Chatham Township Committee Honors Chaputs, Discusses Skate Park

Committeeman Bailey Brower recognizes Paul and Micki Chaput for their contributions to Chatham. Credits: Alexandra Lubischer
Mike Kelley of the Environmental Committee. Credits: Alexandra Lubischer
Mayor Nicole Hagner and a representative of Susan G. Komen Credits: Alexandra Lubischer
Mary Rohe of Chatham Borough and Mimi Mehta of Chatham Township, volunteers who are spearheading the skate park project. Credits: Alexandra Lubischer

CHATHAM TOWNSHIP, NJ - It was a packed house for the Chatham Township Committee meeting on Thursday night.

The committee had a large agenda for the meeting that began by honoring the retirements of Paul and Margret “Micki” Chaput. The Chaputs have been active in the community for more than 40 years. Micki was recognized for her work with the senior center and Paul for his years of teaching and coaching in the district.

Well over an hour of the meeting was spent discussing the renovations to the township skate park, with many supporters in the audience.

Currently the town, using several leftover supplies from the parks original build, has rebuilt the structures that are made for preforming tricks. With these fixes, the park is expected to reopen for public use in the near future. However, resurfacing of the park is still in discussion. An estimate for the resurfacing was presented to the
committee for between $15,000 and $17,000.

To aide the town in facilitating funds for the parks resurfacing and upkeep, several groups and parents are raising money. Some ideas were presented from many community members and teens, including forming clubs, like those set up for baseball, to help sustain the park.

Two local mothers circulated a survey to gauge interest, and 872 teens responded and indicated that they would use the skate park. Some 160 students from Chatham High School also signed a petition to add a skateboard team to the school. The students spoke of a teacher who was willing to participate in the team as a coach.

Residents from Chatham Township and the Borough, as well as New Providence, Madison and Florham Park attended the meeting to speak of the camaraderie and respect that they have witnessed by the youth at the park.

A former member of the Chatham Board of Education spoke about the need for the park, for children who cannot participate in organized sports at school.

Several children and parents were disappointed that only skateboards and inline skates are allowed for use at the park. The current ordinance of the town does not permit any other equipment such as BMX bikes or scooters.

The safety of all patrons of the park was the reason for the restrictions according to the town, although committee members said they are open to revising the ordinance.

In other meeting business, the committee members spend a considerable amount of time grilling a
representative from JCP&L regarding new storm procedures that the company is employing, giving all the committee members a chance to ask questions. This was the first time a representative has come to an open meeting, although he has been in contact with a few town officials since the storm.

The presentation by JCP&L covered many options the company is working towards in the event of another natural disaster like Super Storm Sandy.

One idea that was offered by the committee to have the JCP&L train a few town employee on various electrical situations so that the town could be of service expediting some simple tasks during a storm. The representative said JCP&L was open to this suggestion and commented that several towns have been requesting such a service.

A member of the township's Environmental Committee spoke at the meeting to ask the committee’s permission to hold a series of lectures on trees as well as a tree sale for the spring. This initiative would be in an attempt to help residents rebuild their property and the town from storm damages. About 12 varieties of trees that will
range from three to five feet tall will be sold for roughly $40 each to residents who attend the seminars.

The next Township Committee meeting will be Thursday, Feb. 14 and will begin at 6:30 p.m. to officially swear in the new Chief of Police.

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