On Jan. 2, Garwood Council held its first meeting of 2013, the annual council reorganization meeting.
First on the agenda was the swearing in of two newly elected councilmembers, Democrats Bill Nierstedt and Ann Palmer.
Nierstedt and Palmer won seats in a race against Republican incumbent Tim Hak and newcomer Mike Martin, changing the voting makeup of council from a 50/50 split of Democrats and Republicans to a Democratic majority. (Read more on the election here.) Also sworn in were new Fire Chief Michael Tharaldsen and Assistant Fire Chief Leonard Spina.
Council then had to nominate and elect a council president and unanimously elected Councilwoman Sara Todisco (D), who has been a councilmember since May 2011 and served as finance chair for 2012.
Mayor Patricia Quattrocchi then read several appointments to borough boards and positions for 2013. Most appointments remained the same from 2012. (See a full list of appointments in the PDF of the meeting agenda in our gallery, right.) Council chose Robert Renaud to serve as borough attorney, replacing Joseph Triarsi. Renaud previously worked as the borough attorney before being replaced by Triarsi in 2011.
Mayor Quattrocchi also named councilmembers to council committees, noting that these appointments were works in progress and could change in the future.
Police, Public Health and Safety – Councilmembers Petruzzelli (chair), Todisco, DeFilippo
Board of Health Liaison – Councilwoman Sara Todisco
Streets, Roads and Ecology – Councilmembers Nierstedt (chair), Mathieu, Petruzzelli
Fire – Councilmembers Mathieu (chair), Nierstedt, Palmer
Finance – Councilmembers Todisco (chair), DeFilippo, Petruzzelli
Buildings and Grounds – Councilmembers DeFilippo (chair), Nierstedt, Palmer
Laws and Licenses – Councilmembers Palmer (chair), DeFilippo, Todisco
Recreation – Councilman Louis Petruzzelli (chair), two remaining seats vacant for now, says Mayor
Aging – Councilwoman Palmer
Library – Councilman Mathieu
School Board – Councilwoman Palmer
Transportation Advisory Representative – Councilman Mathieu
Celebrations – Councilwoman Todisco
Union County Air Traffic Noise Advisory Representative – Councilman Mathieu
Athletic Field Complex Representative – Councilman Petruzzelli
With the business side of things through, the mayor and councilmembers took turns speaking to the crowd.
Palmer and Nierstedt thanked their supporters and their families. Nierstedt said he has always been passionate about the environment and hopes to take measures to improve zoning, street scapes, reduce garbage creation, increase shade trees and increase recycling.
"And I hope that those who did not vote for me will become begruding supporters over time!" said Nierstedt.
Council President Sara Todisco said for 2013 she would like to see a bulk pick-up program and work on the issue of certificates of noncomformity for residents who live in areas of the borough where zoning was changed.
Councilman Jim Mathieu said he would like council to investigate the privatization of trash collection, using the county dispatch center, and possibly combining the borough's municipal court with another town. Mathieu also said he'd like to see the a borough-wide property reassessment to reapportion taxes more fairly. Mathieu also noted the borough's tax increase for 2012 and increase in debt due to the approval of the Athletic Field Complex, and said he was concerned about maintaining the current cost structure.
The mayor spoke last, beginning her address by thanking three residents for their efforts during Hurricane Sandy: Union County Medical Reserve Corps members Eileen Kufta and Rachel Herz, and
The mayor spoke about New Year's resolutions and how plans for the borough could also be called resolutions, then sharing her own – to be more patient with her children and her husband, and to continue her commitment to no longer smoke cigarettes.
"Going forward this year our resolutions will be for the enhanced communications projects that we started 2012," said Quattrocchi, listing new phone systems, a new website, a quarterly newsletter, and an electronic message board for the north side of town (like the one at borough hall) among the projects.
The mayor went on to discuss the bipartisan redevelopment team she created this year, noting that the borough had taken several steps into a transit village designation from NJ Transit.
The mayor said she would continue to investigate opportunities for shared services, noting some that had been instituted - a cleaning agreement with the Board of Education and the Union County energy purchasing consortium.
The mayor pointed to the borough's increased work in the area of emergency management and said she would be seeking volunteers to begin a Community Emergency Response team.
Quattrocchi also said she was proud that council had decided to move the controversial Athletic Field Complex project forward.
The mayor closed the meeting saying, "This year we are ready to move forward into the 21st century and leave the past behind, making Garwood the best place to live, work and raise a family in Union County and in New Jersey."