Land Tensions and Infrastructure Initiatives Dominate Leonia Council Meeting

In a recent gathering, the Leonia Borough Council addressed pressing community concerns, most notably surrounding a parcel of land that’s been under resident maintenance for decades and a significant Broad Avenue infrastructure project.

Peter Casca, a resident of Lakeview Avenue, voiced concerns over a letter from borough attorney, Brian Chukowski, hinting at the possible sale or lease of a patch of land behind Casca’s driveway. Casca stated he has maintained the area for 30 years and was previously granted permission over the land by former Mayor Kaufman. Chukowski reassured attendees, emphasizing that no decisions had been made and that the borough isn’t currently eyeing development or sale.

On the infrastructure front, the council dove into discussions surrounding Broad Avenue’s Section 11 improvements. The ambitious $500,000 project, slated to begin potentially by August 28th, brought concerns about its impact, particularly with school reopening on the horizon. Conversations revolved around the safety of pedestrian movement and including school leadership in project planning. Another ordinance addressed ADA enhancements for the senior center, with a budget allocation of $165,000, partially funded through an $80,000 CDBG grant.

One of the night’s notable developments was the introduction of a digital sign for the new municipal center, priced at $58,995. Although planned for the library’s front lawn, its placement necessitates the library board’s formal consent. Council members debated the sign’s management, agreeing that it should represent the broader community rather than just the library.

Council President Louis Grandelos presented reports from several departments. Among them, the Fire Department registered 32 alarms in July, and its ongoing conversations center around budget, truck repairs, and station renovations. The Emergency Medical Services logged 72 incidents, with life-threatening and non-life-threatening response times averaging slightly over six minutes.

On the public works front, July witnessed the removal of six trees and painting aimed at pedestrian safety. The police department, as summarized by Councilman Davis, responded to 847 service calls and made notable arrests, recovering three handguns and a significant amount of marijuana.

Councilman Zivos showcased designs for new court chambers, forecasting an October completion. Meanwhile, Councilman Terrell shared that the Board of Ed remained dormant due to summer vacation, and Councilman Ziegler introduced architectural visuals of the new court chambers.

The meeting opened with a poignant moment of silence for the late Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver and closed with an executive session discussing property, affordable housing litigation, and personnel issues.

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