The ongoing debate surrounding the proposed recreation center and the development of Eagle Field emerged as focal points at a recent meeting of the Bogota Borough Council. Residents and council members, including Consuelo Carpenter, Jo-Ellen Granquist, Patrick H. McHale, John Mitchell, Mary Ellen Murphy, Robert Robbins, and Mayor Christopher M. Kelemen, expressed their concerns and visions for the future of these projects.
Susan Harper, a resident, emphasized the delays and indecision surrounding the recreation center project, urging the council to move forward with the original environmentally favorable plan endorsed by Green Acres. Echoing Harper’s concerns, George Nunez referenced a flyer by former councilman Mike Connors advocating for tree removal, while council members voiced their frustration over the project’s delays, with one stating, “I’m just tired of talking about [it] myself, and I think we all want the rec center.”
The development of Eagle Field brought a wave of excitement and anticipation for a “rebirth” of the old fields. The council learned that a full-size track and field could fit on the school district’s property, eliminating the need for an adjacent gravel lot. The addition of 30 to 40 trees was also discussed, addressing environmental considerations. Special guests presented updated plans for Eagle Field, addressing the council’s questions and concerns. The facility is designed to include regulation size fields, a walking trail, and an additional building housing a concession stand among other amenities, described as a “first-class facility” with a “sharp looking track.”
However, concerns were raised about potential increases in insurance rates due to the installation of synthetic turf and the impact of lighting on nearby residences. Susan Harper emphasized the need for consideration of the lighting, stating, “we live there, this is like where our bedrooms face.” George Nunez commended the administration and the architectural team for their work and vision, encouraging support for the project despite the concerns. He suggested that the issues raised were “figure-outable” and that compromises could be reached.
The council also deliberated on the next steps, including seeking authorizations to apply to the DEP for necessary permits and negotiating an interlocal agreement with the Board of Education. The resolution was voted on, with members including President Consuelo Carpenter, Councilwoman Jo-Ellen Granquist, Councilwoman Mary Ellen Murphy, and Councilman Robert Robbins voting in favor.
Members debated the merits and feasibility of the plans for the recreation center, grappling with the financial implications of the project. The council debated whether to go out to bid with the original or a revised plan, considering potential cost increases and community needs. Solutions such as sending out two bids simultaneously and holding a work session with professionals were proposed, with members like Consuelo Carpenter, Jo-Ellen Granquist, and Patrick H. McHale actively participating in the discussions.
Citizens’ remarks formed a significant portion of the meeting, with various community members voicing their concerns and opinions on local developments and initiatives. George Nunez criticized the mayor’s role in decision-making, and Mrs. Harper emphasized the importance of preserving the natural aspects of the park. Mayor Christopher M. Kelemen and the council members listened to the concerns raised, ensuring that all voices were heard.
Further discussions included community engagement, property code enforcement, and the commercialization of the Fall Festival. Questions were raised about budget allocations, particularly a $7,500 expense for bouncy houses at the Fall Festival. A council member addressed this concern, explaining the allocation of funds for other initiatives like the Youth Academy.
William Hordern, chief of the fire department, responded to complaints about the loudness of fire horns, emphasizing their necessity for public safety. The council also acknowledged and offered condolences for community members affected by a tragic bus accident in Farmingdale, New York, and the passing of a local resident, Maisie, known for her contributions to the borough.
The council is in the process of applying for the season 3G grant and is exploring advertising and salary negotiations to address the understaffing in the Department of Public Works (DPW). The recruitment of poll workers for upcoming elections was also emphasized, noting the benefits and accommodations available to those who serve.