Saddle River Council Spars with Residents Over Property Disputes, Pursues Park Expansion

In an eventful Borough of Saddle River Council meeting, the council navigated sensitive property disputes and discussed infrastructure projects.

Tension simmered over March 20, 2023 ordinances 23-1053-M and 23-1054-M. A prickly exchange ensued between Kimberley Brunner, Esq. of Beattie Padovano and Attorney David Lafferty about ongoing litigation tied to the ordinances. Despite the charged atmosphere, the matter concluded without a clear direction.

Adding to the mix, Councilman DiGirolamo highlighted that the disputed property related to these ordinances is up for sale, stoking suspicion and inciting a slew of questions from Steve Sweeney about why a higher offer had been rejected by the bank.

Meanwhile, in a major stride toward enhancing public spaces, a public hearing on the submission of a 2023 Bergen County Trust Fund Grant application for Rindlaub Park was held. The council detailed a vision for expanding the park by 2 acres, creating interior walking paths, and adding new architectural features. The grant sought was $100,000, with Saddle River providing matching funds. Following this, Resolution 99-23, which authorized the grant application for Rindlaub Park Path Extension Phase 2, was approved unanimously.

Local resident Marilyn Goldfischer raised vocal concerns about park usage and suggested creating ordinances to prevent activities such as sleeping in the park. The council told Goldfischer that she needed to be constructive with those criticisms. Meanwhile, her proposals for the use of durable substrate material for pathways, solar panel tiles for a pedestrian bridge, and favoring wood over concrete for deck and ramps was well-received by Mayor Kurpis.

The Mayor also updated the council on a shared services meeting with NorthWest Bergen mayors, signaling increased cooperation between boroughs. A major highlight of the meeting was the announcement by engineer Martin Spence of the imminent commencement of NJDOT Streetscape 6. This project focuses on the Exxon property, aiming to enhance street lighting, electrical updates, and potential future irrigation systems. He also revealed that FEMA projects were nearing completion and the Bergen County Open Space Grant for trail extension had been approved.

The council continued to debate pressing issues related to water provision to Allendale. Councilman Sachdev stressed the necessity of reviewing billing from previous years, a concern that has been an ongoing point of contention.

Rounding off the meeting, Mayor Kurpis announced the start of the Saddle River Tennis Academy program and a flower planting initiative by the Beautification Committee. The council also gave the green light to a range of resolutions, including a DMHAS Youth Leadership Grant and non-union salary increases, all passed without opposition.

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