In a recent convergence of the Bergen County Board of Commissioners, a myriad of pressing issues and community proposals were brought to the fore, with the emergency condition at the Bergen County Justice Center emerging as the focal point of discussions.
The meeting spotlighted the immediate need for repairs at the Bergen County Justice Center, where a malfunctioning air conditioning unit resulted in extensive damages across several floors and courtrooms. County Administrator Dutch delineated the intricacies of the situation, emphasizing the specialized nature of the required repairs and the urgency to reopen the courtrooms, especially in light of recent judicial appointments. The estimated cost of the repairs is pegged at a substantial $1,800,000, with a claim already filed with CHUB insurance. The board unanimously approved resolution 1068-23, authorizing the emergency purchases for the repairs.
The meeting was also a platform for community voices and proposals. Ryan Roy, an autism advocate and award recipient from Bergen County’s Division of Disability Services, championed the cause of diversity, equity, and inclusion. He proposed the innovative idea of appointing a child or adult with disabilities as a chief of the day in his town and advocated for representation during Mental Health Awareness Month. The board, appreciative of Roy’s endeavors, encouraged him to liaise with a former chief of police present at the meeting regarding his proposal.
In a similar vein, community member Mr. Farish expressed concerns about the proposed Legal Resource Center at the Bergen County Justice Center. Envisioning it as a collaborative effort with the Bergen County Community College, Mr. Farish emphasized the necessity for citizen representation, stating, “the citizens of Bergen County don’t have an equivalent representation other than their elected officials in the county and state and municipal level governments.” The board acknowledged the novelty of the concept, assuring that it was under consideration.
The meeting also saw Patrick Gromit advocate for enhanced bike infrastructure to complement public transit and address the last-mile problem. Citing the example of the Westmont train station, Gromit estimated that a robust biking infrastructure could significantly expand rail station access across the county.
Amidst discussions on infrastructure and community initiatives, the commissioners also reflected on past events and future prospects. The unity and resilience of Americans were celebrated, with specific mention of the Hispanic Heritage Celebration at Vernon Community College. The commissioners expressed gratitude to first responders and emphasized the importance of community unity and educating the younger generation about historical events, such as 9/11.
Plans for the future of Newbridge Medical Center were also discussed, with optimism about its potential to serve the county and address addiction issues. The decision to retain the facility was lauded, and there was a collective call for progress on the light rail project. The commissioners reiterated the county’s commitment to mental health and encouraged residents to avail themselves of the range of services offered by Bergen County.
The meeting concluded with expressions of gratitude to the township of Saddlebrook for hosting and acknowledgments of various local events and remembrances.