Franklin Lakes Council Addresses Transparency Concerns, Road Improvements, and Honors Local Gold Medalist

In a wide-ranging recent meeting of the Franklin Lakes Borough Council, critical matters such as concerns over transparency, road program appropriations, ongoing projects like the Old Antenna Drainage Improvements, and honoring local gold medalist Jack Wallace took center stage. The meeting, presided over by Mayor Charles J.X. Kahwaty, also included discussions on several community improvements, appointments, and initiatives, capturing the attention of residents and council members alike.

The council opened the meeting by honoring Jack Wallace for his spectacular accomplishments in sled hockey, including winning the gold medal at the 2023 World Power Ice Hockey Championship. Mayor Kahwaty read an extensive proclamation celebrating Wallace’s achievements, setting a triumphant tone for the proceedings.

One of the more contentious issues arose when resident Ari Donio expressed frustration over a lack of transparency in the council’s dealings with developer KEMI, especially concerning the absence of minutes for the July 6th meeting. This sparked a debate among council members. Though the council and the Borough attorney acknowledged Donio’s concerns, they stressed that negotiations were confidential. Dennis Bonagura suggested issuing a public statement to keep the community informed, a suggestion that was accepted, though with an understanding that the details would be limited.

Substantial time was dedicated to internal matters and appointments. Michelle Gonzales was announced as the new Administrative Assistant to the Construction Department, and the appointment of per diem dispatcher Brianne Dowling was approved.

The meeting also saw progress in infrastructure matters. A considerable amount of mud flow was caused by a property owner digging a trench without stabilizing it, leading the council to discuss issuing a notice of violation. Another central point was the road program, with discussions on utilizing additional funds left in the appropriation for repaving small roads. General agreement was reached on prioritizing roads based on criteria such as complaints and disturbances by utility companies.

In a noteworthy administrative move, the council considered the possibility of solar installations on borough buildings and decided to schedule a new study due to changes in incentives. This aligned with various other project updates like the completion of a path around a playground, discussions regarding gas main replacement, and improving drainage in several areas.

Finally, an intriguing element was the exploration of various broadcasting methods for mayor and council meetings, with the council looking into a system called Swagit for potential inclusion in the 2024 budget.

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