September 11th Meeting Summary
Last night we had a Town Council meeting. Here are the highlights.
Two significant organizational announcements were made by our Township Manager, Joe D'Arco. First is that Jim Cunningham, Director of Community Services, will be retiring from Verona after more than 33 years in recreation and 15 years in Verona. Mr. D'Arco said the job has been posted internally and that he is looking to restructure the department. I want to thank Mr. Cunningham for his leadership in crafting and evolving our recreation programs, setting a priority of safety with our pool complex, and overseeing a great department of staff who assist Verona residents with a large variety of needs. I have always appreciated the time he took to explain issues to me and enjoyed getting to know him. His last day with Verona is September 29th.
The second announcement is that Mr. D'Arco has hired Kevin O'Sullivan as our Deputy Township Manager, a newly created position. Mr. O'Sullivan, has been the Borough Administrator of North Caldwell since 2019, is an engineer by background, and is a Verona resident. Mr. O'Sullivan will be starting in early October. At our meeting we also introduced an ordinance setting the salary of this position at $145K. There will be a public hearing and second vote on this at our next meeting on Tuesday, September 26th. Congratulations to Mr. O'Sullivan and I look forward to him joining the Verona team.
Boswell Engineering presented revised plans for the ADA playground at the Community Center. The Township will be applying for supplemental funds from the County Community Development Block Grant Program of $1,020,580 for the playground. We now have plans to add bathrooms back to the site. We had a discussion on the design of the playground and ADA parking next to the site. I encourage residents to review the plans for the playground and send feedback to the Council on its design, which you can find here: Playground. In addition, Boswell discussed also applying for $60K of funds from the CDBG program to make repairs to the roof of the Senior Annex Building. The Council voted to approve the submission to the County for these projects.
We also had a conversation on the costs to remediate the PFAS contamination of our wells. The Linn Drive project is ready to go to bid and will cost $4 million dollars. The Fairview Ave well is close to plan submission with the DEP and will cost $5 million dollars. This is in addition to the $1 million we already bonded for engineering study, design, and construction oversight. The well projects are submitted in the NJ iBank, which allows for low interest loans for these type of projects. Our CFO advised us last night that we may get $2 million of principal forgiveness on this project. She recommended that we submit these projects separately to the iBank and possibly delay the submission of the Fairview well until next fiscal year to maximize principal loan forgiveness opportunities. At our next meeting, we will have bond ordinances introduced to move these projects forward and more information on the iBank process.
The Township Manager also announced that the Council will receive a draft of renovation plans for Everett Field at our next meeting. This will start a public conversation about the field design and whether or not we should move to artificial turf.
Last night we approved a $11K capital ordinance to improve the elevator at the Community Center. We introduced a $50K water and sewer capital ordinance to conduct a water and sewer rate study. There will be a public hearing on that ordinance at our next meeting. Under resolutions, we approved a tax court judgement refund and approved going into executive session. We also approved new VMAC members.
Finally we discussed once again potentially asking the Planning Board to review 320 Bloomfield Avenue and 9-11 Church Street as an "area in need of redevelopment". The developer came to our meeting (at 1 hr and 10 minutes) and made a short presentation. He is asking us to conduct this study as a first step in attaining a PILOT agreement. We agreed to table this issue until we hire a Township Planner, which we are likely to do in October.
Our next meeting will be on Tuesday, September 26th at 7 pm - not our usual Monday. As always, if you have any questions or comments for the Council, please send them to us all by using the following link: https://www.veronanj.org/councilcontactform.