Tenafly Council Tackles Stormwater Woes and Community Concerns in Pivotal Meeting

In a recent meeting of the Tenafly Borough Council, stormwater management took center stage. Mayor Mark Zinna underscored the urgency, noting that water is “falling faster and harder in shorter periods of time,” necessitating immediate and comprehensive solutions. The council is actively mapping the storm system, treating rainstorm notifications similarly to snowstorms, and exploring potential solutions such as cleaning out streams and utilizing the state’s Blue Acres fund.

The Mayor highlighted the regional nature of the stormwater challenges, emphasizing efforts to secure federal and state funding and upcoming discussions with state officials. The council acknowledged the increasing challenges posed by heavier rainfall, leading to frequent flooding, and the inadequacy of existing storm drain systems designed for 25-year storms. Residents voiced concerns about specific areas prone to flooding, such as East Clinton and Franklin Street, and the need for dredging local brooks, particularly Tenakill Brook.

During the meeting’s public comments portion, Angela Leone brought attention to the council’s decision to allocate a multi-use area solely for pickleball courts, emphasizing the area’s optimal location near schools, playgrounds, and the senior center. She proposed re-asphalting tennis courts for pickleball as an immediate solution, expressing frustration at the council’s perceived disregard for multi-use space. The mayor responded that expansion of the space was being considered, but plans were not finalized.

The council also debated personnel matters, specifically the resignation of the human resources manager and the appointment of an interim replacement. There was disagreement among council members on whether to vote separately on these items and whether to have a closed session discussion on the appointment. Some members expressed concerns about the turnover rate in the HR position and the need to understand the strategy before making a tactical decision. The council eventually decided to pull the item from the consent agenda due to the prevailing doubts and to discuss it in a future meeting after notifying the individual involved.

Additionally, the council addressed overpayments made to Marboro, which were attributed to changes in management companies and duplicate payments. The CFO, Susan Cado, explained the efforts made to resolve the issue and the arrangements for refunds and applying overpayments to future taxes. The council also recognized “Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day” and discussed efforts to increase awareness of opioid abuse and availability of Narcan in ambulances.

A significant portion of the meeting was dedicated to discussing amendments to the sign ordinance, particularly focusing on political signs. The current ordinance allows only one political sign per property, a stipulation that has been challenged by surrounding towns. The council debated whether to allow more than one election sign per property owner’s choosing. Some council members recalled that the original intent was to allow free expression signs, which could include additional political signs. However, it was noted that residents found the current wording of the ordinance unclear. The council discussed the possibility of clarifying the ordinance and communicating the rules more effectively to residents and campaign chairs, especially given the presence of an independent party in upcoming elections. The council aimed to address this issue without causing disruption before the upcoming November 7th election, considering sending out clarifications in the borough newsletter post-election.

The council was enthusiastic about the acquisition of a new senior van, which can accommodate two wheelchairs and does not require a CDL license to operate. The van was praised for its potential to alleviate isolation and loneliness among seniors by providing them with a convenient and safe mode of transportation. The council discussed the possibility of acquiring a second van due to anticipated waiting lists and encouraged starting the funding process early.

Various community updates were also shared, including the success of community night, which saw participation from 65 local businesses and an estimated attendance of 4,000 people. The council discussed ongoing vacancies in the recreation department and expressed frustration over the lack of progress in filling the positions. Additionally, the council announced upcoming events such as a vaccine clinic, a flu clinic, and an October Fest, and discussed the maintenance and improvements in the Rose Garden and the success of the composting pilot program.

The meeting touched on local development, with the approval of construction projects on Norman Place and Prospect Terrace, despite the properties having less frontage than zoned. The council also discussed community events, praising the welcoming committee for organizing a successful event for new residents, which had a turnout of over 100 people. The event was noted for making residents “feel welcomed to our community,” and there were discussions about possibly holding a future event at the Nature Center to highlight community features.

The council also thanked the police for a successful Community Night, which saw great participation from local businesses and residents. The upcoming T ofl Pride committee event for National Coming Out Day was mentioned, along with concerns about the potential impact of light rail developments on the Northern Valley Greenway project. The council emphasized the need to be “vocal” and “advocate” for the project, urging members to stay informed and speak to local assembly and senators.

Further discussions included the Historic Preservation Commission addressing concerns about the train station roof and the wording for the Elizabeth Katy Stanton station sign. The council also expressed concerns about a proposed development on Ivy Lane, potentially impacting Tenafly residents through storm water runoff, with a follow-up meeting scheduled for October 23rd.

Lastly, the mayor expressed gratitude towards the welcome committee and local businesses for supporting the new residence evening and Community Night, suggesting additional support for the next year’s events.

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