Millburn Township Backs Paper Mill Playhouse with $7 Million Support

In a recent session, Millburn Town Council has proposed a major investment in the local cultural institution, the Paper Mill Playhouse, with a resolution to authorize $7 million in support of essential capital improvements. The proposal drew discussion at the recent council meeting, with expressions of gratitude from the Playhouse’s Executive Director for the township committee’s support. The director outlined the necessity of the renovations for the theater’s sustainability and long-term viability, emphasizing the Paper Mill Playhouse’s role in bolstering local businesses and the community.

The meeting also delved into the issue of the Fair Share Housing litigation, with discussions centering on a developer’s request for sanctions against the township. A briefing schedule was set by the court, and motions from the involved parties were scheduled to be heard.

In an act of community recognition, the council presented the Community Service Award to the Interfaith Food Pantry of the Oranges, acknowledging the organization’s invaluable service in addressing food insecurity, especially during the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic. The organization’s leadership expressed their thanks, while the Mayor commended their efforts and called for continued community support.

The discussion then turned to the open space tax resolution, a significant policy item proposing a tax of one cent per $100 of assessed property value. This tax is intended to fund open space preservation and recreation facilities, and is slated for a public referendum. The council emphasized the opportunities this tax could bring, which the town has previously not capitalized on.

The Downtown Traffic Circulation Improvement Subcommittee announced a forthcoming meeting to consider plans for two-way traffic on Essex Street. The Parking Ad Hoc Committee addressed safety concerns and the need for updating pay stations.

Updates on the Historical Preservation Committee’s efforts for the Main Street New Jersey designation and potential historic district status for Short Hills Village and Taylor Park were shared, though details were sparse in the transcript. The meeting also touched on environmental initiatives, although specifics were not provided.

During the public comments section, the council heard from multiple residents. Topics included concerns over the financial request by the Paper Mill Playhouse, with suggestions that the organization should fulfill past commitments before undertaking new projects. Pedestrian safety on Wyoming Avenue was raised, advocating for additional crossings. Questions were posed about the public forum on the Paper Mill transaction and the use of resolutions versus ordinances for committee establishment. The potential impact of legislation on transient housing was also discussed, with queries about town regulations for Airbnb.

Residents also commented on the importance of supporting the arts in children’s education and the Paper Mill Playhouse’s efforts to make performances accessible to individuals with disabilities. The pending legislation on accessory dwelling units prompted concerns about state intervention in local zoning, with suggestions for the committee to consider opposing the legislation.

The meeting concluded with the approval of an ordinance and its publication in accordance with the law. A resident proposed creating a pedestrian mall on Milburn Avenue and adding a gazebo to Taylor Park, while another offered to provide a certification under oath regarding a legal matter and questioned the police department’s transparency in crime reporting. The funding of the Paper Mill Playhouse and the implications of the $7 million allocation on taxpayers were debated, alongside the need for metrics around two-way traffic and the implementation of surge pricing for curbside parking. Concerns about ADA accessible crossings and speeding on certain streets were also voiced.

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.
Annette Romano
City Council Officials:
Frank Saccomandi IV, Michael H. Cohen, Tara B. Prupis, Ben Stoller, Christine Gatti (Township Clerk), Jessica Cruz (Executive Assistant)

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