Saddle River Council Advances Community Bridge Project Amid Public Scrutiny

In a recent virtual meeting of the Saddle River Borough Council, members convened to discuss and advance a notable community bridge project, addressing public concerns regarding its budget and accessibility. The meeting, led by Mayor Albert J. Kurpis, saw the presence of Council Members John Azzariti, Duncan Carpenter, Jeff Liva, and Ravi Sachdev, with David Hekemian and Christopher DiGirolamo absent.

The focal point of the meeting was Resolution 164-23, read into the record by Councilman Sachdev. The resolution pertains to a community bridge project, which has been under scrutiny due to its evolving budget. Resident Vin Blehl recalled the project’s initial price tag of $600,000 four years ago, prompting Mayor Kurpis to clarify the various estimates and express the Governing Body’s comfort with the current cost, emphasizing the project’s significant community benefits.

The bridge project, designed in accordance with ADA regulations, aims to enhance community accessibility and engagement. Borough Engineer Martin Spence detailed the project’s commitment to creating firm and stable nature trails, removing obstructions, and utilizing ramps instead of steps to ensure accessibility. The project has received financial support through a recently approved Green Acres grant, intended for the development of the park’s west side.

Residents actively engaged in the discussion, voicing support for the hybrid meeting format and raising questions about the project’s overall budget, landscaping considerations, and accessibility to non-residents. Frank Hughes inquired about the inclusion of landscaping in the original bid spec, to which Mr. Spence confirmed its inclusion along with select landscaping trees to mitigate tree removal. Addressing concerns about park accessibility, Attorney David Lafferty clarified that parks in New Jersey are open to the public, irrespective of Green Acres.

Another resident, Henry Senger, raised concerns about the environmental impact, particularly regarding the use of chemicals for a spotted lanternfly program. Administrator Richard Molinari assured that more information would be forthcoming and posted prior to spraying, with additional details available on the borough website.

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