Haworth Borough Council Passes Key Ordinances, Approves Personnel Changes

In a significant series of actions, the Haworth Borough Council, led by Mayor Heather Wasser, met on May 9, 2023, to make decisions on numerous ordinances and appointments. The meeting featured key decisions concerning the organizational structure of the Haworth Volunteer Fire Department, Deputy Borough Clerk’s role, the 2023 Municipal Budget, and planned infrastructure development.

Opening the meeting, the council unanimously approved Ordinance No. 20-08, which establishes a Deputy Borough Clerk role with a defined set of duties, terms of appointment, and compensation. Ordinance No. 23-09, which provides amendments to the Fire Department Ordinance, was also unanimously passed. The latter details the volunteer fire department’s structure, officer duties, and selection processes, plus introduces a Junior Fire Fighter Auxiliary and Department Auxiliary.

Significant attention was paid to the proposed improvements at Memorial Field. In connection to this, the council expressed its intention to apply for a matching grant from the County Trust Fund, which could amount to $100,000, provided assurances of securing necessary remaining funds, and set a timeline for project completion.

The 2023 Municipal Budget, scheduled for introduction on May 23rd, stirred some debates. It includes increased stipends and a salary increase for the replacement of Mr. Hennion. A contentious point arose over the requirement of Department of Public Works (DPW) employees to be members of the fire department or ambulance corps as part of their employment agreement. Mayor Wasser proposed adjustments to the salary ordinance to alleviate these concerns.

The council accepted the resignation of Councilwoman Guenego, with Alanna Davis unanimously appointed to complete her term. Other appointments included Keith Kolkebeck as the Office of Emergency Management Coordinator, Emily Venezio as the Public Safety Officer for the Haworth Police Department, and Christopher Pellegrino as a Driver-Laborer for the DPW.

A significant resolution concerning the contract with Jag Paving Corp. for the installation of pickleball courts at the Haworth Swim Club was discussed. A change order of $64,850, exceeding the 20% limitation due to unforeseen circumstances, was approved considering potential litigation threats and the anticipation of improved conditions at the Swim Club.

Among other issues, the council endorsed Bill S3739/A5402 to extend the 3rd round of obligations for affordable housing by an additional three years, to assess its effectiveness and the impact of Covid-19 on the tax base and land use plans. The council further recognized May as Mental Health Awareness Month, acknowledging the medical nature of mental illness, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health, and the importance of seeking treatment. The Borough of Haworth was declared to continue being a Stigma-Free Zone.

The public participated actively, questioning improvements at Memorial Field and raising the issue of late-night pickleball games. In response, the council confirmed that field improvements were part of the annual grant application and clarified the pickleball situation.

In the end, the council resolved to support Pride Month and agreed to proceed with a project to air-condition borough offices, pending a capital ordinance to be introduced at the next meeting.

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