On Monday night we had a meeting. Here are the highlights.
We spent most of the meeting discussing the plans for a new police, fire, and rescue squad building that the Township intends to build on Pompton Avenue. This was a fantastic presentation that I encourage everyone to watch here. This was the first time the Council saw these plans for the new building and it was our first public discussion.
What was shared was an extensive discussion on the current state of the police building, firehouse #2, and the rescue squad (which the Township does not own). There is no debate that all three buildings have significant problems and extensive challenges, and I think for the public it is important to understand just how significant the issues are. There are big gaps between the physical spaces we have today and the need for each department and program.
The Council and the public was then presented with an extensive presentation on the proposed new design of a building for all three programs, and we went through room by room. We talked about what rooms are required and what spaces are best practices. We got a clear picture of how the different departments would be separated and what would be shared. The impact to the surrounding neighborhood was also discussed extensively.
No costs numbers were shared in public on this proposed building, but the Council did have that discussion in Executive Session later in the meeting. Obviously, to fix all three of these building issues will take significant investment. We are taking some time to digest what was presented to us to figure out how best to proceed.
This is the beginning of a very long process were we really need the public's engagement. While I objected to having this conversation on December 18th, due to it's proximity to the holidays, the Township is planning an extensive public information campaign to socialize the building plans and costs to get resident input before a decision is made. This was the first of many public conversations on the building. Please do not hesitate to share feedback with the Council by contacting us here: https://www.veronanj.org/councilcontactform.
We did conduct other business at this meeting. We hosting a hearing on our proposed submission to the 2024 Essex Community Development Block Grant program. We are submitting $100K for ADA accessible doors for the Community Center and Town Hall, and for the construction of ADA accessible walkways at the Community Pool. This submission was the direct result of a report produced by the Multicultural Inclusion as Accessibility Advisory Committee. In addition, we are submitting $2.4 million for improvements to Everett Field - including the construction of ADA walkways, bathrooms, bleachers, and parking spaces. A second hearing for the CDBG submission will be in January.
We voted on two ordinances on second reading - including rules for privately owned salt storage and the final vote to increase the tax levy on the open space trust fund from $0.02 to $0.03 per $100 of coverage.
Under resolutions, we voted on an agreement that the Township has no ownership of Cook Lane. We also authorized an agreement with DNS Media to manage VTV and accept a firefighters grant of $67K.
We then went into a very lengthy closed session to discuss several matters.
As always, I look forward to your feedback on any issue before the Council. You can contact us here: https://www.veronanj.org/councilcontactform.