Editor's Notebook: March 14 Council Meeting
A discussion over the Baseball Association's request to hold a tournament on Memorial Day, a proposal to dedicate a street to Johnny Vander Meer and a suggestion to create a Community Safety Committee were the hot topics of the March 14 council meeting.
Memorial Day Debate
At the Feb. 28 meeting,the council discussed a request from the Midland Park Baseball Association for approval to host the Bergen County Charity Classic on the Saturday before Memorial Day. Traditionally the Memorial Day parade is held on that day and for years, a town rule does not allow the fields to be used for games before 1pm on that day. The association was asking the borough to either move the parade to Monday or to allow for earlier game times.
The council referred the discussion go before the Rec Board, which discussed it at its March 4 meeting. According to Councilman Scott Pruiksma, the Rec Board requests the council bend the 1pm rule, with the stipulation that there will be no game activity for 30 minutes before the veterans arrive for the service and for 20 minutes after they leave. During that time, all balls, bats, mitts and hats will be on the ground.
"We want to make sure the day is respected and that our veterans are honored for fighting for our freedoms, including the freedom to play baseball," Pruiksma said.
Mayor Bud O'Hagan said that "as mayor and a veteran, I am offended by this," adding he is adamant against it. He also expressed concerns that the tournament would result in an influx of traffic during the parade while streets are closed and issues with parking for the veterans ceremony.
Councilman Jack Considine opined if this is a one-time exception, he would consider it, but if it has the potential to be a permanent change to Memorial Day weekend, it would be "eroding something very basic to the nature of Midland Park to allow this to supplant our Memorial Day observances."
Former Mayor Ester Verheilig asked for special permission to speak, and told the council that the Parade Committee met earlier in the week and the veterans are very upset about this and were intending to speak to the Board of Recreation, not realizing the the process had already started. The council agreed to invite the Veterans to the March 28 meeting to hear their opinions and tabled the discussion.
A portion of the discussion can be viewed on livestream.
Johnny Vander Meer Way
During Liaison Reports, Mayor O'Hagan made the suggestion to honor the 75th Anniversary of Johnny Vander Meer's back-to-back no hitters dedicate Sunset Street as Johnny Vander Meer Way at the April 13 baseball parade. The council agreed to ask the DPW to prepare a street sign. The street will have a double name, with two signs.
Community Safety Committee
Council President Nancy Peet reported that during a recent training session for municipal officials the idea of a Community Safety Committee interested her and she would like to implement it in Midland Park. The potential committee would comprise elected officials, municipal employees and citizen volunteers, whom she noted are the "eyes and ears of the community."
It was mentioned that the borough already has a similar committee, Local Emergency Planning Committee, which is run through the Office of Emergency Management and holds meetings during the day. Peet said she was unaware of the LEPC and rescinded the offer to head up a new committee, however, members of the council that this might be a good opportunity to involve more community members. Peet said she would speak with the OEM coordinator to determine if there were possible overlaps and/or ways a second committee could complement LEPC.
Winery Outlet Licence
Borough Administrator Adeline Hanna brought up a winery outlet license request at Rosario's Trattoria. The license is different than a liquor license in that it can only sell wine from Unionville Vinyards, which is based in Ringoes, NJ. The special winery outlet license is a special state designation geared toward promoting New Jersey wineries. It can only be issued to to restaurants that are BYOB and if the license is non-transferable, meaning once the restaurant closes its door, the license will be voided.
COLA ordinance passed
The council approved ordinance 01-13, to create a cap bank if the cost of living adjustment exceeds 2.5%. At its introduction at the Feb. 14 meeting Hanna explained the ordinance "serves as a safety net that gives officials greater flexibility in creating a budget." The ordinance is a "standard procedure" that the borough has "not needed to use in the past," she said.
Based on the budget introduced at the Feb. 28 meeting, it appears the borough will not need to use this.