Editor's Notebook: Feb. 28 Council Meeting
The 2013 Budget and two ordinances were introduced, reports and updates were given and a discussion about the Memorial Day Parade took place at the Feb. 28 meeting of the Midland Park Mayor and Council.
The budget was introduced "by title only" with a public hearing set for March 28. The $10,014,205 budget reflects a decrease of $31,101, however the amount to be raised by taxation increased by $191,027. The municipal portion of tax bill for the average homeowner will increase by $78 to $2,395.
Financial Ordinances Introduced
Two ordinances were introduced at the meeting. The first allocated $316,255 for various municipal improvements, acquisitions and projects to be paid for from the capital improvements fund. Projects include the 2013 road resurfacing program, generator connection for traffic lights, computers and radar for the police department, fire equipment, ambulance corps pagers, repairs to the library front steps and railing, tennis court maintenance and extending or raising the fence at Veteran Field.
The second ordinance authorized an additional $97,500 to be put into the reserve fund for the future purchase of municipal vehicles, including a fire truck, chief's car, ladder truck and a public works truck. A public hearing on both ordinances will be held March 28.
The council discussed a suggestion from the Ridgewood Water Company to all towns it services to revise local ordinance to ensure uniformity. Ridgewood's ordinance, which has been in effect for 20 years and last updated in 2010, asserts that it applies to all towns in its service area, and imposes a penalty of having water delivery turned off for violating restrictions.
The council expressed concern that it would be a Ridgewood official making a determination to shut off the water for Midland Park residents, and it agreed to discuss it further with Ridgewood. In addition, the rules pertaining to Odd-Even watering have changed from days of the month to days of the week, with some homes on a Monday-Wednesday-Friday watering schedule and the others on a Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday.
Councilman Pruiksma reported the Rec Department is getting ready for summer camp registration, which opens to Midland Park residents on March 31 and Waldwick residents on May 1. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis and forms are available on the Rec Page of the Borough Website. He added most of last years councilors are returning. Additionally, a town-wide garage sale is being planned for April 20.
In addition, the council discussed correspondence from the Baseball Association, requesting a change to the Memorial Day parade to allow ball games to be played according to its normal schedule. The borough has traditionally kicked off Memorial Day weekend with a parade and ceremony honoring veterans on Saturday.
According to Mayor O'Hagan, a rule was put in place several years ago to not allow the fields to be used until 1pm on the day of the parade, to ensure maximum participation in the parade. The Rec Department suggested a compromise to change game times to begin after the 9am ceremony, and to ensure players who arrive early and attend the ceremony display the appropriate respect for the service.
Council President Nancy Peet suggested the discussion go before the Board of Recreation, as that would be the proper protocol.
DPW & Police Reports
Councilman Holst reported the DPW is preparing to start drainage work on Parker Place and has been taking care of routine maintenance around town, including repairing potholes on local and county roads as needed.
Councilman Papapietro reported that rookie Police Officer Mark Berninger, Jr., has completed his shadow training to acclimate him as an officer. He is now on solo patrol.
Board of Ed
Council President Peet reported on the Board of Education meeting. The school board is exploring send-receive opportunities on a fact-finding level. The district has a meeting scheduled with Ridgewood to gather information and has reached out to a few other districts as well.
The total student population at Highland and Godwin elementary schools combined is 591, including SHIP students. Enrollment at Midland Park Junior-Senior High School is slightly less, with a total of 529 students.
During the public portion of the meeting, a resident brought up concerns over traffic safety at the intersection of Paterson Avenue and Goffle Road. During rush hour, traffic is so heavy that it can take 10 minutes or more to safely cross the street. The council agreed to ask the police department to conduct a traffic study and coordinate with Bergen County police, since Goffle Road is a county road.
Eastern Christian Elementary Celebrates 100 Years
The council passed a resolution commemorating the 100th Anniversary of Eastern Christian Elementary School and declaring Sunday, April 21, 2013 is Eastern Christian Elementary School Day in Midland Park. The school was founded in 1913 as the Midland Park Christian School and became Eastern Christian Elementary School in 1988. More than 10,000 students have attended the school over the past century.
The resolution, which was passed unanimously, remains unchanged from when it was discussed at the Feb. 14 meeting. A resident expressed concerns at both February meetings regarding a section of the resolution that reads, "it is evident that Christian education is needed more today than ever before to teach the principles of Christianity and to encourage the use of these principles in day-to-day living and to make our youth good citizens."