School Safety and Tree Preservation Dominate Old Tappan Town Meeting

In a recent town council meeting, heightened concerns over school safety and a debate over a new tree preservation ordinance took center stage.

Amid ongoing discussions, school safety emerged as a primary topic, with many council members expressing apprehensions about access points at local schools, potential vulnerabilities, and the potential for dangerous incidents. The seriousness of the matter was underscored by a member’s mention of potential threats like unauthorized armed individuals. While some advocated for stricter lockdowns and gate control, others felt the onus of security should lie squarely with the school’s administration. The council proposed that a formal letter, addressing these concerns, be drafted to the Board of Education.

Parallel to safety, the council dove into Ordinance 1242-23 regarding tree preservation. Aligning with New Jersey DEP regulations, the new ordinance aims to regulate tree removal by homeowners. The motivation behind this is not just ecological but also linked to the town’s stormwater plan, possibly tapping into funding opportunities. While the essence of the ordinance revolves around the protection of trees, several concerns arose, especially regarding its enforcement, potential fines, and possible conflicts with public utility actions or town decisions. A highlighted concern was the perceived disparity between the regulations placed on homeowners and the perceived freedom the borough might have in tree removal. The council acknowledged the need for more clarity and decided to seek further insights.

Apart from these major topics, other matters included a discussion on golf membership reimbursement for Tom Corcoran, due to his injury, who has been a significant contributor to the golf community. The council leaned towards honoring his reimbursement request. Additionally, the appointment of new firefighters, various street improvements, and Knockout Opioid Abuse Day were addressed under a “consent resolution”.

The council also praised Councilman Boyce for his imminent environmental award, lauding his leadership and innovative approaches, notably his idea for a veterans memorial at Oaks Park and updates to the tree ordinance. The commendable initiative of Kara Boyce in American Sign Language teaching was also recognized, leading to a discussion on the importance of this skill for first responders.

Towards the conclusion, the council touched on concerns related to overgrown intersections in town, emphasizing the necessity for stricter enforcement actions against non-compliant property owners.

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