In a recent Oakland Borough Council meeting, concerns over a proposed Class B recycling facility and the adoption of an innovative Complete and Green Streets Policy took center stage. The Council delved into a series of issues ranging from environmental projects to community safety and upcoming town events, urging active community participation and addressing residents’ concerns.
Mayor Linda H. Schwager led the discussions, placing emphasis on community engagement, especially on issues surrounding the proposed recycling facility by Oakland Materials LLC and the ongoing water main replacement on Lakeside Boulevard. The proposed facility at 342 West Oakland Avenue raised concerns due to its proximity to the Ramapo River and Potash Lake and the nature of materials it would handle, including waste from construction, demolition operations, whole trees, scrap tires, and petroleum-contaminated soil. The mayor encouraged the public to attend a hearing by the Bergen County Utilities Authority (BCUA) to inquire and express their views on the project, stressing the importance of community understanding and participation.
The Council showcased a report by the Environmental Commission and the Green Team, titled “Complete and Green Streets Policy”. The 62-page document advocates for policies addressing the mobility needs of all road users and various modes of transport. Mayor Schwager and the Council members expressed enthusiasm about the potential of the report to revitalize downtown Oakland and enhance public health, economic vitality, transportation, and equity, with plans for formal adoption later in the fall.
Addressing infrastructure, the Council discussed progress on the Patriot’s Way Bridge, with advertisements for bids planned before October 13, 2023, and the Lakeside Water Main project slated for late fall into winter. A grant submittal for approximately $10,640,000 was authorized for the superstructure replacement of the Patriot’s Way Bridge, signaling commitment to infrastructure enhancement.
Safety was another critical theme, with the Mayor arranging a follow-up meeting concerning children’s safety and a council member commending the local police officers for their commitment to maintaining safety. Specific incidents of insecure facilities, such as an open gate and an unlocked front door, were discussed, showcasing the Council’s responsiveness to immediate safety concerns.
Residents actively participated, raising concerns and seeking resolutions. Mike Buonio inquired about the restoration of the Doherty parking lot, while Keri C. Arnides voiced frustration over a fee for replacing a removed tree. The Council addressed these concerns, providing assurances and advising avenues for resolution.
Council members, including Russell Talamini, also spotlighted upcoming town events, such as fundraisers, festivals, the annual car show, a horseshoe tournament supporting the military, and the Halloween Parade. Councilman Talamini emphasized the importance of inclusivity through the Access for All initiative, remarking, “It’s nice that we include people that need a little extra in our public event stuff… I can’t believe that we didn’t do it sooner.”
Further, discussions around amending MUAH zone standards and ordinance, streetscape enhancements, and a major modification of a water allocation permit demonstrated the Council’s commitment to urban development and resource management. Members reviewed a draft streetscape, exploring amenities like trees, sidewalk treatments, bike racks, and benches, and addressed the modification of water allocation permit 5199 for expanding sewer service in the Highlands area.
On a lighter note, the Council discussed a New York Times reporter’s visit to Oakland, deeming it “a big honor”, and acknowledged the contributions of Michael Corelli, who was moving on to become the borough administrator in Pompton Lakes.