During a recent meeting of the South River Borough Council, several issues were addressed, including the vacant property ordinance, concerns about the Environmental Commission, and updates on various initiatives. The council also welcomed a new police officer, Jonathan Torres, and heard from residents about their desires for the community.
Jonathan Torres, an alternate route candidate, was sworn into the South River Police Department. During the ceremony, Torres expressed his gratitude to the council and the police department for the opportunity to serve the community. He also gave insights into the challenges he faced during his training. The council commended Torres and the ceremony served as a significant and symbolic moment, highlighting the council’s commitment to public safety and community engagement.
A notable concern raised by Councilwoman Julie Meira revolved around the Environmental Commission. She suggested adjustments to its membership to allow for non-voting junior members from all local schools, not just South River High School. Meira also proposed changes to the $25 fee for tree removal applications, advocating for its removal or enforcement only when trees were actually removed. The council showed interest in these recommendations, promising further review and discussion.
A vacant property ordinance was also a key subject in the session. Council President Tony Ciulla expressed concern that the list of vacant properties in town was incomplete, excluding commercial buildings. He also pointed out that the fees for vacant properties had not been collected since 2019. The council considered bringing in a third-party agency to manage the list and enforce the fees, potentially relieving the burden on the code enforcement officer.
The council also discussed a traffic study and its recommendations. These proposals were assigned to the business administrator and the head of the Department of Public Works. The issue of renaming a street was briefly mentioned, with the council suggesting a similar approach to previous street-naming decisions.
The council approved several resolutions, including renewing dental coverage for 2024 with no increase, suspending parking meter fees from Thanksgiving through December, and purchasing a rolloff container. The meeting also saw the council discuss various ordinances presented for consideration, including amendments to the borough code regarding property maintenance and the fee structure, and the creation of a redevelopment chapter.
The council received reports from their engineer, Mr. Cotch, who provided updates on various projects like the 2023 local aid program and the transportation grant. He shared the news of a significant grant of $66,918 for the 2024 local transportation projects and hinted at the possibility of additional funding in the future.
Councilwoman Balazs raised concerns about handicap ramps and drainage problems in the town during the engineer’s report. Mr. Cotch assured her that these issues were being addressed, with plans in development to improve the south side of town’s drainage and a cost-effective solution being explored for the handicap ramps.
During the meeting, the council also discussed their plans to assist with Thanksgiving preparations at St. Peter and Paul’s and the upcoming Santa Claus Sunday event, which they are co-organizing with the police department.