In a recent Rutherford Borough Council meeting, attendees discussed a wide range of public concerns, focusing on the announcement of a $5 million appropriation from the state budget to modernize Memorial Park. The upgrade is expected to take at least a year, but council members, including the mayor and the borough administrator, insisted on ensuring local sports programs’ continuity during the project’s execution.
Addressing infrastructure needs, Brian Zindola, the Borough’s engineer, provided updates on restoration works by PSNG, DOT grants, ADA bathroom construction at Tamlin Field, and a ramp installation at Borough Hall. The Council President lauded Brian and Bob for their efforts to enhance the Borough Hall’s accessibility.
Despite these advances, the meeting was not without its share of criticisms. A recurring theme was the ongoing flooding issue in the borough, most notably emphasized by resident Bob Shaffer. He described how his property had been swamped with over 150,000 gallons of water during Hurricane Ida and urged the council to make use of available FEMA funds for infrastructural improvements. In response, the council is reportedly exploring FEMA funding opportunities and working with the borough administrator and borough engineer to access this money.
Another focal point was the matter of affordable housing and Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreements. Residents like Catherine Marshall and Rod Cain voiced concerns about parking spaces being lost due to the Agnew development, the off-siting of affordable housing, and potential PILOT agreements favoring developers at taxpayers’ expense. Resident Adam Zora echoed these sentiments, questioning the legality of the variance in salaries among board and commission secretaries.
The council also approved a redevelopment agreement involving the Kipp Avenue project, which involves a $275,000 contribution from the borough’s trust fund towards seven affordable housing units. This move is part of a broader initiative to support affordable housing and foster inclusivity within the borough, with a specific focus on differently-abled residents, seniors, and veterans.
The meeting concluded with a promise to address the borough’s parking woes in the next agenda, a commitment to maintaining open communication with residents, and an assurance to look into improving handicapped parking and walking paths on Park Avenue. Council President McGowan surprised attendees by reversing her previous decision to resign due to a move out of state, announcing her decision to stay and serve the Rutherford community.
Among other topics discussed, a resolution was proposed to rename a portion of Crane Avenue to honor Alonzo Sisco Jr., the first black councilman in Rutherford, and a respected public servant. The council also unanimously passed several ordinances on their first reading, most notably amending construction site fencing and facade treatments. Despite some objections from the public, the council approved an amendment to the Theater District Redevelopment Plan Area A.