December 6th Council Meeting Summary
Updated: Jan 13, 2022
Last night we had a Council Meeting. Here are the highlights.
We had a significant update on our remediation of PFOA in our drinking water. At our next meeting we will be discussing the engineering recommendation on which type of system we should purchase to remove PFAS chemicals from our drinking water. These systems are very large (10 feet x 10 feet), and will require us to reconfigure one of the buildings (for the Linn Drive well) or build a new building (Fairview Ave well). In addition, these systems are now running 40-45 weeks for delivery time from ordering. This means what appeared to be a one year project is now close to a two year project to remediate our water system.
To reiterate what what was already announced, upon learning that we did not meet the new NJ PFAS drinking water standards the Council made the decision to switch our drinking water source and pay to get our water delivered to Passaic Valley, where the amount of PFAS in our drinking water is under the new NJ limits. However, the cost to purchase this water is over $1 million a year, so this extension of the timeline of this project does add significant cost. I look forward to the next meeting where we will discuss this matter further.
Under new business, we had presentation on the mission statement drafted by the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion workgroup. The mission statement developed by the 15 member volunteer workgroup is the following: "Verona's vibrant community proudly welcomes all residents, business owners, employees, and visitors. Together we are working toward being a truly inclusive place where our policies, services, and program meet the needs of all people".
The workgroup also recommended areas of focus in 2022. Some of their recommendations included a planned calendar of events that reflect robust cultural inclusion, accessibility review of our recreation programs for disabled adults and children, and a continued training plan for employees. Finally, the workgroup recommended that the Council create an ongoing advisory committee, tentatively named the Multi-Cultural Inclusion and Accessibility Committee. This advisory committee would work with the community, Council, and Township Administration to organize, coordinate, and research actions in the community and propose solutions to ensure accessibility for all community members. On this committee it is also proposed to that both the BOE and Library have delegates that can participate to ensure coordination across the community.
Several members of the workgroup, which was led by myself, Councilwoman Holland, and Steve Neale, Director of Administration and Economic Development, spoke at the meeting to explain their experience on the workgroup and why it is important to keep moving this work forward. We have recent examples of fantastic events that were driven by community members that ensured that our events were more inclusive. They include the "sensitive Santa" event at Fair in the Square, that allowed neuro-diverse children to experience Santa in a calm and non-stimulating environment, and the Diwali celebration.
Every Council member voiced their support for the mission statement and ongoing advisory committee, and at the first meeting in January we will have a resolution on our agenda to adopt both. This will allow us to continue to move this work forward. On a personal note I want to once again thank the working group - they were a truly fantastic mix of residents with different opinions that treated everyone with respect. This was a hard but important conversation to have. The Council has said repeatedly that this work needed to be driven by the Community, and we appreciate these volunteers for lending their time to do so.
Finally we passed our resolutions, which included some budget transfers and canceling $100K of the special emergency funding due to Ida. That leaves $250K that is eligible for reimbursement from FEMA.
Any comments on our meeting can be sent to the entire Council here: https://www.veronanj.org/council .