Last night we had our last Council meeting before the reorganization meeting on Saturday, July 1st at 12 noon. Here are the highlights.
I want to first address the Council re-organization. Once again residents came to the meeting to ask questions on the mayor selection process. Many referenced an article that was published last week (https://newjerseyglobe.com/campaigns/to-pick-new-mayor-verona-council-divided-along-gender-lines/). I want to thank residents who expressed their concerns on how they perceive the mayor selection process playing out. Both public comment periods, both at 45 minutes and 2 hrs 15 min into the meeting, are worth a watch. As I stated in the meeting, the public's expectation is that the governing body will collaborate when making this decision. There is still time for Council members to come together and reach a solution that works for all members of the Council. No member of the Council should be left out of the conversation. I encourage members of the public, if they are so inclined, to reach out to members of the Council.
Another big discussion last night was a goodbye to Steve Neale, our Director of Business Administration and Economic Development, who is leaving Verona to be a Business Administrator in Waldwick, NJ. On a personal level, I really enjoyed working with Steve over the last four years, and this is a big loss for Verona. Last night we passed an ordinance to create a Deputy Manager position in our code. We removed the proposed salary component from the ordinance and will revisit that later this summer. Our Township Manager will put out a job posting soon for a Deputy Manager position, which will serve to replace Steve's position. Steve's shoes will be very hard to fill - and I wish him the best of luck in his new role!
We also passed ordinances last night to allocate $60K for shade tree replacement and sidewalk/catch basin repairs, and $15K to purchase necessary equipment for the Construction Code department, to ensure compliance with new regulations.
Under resolutions, we appointed a judge for our new municipal court with North Caldwell and Essex Fells - Mr. Joseph Angelo. We set our 2023-2024 Council meeting dates, and accepted our VMAC grant for $16,921.26 (with a $4,230.32 cash match).
The Council also approved submitting Linden Avenue for a DOT Grant. I voted against the measure. About a year ago, I asked the Administration for an analysis of the condition of our streets so that the Council could understand holistically the condition of our roads before we approved any more of these grant submissions. I recognize that our Administration has been backlogged with several engineering projects, and as a result that analysis has not been completed. While I am generally supportive of applying for these transportation grants to keep up with road reconstruction and repaving, I do believe strongly we need the strategic analysis done so that the Council has appropriate oversight on these investments. This is why I did not vote for the resolution.
In new business, we had substantial conversations of the costs to repave Balston/Windemere/Whitney ($1.4 million, offset with a $300K grant) and Douglas Place ($650K, offset with a grant for $423K). We also discussed new costs associated with planning expenses and engineering oversight for the PFAS well remediation, which are estimated at another $500K. The analysis of the wastewater plant was discussed at $26K. We had an additional conversation on the start time of future reorganization meetings. Finally we discussed some feedback on the new parking rule that is being proposed to prevent parking within 4 ft of a driveway. The Council encourages residents to provide feedback on this new rule by emailing the Council here: https://www.veronanj.org/council. All of the ordinances discussed will likely be introduced at our first meeting in July.
If you have feedback for the Council on any matter, please send it to us at https://www.veronanj.org/council.