In a recent Montvale Borough Council meeting, a slew of issues ranging from recognition of military service to shared service agreement talks were addressed. However, a recurring theme of controversy permeated the entire gathering, revolving around the future of the local Pride event, which sparked significant debate.
The most noteworthy friction point at the meeting arose when the topic of a future Pride event was raised. Mayor Mike had halted plans for the event following negative experiences from the previous year, including being called a racist and publicly disparaged. As the Mayor explained, “I was cursed at. I was called a racist… that just backfired. And I said… ‘We will never have this again.'”
The Mayor’s unilateral decision was met with public criticism. Lauren Gebelma, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, contended, “You’re abandoning the community because you were called something bad. To me, that isn’t a reason to cancel the event.”
The discussion grew more heated as it was pointed out that all public events carry some risk of conflict. Gabriel Brodman, another resident, questioned the Mayor’s inconsistency in event handling, saying, “you can’t guarantee that there’s not going to be problems at any event that the town hosts outside.”
Despite the mayor’s willingness to host a Pride event in a controlled indoor setting, many advocated for an outdoor, community-centric gathering. The idea of making the event less political, to avoid potential conflict, was also suggested. The mayor finally agreed to discuss possible alternatives or modifications to the event at a committee meeting, emphasizing the need for safety and comfort for all attendees.
Furthermore, the discussion illuminated an issue with the event approval process. Resident Alan Brodman criticized the council for allegedly canceling the Pride event due to controversy while approving other events. A council member refuted this, saying that the issue lay with an event organizer’s inappropriate language, not the event itself.
Overall, the council meeting saw a vigorous exchange of views around the Pride event, culminating in the mayor’s commitment to attend a Special Events Committee meeting. The Mayor confirmed he would bring the discussed plans back to the council after this meeting, aiming for a vote on the issue during the next council meeting on April 25th.
The meeting also included a tribute to local serviceman, First Lieutenant John Aquavigo, who was recently deployed to Poland. Representatives from the 82nd Airborne Association and the Special Forces Association Chapter 19 were present, recognizing Aquavigo’s service with certificates of appreciation.
The council passed three ordinances, including one that clarifies and expands smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector requirements, a cap bank ordinance for the 2023 municipal budget, and another altering restrictions on Anchors Avenue. These ordinances were passed unanimously after public hearings elicited no comments.
Among other routine matters, the council also broached a shared service agreement for the use of Woodcliff Lake’s swimming pool. Resident Carol Lee Adams sparked a discussion about senior citizen access costs under the agreement, leading the council to revisit the issue with Woodcliff Lake’s representatives.