Teaneck Council: Lead, environment, development, downtown, gobbledygook, OPRA, dinos, and more

Lead in our water:  Council members and residents were outraged that Suez Water Company says there are 600 homes in Teaneck with lead service lines or connectors, but Suez will not disclose to the township which homes are involved. Councilman Kaplan insisted Suez must tell our health officer the locations. Council asked its attorney to demand disclosure with the possibility of a lawsuit. Resident Howard Rose said, ”Thank you for trying to force them to do the right thing.” Residents can go online here to find out if their home is affected.

Free carts with wheels for recycling: They are available to both senior citizens and those with disabilities. They can be picked up at the Department of Public Works at 1600 River Road. There are some 7,000 senior citizens in Teaneck.   

Council minutes: With an avalanche of OPRA request (some 240 from just one individual) the clerk had not prepared minutes of council meetings for the last six months. They are now up to date. For example, here are minutes for the January 29 meeting. Council passed an ordinance mandating that minutes must be available within 30 days or the next meeting – whichever is longer. 

Gas Power plant: Resident Paula Rogovin reported that 42 towns now oppose the gas-powered  plant planned for the Meadowlands near Teaneck. She said that that a broad array of environmentalists are urging the governor to impose a moratorium on all new fossil fuel infrastructure projects. She also urged the council to develop its own “Renewable Energy Teaneck” plan. 

Dino Park: Resident Dr. Hoffman expressed his satisfaction over the county’s recent decision to end its plan to place an animatronic dinosaur exhibit in part of Overpeck Park. Nonetheless, he said, “We have to remain vigilant  about what happens regarding placing parking lots there and keeping the area in its native condition.” The space, once a garbage dump, needs proper remediation. (See photo above.) 

Development: Resident Steve Savitz asked for more publicity about the upcoming Development Planning Forum on February 19th. He wants to learn more about potential problems with traffic congestion, parking, bussing and other needed utilities. This forum in the Public Library at 6:00 PM is an opportunity for residents to express their wishes and to question the presenters. It’s not a council meeting so council members will not answer questions, but the council is amenable to adding a separate meeting in chambers for residents concerned about the future.

State Legislation: The council was urged by the NJ League of Municipalities to write a letter to LD37 legislators opposing a state bill which takes away some local control and vests it in the county, state, or utilities. The example cited was dealing with invasive species. A formal resolution will be presented at the next meeting. 

Budget: Teaneck in the past has been remiss in adopting its budget by the deadline. State law says it must be adopted by April 30. Councilman Schwartz is comfortable flaunting flouting the law as long as necessary in order to create a budget with 0 increase. It may be more difficult to do so this year. The first Council budget meeting open to the public is rescheduled for February 21 in council chambers at 7:00 PM.

Kicking the can: Resident Alan Sohn was concerned that the council is kicking down the road critical information such as the expected quarterly financial reports, six year capital plan, and Annual Township Manager’s Report. Howard Rose, agreed saying, “Sooner is better. Longer things are delayed, less people are informed.”

Votee Park: Resident Chuck Powers expressed concern over demolishing the hockey rink and placing there a pavilion which is much more expensive than anticipated. He added, “Teaneck is currently barred from getting new state Green Acres funding and may lose eligibility for county open space funds.”

OPRA exuberance: Alan Sohn addressed concern over the individual who made 240 OPRA requests. He said our attorneys were costing the town too much money. “We need to find a solution that solves the problem of excessive OPRA requests.”

Downtown: There are now 20 or more empty storefronts in Teaneck so the council wants to talk with the business community to see what can be done. On Cedar Lane, the main business street, the store buildings are owned primarily by four individuals who appear uninterested in lowering their rental rates. With more shopping on-line and companies like Uber and Grub Hub, downtown is is facing tougher times. Finding ways to make it a destination stop for more affluent individuals, as the mayor indicated, is a desirable but difficult goal.

Social Media: Yassine Elkaryan, Chair of the Youth Advisory Board, urged council members to make more use of social media. Councilman Pruitt pointed out later than when they do so they represent their own opinion solely and do not speak for the council.

Open Space: There is an ongoing debate about funds used solely for open space vs. recreation. The mayor indicated that in earlier years he felt more money was spent for open space, but he appeared to want more for recreation in the future.

Gobbledygook: Councilwoman Rice urged that the agenda announcement of ordinances (which tend to be in governmental gobbledygook) should include a short abstract so that people understand what is involved.

Garbage Truck noise: Because garbage companies start as early as 3:30 in the morning, the council wants to amend the noise ordinance to start at 5:30 AM. (Do garbage trucks wake you up in the morning?) 

The Agenda Outline, Agenda Packet, and video of the full Open Meeting are here.

Comments (5)

  1. Chava Casper

    Councilman Schwartz is comfortable flaunting the law …
    No! flouting, not flaunting.

    Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Bill Orr (Post author)

      You are correct. Thank you for flaunting your excellent vocabulary. I made the correction.

      Reply
    2. Jeff Ostroth

      I’m all in favor of using the correct participle “flouting.”

      Councilman Schwarz is comfortable flouting the law as long as necessary in order to… here, the correct verb is “cook” followed by “the books,” in pursuit of his “zero percent” fetish, which generally means kicking the can down the road.

      Reply
      1. Tom Abbott

        Councilman Schwarz suggests that doing the budget late is somehow tied to his obsessive pursuit of “zero percent”.

        Budgets are late because the budget process that used to start in December is now starting in late February.

        Reply
  2. Tom Abbott

    It is true that the Mayor said that in the past the Municipal Open Space Trust (MOST) fund had been used mostly for open space, but there is no factual basis for this. Almost all of the MOST funds since it’s inception in 2004 have been spent on recreation.

    Reply

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