Highland Park Borough Council Discusses New Family Connect Program, Snow Removal, and Health Benefits Plan Termination

The Highland Park Borough Council’s recent meeting was highlighted by the introduction of the Family Connect program to support families with newborns, updates on snow removal efforts, and discussions regarding the termination of participation in the state health benefits plan. The meeting also included the swearing-in of Officer Trey Wilson and the promotion of Officers Sean McGrath and Alberto Pacho to Sergeant, as well as updates on community services, local events, and various commission meetings.

The Family Connect program, a newly introduced initiative, promises to be a valuable resource for parents in the Highland Park community. The program offers visits from trained registered nurses to assess the health and provide guidance for both parents and newborns during the crucial early stages of a child’s life. This program aligns with the council’s focus on community welfare and the importance of early childhood development.

In addition to the Family Connect program, the council addressed the community’s response to the recent snowstorm. The Department of Public Works and the Highland Park Police Department were commended for their effective snow removal and maintaining order during the storm. The council emphasized the importance of residents and commercial property owners clearing their sidewalks, supporting the borough’s snow removal efforts.

The meeting also tackled financial concerns, notably the decision to terminate participation in the state health benefits plan due to significant rate hikes. The Borough Administrator provided an update on the search for alternative health plans, presenting a proposal from the Central Jersey Health Insurance Fund, which could offer cost savings and more stable rate increases. The Administrator stressed the necessity of addressing any outstanding questions before finalizing the termination of the current plan.

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During the meeting, the council also discussed the Park Partners Grant application process, revealing plans to make improvements to the Felton Avenue Tot Lot and reestablish pocket parks in the area. This includes the request for funds from the county open space Recreation farmland and historic trust fund. The Tot Lot improvements will involve universally accessible equipment and additional walkways, with the public being involved in the design process.

Public safety was another focal point, with concerns raised about the use of rock salt for snow removal and its impact on pets. Council President Matthew Hersh addressed these concerns.

The council further discussed budget matters, with an ordinance to exceed the municipal budget appropriation limits and establish a cap bank. This move allows the borough to exceed the budget by 1% using unused appropriations from previous years to insure against unexpected cost increases.

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The swearing-in and promotion ceremony at the start of the meeting set a positive tone, with Officer Trey Wilson being officially welcomed to the Highland Park police force and Officers Sean McGrath and Alberto Pacho being promoted to Sergeant. The council expressed pride in their dedication and commitment to the community’s safety.

Council members provided updates on various community services and events. Council Member Philip George spoke on the significance of Black History Month, encouraging participation in related events, and also provided an update on a recent fire that affected local businesses. Council Member Jason Postelnik discussed community services, including free tax preparation and summer camp registration, as well as an upcoming art event at the Zimmerli Museum. Council Member Matthew Hale mentioned the 5K race and winter markets and acknowledged the loss of Jerusalem Pizza and China Lee due to the fire.

Several community concerns were addressed, including questions about planning board reports, road closures, and the Rehabilitation and Redevelopment steering committee. The administrator clarified these points, providing details about the planning board’s considerations and ongoing discussions about South Third Avenue.

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The council also heard from citizens on topics such as the prolonged timeline for safe routes to school projects, the compliance of sidewalk cafes with ADA standards, and the need for updated bus shelters.

Legal and code compliance issues were noted, with the council acknowledging the importance of adhering to fire code enforcement regulations and the constitutional rights of property owners. The need for due diligence in property inspections and compliance with legal provisions was emphasized.

Finally, the meeting touched on communication issues, specifically the clarity of planning board reports and the public awareness of redevelopment plans. Suggestions were made to enhance the transparency of council discussions, including the introduction of council members before speaking, to aid those participating via audio.

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Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.

Mayor:
Elsie Foster
City Council Officials:
Matthew Hersh, Tara Canavera, Philip George, Matthew Hale, Stephany Kim Chohan, Jason Postelnik

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