River Edge Council Debates Aesthetics and Accessibility of Borough Hall

River Edge Borough Council’s latest meeting was marked by a passionate discussion about the proposed redesign of the Borough Hall entrance, with the focus being on both the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance and the aesthetic look of the final design.

Jason Flores, a professional engineer representing Custom Engineering, presented the blueprint, emphasizing accessibility with ramps and stairs leading to both the Borough Hall and the police department entrances. A significant portion of the design focused on preserving a bench dedicated to a fallen officer and allowing space for three memorial stones in honor of retired police officers.

However, the design’s aesthetics were hotly debated. One council member pointed to the significant amount of concrete in the proposal, remarking, “the yellow in this presentation board is all the concrete work…we’re trading all that beautiful brick for gray concrete that deteriorates, gets dirty easily, and requires a lot more upkeep.” The sentiment was echoed by several council members who expressed a preference for a more pleasing design than simply replacing red brick with concrete. The matter was further complicated by parking changes, revealing a break-even situation for the police.

To address the aesthetic concerns, a council member suggested involving the land use board for comments, even if formal approval wasn’t required. The next meeting was scheduled for September 14th, where further discussions are expected.

Mr. Costa, another presenter at the meeting, emphasized the main goal: ADA compliance. While the initial design proposed concrete, Costa highlighted that material changes could be made based on feedback. There was room for flexibility, including adding seating areas. He concluded optimistically, “if the council likes what they see, everything else will fall into place.”

Another agenda highlight was the storm drain art contest, which is in its third year. This year, fifth graders designed messages for storm drains after a comprehensive learning module on water pollution. Laura Hookstrate, representing the River Edge Environmental Commission, shared that the winning designs would soon adorn storm drains near the library across Memorial Park and Roosevelt School, educating the public about keeping drains free of pollutants.

In administrative matters, the council acknowledged the retirements of several public servants, including police officer Michael Varicia and crossing guards, Referred Payload Lolo and John Goebel. Tina Morose’s appointment to the Board of Health was another significant point. Mayor Thomas Papaleo underscored the vital role of community contributors like Morose in earning River Edge a recent distinction as one of New Jersey’s best towns.

Pickleball court installations near Surrey Lane also generated discussion. The community’s growing interest in pickleball was evident, with over a hundred River Edge residents expressing interest. Concerns about noise levels from the sport were raised, especially during early morning hours, prompting suggestions for noise mitigation and a review by the recreation commission.

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