Did Republicans Plan to Squash Athletic Field Complex? Garwood Resident Questions Mayor
Mayor says she does not want council meetings to become political.
With no major ordinances or discussions on the agenda, Tuesday night's Garwood council meeting had only a brief moment of tension when resident Richard King questioned Mayor Patricia Quattrocchi as to whether members of the Republican Party, if elected to office in 2011, had planned to stop the construction of Garwood's Athletic Field Complex.
King pointed to an exchange at a meeting a month ago when Councilman Jim Mathieu (R) stated publicly that he was told his party had planned to kill the project if they were elected to office. (Mathieu, Councilman Victor DeFilippo and Mayor Quattrocchi won in November 2010, changing the party lines on council to an even 50/50 split with the Mayor holding the tie-breaking vote.)
"During the previous meeting there was a heated exchange between councilmembers and Councilman Mathieu said that during the running there were plans to squash it," said King. "I want to know, is that true?"
The mayor responded saying it was not true that the complex wasn't being constructed as the borough is now well into the bidding stages. She would not, however, comment on whether Republicans did have plans to stop the project previously.
"A lot of people in this town invested a tremendous amount of time and themselves and care," said Quattrocchi. "Since there was adequate monies to handle the construction and planning and whatnot..."
King pushed, asking the mayor to answer whether or not it was discussed by Republicans during the election or if Mathieu had lied.
The mayor responded by saying she did not feel comfortable discussing what was discussed during private party meetings.
King pushed again for an answer, saying that as a taxpayer he deserved to know if that was the plan.
The mayor and Councilman DeFilippo said that they felt the answer wasn't relevant now as the project is going forward.
"Certain things are for public consumption and certain things aren’t necessarily," added Quattrocchi. "I don’t want to make these meetings political."
Other notes from council's May 22, 2012 meeting:
Ongoing litigation over snow removal with the Pointe: Borough attorney Joseph Triarsi stated that Pointe litigation has been concluded with submission of written summations as of last Friday. Triarsi said that the judge will issue a written opinion probably in the next two or three weeks. For the backstory on this issue, read our story from council's last meeting.
Ordinance introduced: Council introduced bond ordinance 12-07 "to authorize the 2012 Road and Drainage Improvement Project to appropriate the sum of $340,000 to pay the cost to appropriate a state grant, to authorize the issuance of bonds to finance such appropriation and to provide for the issuance of bond anticipation notes in anticipation of the issuance of such bonds." Garwood is reimbursed for these bonds through state grants. The ordinance will have its public hearing at the next council meeting. (Councilman Mathieu abstained from voting to introduce the ordinance because his employer informed him he needed to abstain from voting on bonding issues.)
DOT work on Pine, East, Maple, Willow: Borough Engineer Donald Guarriello reported that DOT road work will start on Pine Avenue and East Street the first week of June and drainage work on Maple and Willow avenues will follow, likely beginning in July.
Water main work on Hemlock Avenue: Guarriello also reported that the water company will be doing cleaning and lining of the water main on Hemlock Street. The water company had previously also included Hickory Avenue but that has since been removed from the project. Guarriello added that he expressed he was not pleased that they removed Hickory because if they do not do that work now they will not be able to in the immediate future because there will be road work on Hickory next year. Guarriello said the water company indicated they would go back and see if they can fit work on Hickory in their budget this year.
Rat problem in brook: Resident Al Delconte again asked council what they are doing to rectify issues with rats in the brook behind Locust Street. Councilwoman Sara Todisco answered that she spoke with the Department of Health and that there are plans to first clear the overgrowth in the brook and then treat for rats. Todisco said the entire brook will be treated.
Police, DPW Contracts: Several councilmembers agreed to have an executive session to discuss where Garwood stands on PBA negotiations in deciding this year's police contracts. Councilwoman Todisco also asked for an update on Department on Public Works contracts. Mayor Quattrocchi said she gave the DPW contracts to the Streets and Roads Committee to handle and she does not anticipate a major issue there.
