Mahwah Hails New Police Chief

In an eventful Mahwah Town Council meeting, officials came together to discuss numerous topics with a central focus on local development and safety concerns. The meeting, which spanned multiple hours, provided an opportunity for community members to voice their concerns and observe their elected officials’ decision-making processes.

At the onset, Lieutenant Timothy O’Hara, the newly-appointed Police Chief, was unanimously approved and commended for his long-standing service in law enforcement. The introduction of O’Hara was seen as an integral step toward ensuring public safety and creating a more secure environment within the community.

In the spirit of bolstering local safety, a major issue on the docket was the proposed resolution for improving pedestrian safety on East Ramapo Ave. Pegged at an estimated cost of $128,000, partially funded by a $76,500 Department of Transport (DOT) grant, the project involves the installation of advanced warning signs for pedestrians in an area with limited sight distances.

Simultaneously, the council discussed extensive engineering works, including the replacement of a decaying culvert on Fardell Avenue. The ambitious project, estimated to cost between $700,000 and $1 million, could begin in the winter of 2024-25, pending permit approvals.

Further safety concerns included a bridge on Route 202, under county jurisdiction, troubled by frequent truck collisions. Although unrelated to the ongoing pedestrian safety topic, it marked another significant issue within the council’s broad safety agenda.

In addition to these pressing safety measures, local infrastructure saw substantial attention. Topics ranged from the Mahwah Municipal Pool project finalization to Airmount Road’s guardrail installation, upcoming road closures, and the Continental Soldiers’ tennis and pickleball project.

One prevalent debate revolved around the inconvenience residents faced when exiting the municipal pool due to road closures. Proposed solutions included setting up a temporary signal or allowing a U-turn, which ultimately resulted in an agreement to contact relevant county authorities for a resolution.

The council also deliberated on the potential for increased power outages due to the development of MacArthur Ridge. In response, they resolved to contact Rockland Electric to evaluate the concern.

Meanwhile, Ordinance 2011 sparked contentious discussion. The legislation proposes to amend zoning and site plan regulations to ban large-scale warehouses in a particular zone along Ridge Road and the MacArthur area. The proposed ordinance is a proactive measure to prevent issues like the Russo development and symbolizes the town’s urgency to address the matter.

Another ordinance, 2012, introduced a volunteer Mahwah EMS stipend program, with an allocated budget of $50,000 for the year. Designed to reward volunteers for their work, this program will potentially see its budget adjusted in the future based on its success.

Further considerations involved the potential installation of street lights along Ridge Road due to the area’s current darkness, the construction of the DPW building, submission for a fiscal year 2024 Safe Streets grant to develop an action plan for a bike path, and the installation of AEDs at all fields in the township for emergency use.

There was a debate over Ordinance 2010, which aims to amend the township code to prohibit the sale of dogs and cats in retail stores. Despite some opposition, the ordinance passed.

Also on the agenda was the matter of installing electric vehicle charging stations. The council is weighing the pros and cons of using a company offering free services but generating revenue through advertising, versus installing and managing the charging stations themselves, potentially offsetting costs through user charges.

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