In a vibrant confluence of local governance, the recent Oakland Borough Council meeting saw members discussing and deliberating student achievements, infrastructure problems, a cannabis-related campaign and upcoming community events.
Mayor Schweiger emphasized the importance of unity in the community and highlighted the success of Oakland students in the William Patterson Annual Professional Development Schools Art Exhibit. The standout performers, Sidney Reid and Rick Brett from Dogwood Elementary School, were specially mentioned for their grade-level winning entries. Furthermore, Junior Commissioner of the Communications Commission, Benjamin, received accolades for his video submission showcasing the volunteer efforts of the Oakland Volunteer Fire Department.
However, it was the council’s focus on infrastructure and public safety that took center stage. Community members expressed concerns over the deteriorating condition of a local bridge and potential safety issues surrounding Chase Bank and the Lukoil gas station area. Paving delays due to a sewer project that involves drilling under a downtown railroad were also discussed. Notably, the council is considering a financing plan by Boswell Engineering for the bridge’s superstructural replacement. The project is under consideration by the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT), and even if the NJDOT declines to contribute, the council plans to move forward with the bridge replacement regardless.
Cannabis-related discussions also surfaced, mainly due to a potential campaign by council members Andrea and John. Cannabis Committee Member Pat Picatelli’s firm stance on cannabis use for medical purposes was notably commended, indicating a progressive shift in the council’s stance on the issue.
In other significant decisions, the council greenlit a permit to the Oakland Elks Lodge 2167 for a social affair and issued two appointments: Steve Ponazian to the Sustainable Oakland Green Team, and Andrew Jasana to the Planning Board as an alternate. Additionally, Boswell Engineering was granted a contract for water main improvement projects on Lakeside Boulevard.
In a nod to inclusivity, the council agreed to delete the term ‘traditional’ from the definition of ‘family,’ in policy, highlighting a progressive view of modern family structures. Other critical financial decisions involved approving public improvements and acquisitions worth over $1.4 million, funded by the borough’s Capital Improvement Fund and grants.
Lastly, the meeting saw enthusiastic support for a presentation by Girl Scouts on their Silver Award project – a sustainable pollinator garden within the community. As a reflection of the council’s engagement with community concerns, they agreed to look into an ordinance to ban gas blowers due to environmental and noise considerations.