Garwood Green Team?: Councilman Louis Petruzzelli asked if Garwood still has a Green Team. Mayor Quattrocchi answered that former councilman Anthony Sytko ran such a team but she was unsure as to who was on it and it dissolved when he left office in Dec. 2010. Petruzzelli stated that there are several grants available to towns that have an active green team and the mayor asked that councilmembers reach out to Sytko to discuss it.
Athletic Field Complex: Councilman Petruzzelli explained that after the prebid meeting there were addendums added to the project to answer technical and environmental questions bidders had and that because of those addendums the new date bids must be received by is June 7.
Garwood police message system: Councilman Tim Hak explained that Garwood has signed up for the Nixle message platform for public safety priority messages from the police department. The department will be able to send out messages regarding disasters, missing children, road construction, etc. Information on how to sign up for the free system will be available on garwood.org.
Councilmembers want police news: Councilman Mathieu and Councilwoman Sara Todisco said they would like to be better informed about Garwood police news after reading about a rash of thefts from vehicles in the borough in the media before hearing it from the department. Mathieu asked how the department decides what items to notify council about as he had received notice of tall grass violations and other minor issues but had not heard about the thefts. Chief Bruce Underhill stated that the department keeps a daily blotter and has a separate blotter and press releases they send to media. Councilman Tim Hak who serves as police liaison said he is very well-informed on issues from the department. After discussion, councilmembers asked to be included when the blotter/releases are distributed and asked Hak to inform them about important issues.
Garwood attendance at Union County Freeholder meetings: After suggesting that Garwood councilmembers start to make a presence at County Freeholder meetings, Todisco went ahead and created a rotating schedule for councilmembers to follow. Todisco said that she herself will attend the county budget meeting on May 31 and report back.
Recyclebank: Councilwoman Todisco asked if the council had come to a decision on whether or not to join up with Recyclebank, a program that offers residents rewards and discounts for recycling. Mayor Quattrocchi said she is deferring to the Streets and Roads Committee to come to a decision, but felt that she sees no harm in participating.
Underpass plaque?: Mayor Quattrocchi said she is working on getting a plaque to commemorate the work done by four mayors to bring about the Garwood underpass. Resident Anne Kettles had previously asked council to consider the plaque to honor her father, former mayor George Casabona. Quattrocchi explained that she had to discuss the plaque with NJ Transit because they own the underpass and do not regularly have such plaques on them. Quattrocchi said she feels the plaque would be better located nearer to Borough Hall.
Library parking/drop-off zone issues resolved: Councilman Hak explained that there was a parking issue at the library drop-off zones where library signs were ambiguous and patrons were hesitant to park there after school hours. Police Chief Bruce Underhill had the DPW make up 12-by-6 inch signs to place under the drop off zone signs. They were installed last month and should solve problem without creating view obstruction or safety issues in area, said Hak.
Solar-powered school crosswalk: The second solar-powered school crosswalk beacon has been installed on Walnut Street.
DPW scrap metal and white goods: Beginning last week, all white goods and other scrap metals collected by the DPW will be disposed of through Dublin Scrap Metal of Newark. These materials will now generate a revenue of $175 per ton and the borough typically generates more than 20 tons annually.
Thursday, May 24 - Councilwoman Todisco announced that the fourth-grade play "The Little Mermaid" will take place at Lincoln School at 7 p.m.
May 28 - Councilwoman Todisco encourages everyone to attend the annual Memorial Day Ceremony at the Knights of Columbus at noon and also to come out to Cranford's Memorial Day parade (beginning at 9 a.m.), which Garwood participates in. Click here for our story on last year's event.
Registration for the Garwood Public Library's summer reading program begins on June 13. The summer programs will also include weekly crafts for kids and weekly movie nights. The library is also scheduling a visit from Pearl Observatory, where participants will be able to look at the night sky with two telescopes.
June 28 - The annual Garwood Senior Citizens Picnic will be held at the Little League Field. Transportation will be provided for any seniors who need it.