Editor's Notebook: Oct. 10 Borough Council Meeting
By Rebecca K. Abma
Midland Park Borough Hall
The Midland Park Memorial Library was designated as an official “warming center, “ protocol for the Citizen’s Safety Advisory Committee was debated and another member of the Board of Recreation resigned at the Oct. 10 meeting of the Midland Park Mayor and Council.
During Council President Nancy Peet’s report on the Citizen’s Safety Advisory Committee meeting, the council expressed confusion over the proper protocol for addressing the committee’s safety recommendations, launching into a more than 20-minute debate (Editor's Note: See minutes 11:30 to 35:25 in the video below for direct quotes. The author of this piece is also a member of CSAC).
In its first two meetings, CSAC identified several safety issues, including a lack of crosswalks, excessive speeding on residential streets, confusing traffic patterns on Godwin Avenue, congestion on Dairy Street, potentially dangerous tree limbs and poor lighting in certain areas.
As Peet gave her report, Mayor Patrick "Bud" O'Hagan and Borough Administrator Adeline Hanna questioned the group’s authority, and who is responsible for investigating and implementing the organization’s recommendations.
“I didn’t realize an ad hoc committee has the authority to give department heads work to do,” Hanna said.
The council debated the protocol for relaying information to the proper department: Should the borough manager review the minutes and delegate it or should the council review and discuss the issues before making a decision.
Councilman Nick Papapietro suggested the items be sent to the chair of the Municipal Safety Committee for review, however, Hanna, as chair of that committee, did not agree.
Councilman Jack Considine suggested that the council get a written copy of the recommendations, then discuss it in closed session. He also questioned Peet’s participation in the committee. “When the council president is part of that advisory committee it takes on a different flavor,” Considine said.
“I took it over because Dave Grubb had recommended it at the safety meeting we had on ethics, and I loved the idea," Peet replied. “He was so happy that we started this, he said we are one of the first communities that have spearheaded this and taken it to the level of citizen advisory committee. This committee is a vehicle for having these issues brought to the council."
(Note: Peet and Considine are running for re-election this November on the same ticket.)
“Some of this will be an easy fix, other things are going to require decisions and money spent,” Councilman Bernie Holst said.
“Take the minutes, submit it to Addie. Addie will make X number of copies, and submit it to the department heads,” the mayor said. “We have the DPW, fire chief, police chief, the library director, then they come back and say, well, we need to correct this, it will cost so many dollars, then it comes back to us to decide whether it is in budget, but is had got to be handled by the department heads.”
The borough administrator countered with “the department heads usually get their direction from council and an administrator. There may be some projects that take time, from department head that a citizen’s committee is telling them to do. I think it needs to go to council first and the council decides what should be done and what shouldn’t be done.”
Meanwhile, the council seemed in agreement that items should go to department heads first and if money was required, it should go back to the council for approval. No formal action was taken.
Another Rec Board Resignation
Board of Rec Trustees Thomas Degenaars resignation was announced. The reason stated was time commitments. This is the third resignation from the Rec Board in recent months. Degenaars was appointed to fill Eric Goodell’s term at the July 25 Council meeting.
Goodell and trustee Steve Dembrowski both stepped down from the Rec Board over the summer, citing “personnel issues.” A replacement for Degenaars was not named, however, in July the council created an alternate seat to which Ron Scambati was appointed.
Eagle Scout Project
Eagle Scout Candidate Matthew Topp provided new forest green and white planters to the borough as his Boy Scout Eagle Project. The project required more than 100 hours of work and will replace the planters on the railing on Godwin Avenue in front of Borough Hall.
In preparation of the upcoming storm season, the borough officially designated the library as a warming center in the event of another wide spread power outage, like Superstorm Sandy caused last fall.
The DePhillips Center is also a designated warming station. Rec Coordinator Kathy LaMonte requested OEM Coordinator Joe Mulligan give the CERT team a tour of the DePhillips Center, so they are familiar with the ins-and-outs of the building if it is needed again this season.
The borough also applied for a $148,500 Bergen County Community Development Grant for building generators. Typically, generators are not covered by Community Development grants, however, the county has made an exception for this year only.
Rec Sports Camp Offered
The Rec Department is offering mini sports ½ day camps during teachers convention. The cost is $69 for all three days. More details will be made available soon
Oct. 22 Yoga Night at the Library
Oct. 22: Halloween Parade
Oct. 30: Senior Bingo Night at the DePhillips Center
Dec. 6: Tree lighting ceremony
Oct. 10 Council Meeting