Mayor Schwager Says Goodbye, Council Proceeds with Patriots Way Bridge Project, and Residents Raise Concerns Over Lakes

In a recent meeting of the Oakland Borough Council, Mayor Linda H. Schwager bid farewell, with intentions to focus on family and health. The council also proceeded with discussions on the Patriots Way Bridge project, and residents raised concerns over the potential development and sale of Crystal and Mirror Lakes.

Mayor Schwager, in her final report, emphasized the progress made during her tenure. She highlighted the upcoming operation of the water purification treatment to address PFOA and PFAS concerns, funding secured for the Patriots Way bridge, and the imminent connection of the town’s sewer system to the Northwest Bergen Utilities Authority. Schwager expressed gratitude towards the town’s employees, including the police force, fire department, and first aid squad. She also noted her continued involvement in the town’s activities and intent to apply for a position on the zoning board as a citizen.

The council meeting proceeded to address the Patriots Way Bridge project. The council had received seven bids for the project, with the lowest bid from Concus Construction of Hillsboro, for $4,776,509.2. Councilman Kevin Slasinski indicated that, after speaking with engineers and other county contractors, they found no legal issues precluding them from recommending the award of the contract to Concus Construction. The project, funded by separate grants totaling $8.85 million, was explained to be a complex undertaking due to its location in the floodplain and the necessity to move utilities twice.

Councilwoman Pat Pignatelli expressed concerns about the significant gap between the lowest bid and the next few bidders, recalling a previous issue with a low bidder. Councilman Eric Kulmala, in response, clarified that the contractor’s method of supporting the utilities was different from others, leading to cost savings. Mayor Schwager raised concerns about the lifespan of the new bridge, given the previous failure due to the wrong material selection, but the council assured her that the materials and construction methods for the new project had been thoroughly reviewed.

In addition to the bridge project, residents raised concerns about the possible development and sale of Crystal and Mirror Lakes by the Ramapo Mountain Lakes (RML) organization. The lakes, held in high regard for their ecological importance and recreational value, have been a topic of concern for residents who urged the council to be part of the solution to preserve and manage the lakes for the benefit of the community.

The meeting also saw the approval of several raffle licenses for fundraising events and the discussion and approval of various resolutions and ordinances. One point of debate was the proposed amendments to code enforcement fees, with the council acknowledging the need to update the fee structure to cover costs, especially in light of upcoming projects.

Councilman Steven Saliani discussed the costs for the operation of the construction office, emphasizing the need to keep up with updating fees and salaries. Councilman Russell Talamini expressed gratitude to Mayor Schwager for her service and extended holiday wishes to everyone. The meeting concluded with the announcement of the Oath of Office ceremony scheduled for January 7th and the next council meeting on January 9th, 2024.

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.

Linda H. Schwager
City Council Officials:
Steven Saliani (Council President), Eric Kulmala (Councilman), John McCann (Councilman), Pat Pignatelli (Councilman), Kevin Slasinski (Councilman), Russell Talamini (Councilman)

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