In a wide-ranging meeting held on May 8, 2023, the River Vale Town Council showcased its commitment to addressing both local and county-wide concerns, among them, mental health awareness, infrastructure management, and affordable housing delays. The meeting was led by Council President Criscuolo, and all decisions were unanimously approved by the council members present, with Councilwoman Sieg absent.
The most momentous resolution passed during the assembly was the affirmation of May 2023 as Mental Health Awareness Month, a move intended to highlight the importance of mental health in overall well-being. Coinciding with the 10th anniversary of the Stigma-Free Initiative in Bergen County, Resolution #2023-130, and the subsequent #2023-131, accentuated the Township’s ongoing efforts to create a Stigma-Free Zone aimed at reducing societal stigma tied to mental health issues. It is estimated that mental illness affects one in five Americans, a condition further aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In light of the post-pandemic surge in construction and associated strain on local infrastructure, the Council endorsed a delay in implementing the fourth round of Affordable Housing obligations. Supporting Bill S3739/A5402 through Resolution #2023-132, the Council seeks to extend the 3rd round obligations by three years, allowing municipalities additional time to assess the effects of the previous round and to gauge the ongoing impacts of the pandemic.
The Council also put its stamp on various financial and administrative measures. It approved the 2023 budget via Resolution #2023-125, with the absence of Councilwoman Sieg. A series of refunds for Camp Have Some Fun registration fees, and a 2nd quarter property tax overpayment were also approved, as well as refunds for two residents’ River Vale Country Club Ladies League Membership fees.
Resolution #2023-129 saw the Council apply for a grant from the Bergen County Open Space, Recreation, Farmland & Historic Preservation Trust Fund. The matching grant of $75,000 seeks to fund improvements at the Township of River Vale Upper Grove (Library) Park, with the Council guaranteeing matching funds and compliance with all relevant laws and regulations.
The Council agreed on selling surplus Township equipment, via Resolution #2023-131, and introduced a new ordinance amending the fee structure for construction codes, aimed at improving cost management within the local construction sector.
Although there were opportunities for public comment during the meeting, particularly for the Bergen County Trust Fund Grant Application and the 2023 Municipal Budget, no public questions or comments were raised. The session ended at 7:38 pm, closing an evening characterized by a sweeping range of topics, from mental health to affordable housing, touched on by the Council.