Millburn Township Committee Urges Engineers To Move Forward with Flood Mitigation Project

Mayor Robert Tillotson, left, congratulates Sharon Scalora after reading a proclamation supporting the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life in West Orange on June 13 and 14. Scalora, a volunteer and cancer survivor, said participants can register at West Orange High School. Credits: Patricia Harris

MILLBURN, NJ - Township leaders are recommending the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continue studying the feasibility of several alternatives to mitigate flooding in the Rahway River basin. That was the gist of a special resolution passed by the Township Committee Tuesday nght, as part of its efforts to control the west branch of the river as it flows through the South Mountain Reservation before entering the municipality.

The resolution notes the Corps released a feasibility study released on March 31 identifying three alternatives that would have a beneficial cost ratio, and the resolution endorses two of those. The first alternative, recommended by the township’s Environmental Commission, would make channel improvements and modify the Orange Reservoir outlet in the South Mountain Reservation.

The second alternative would raise and purchase homes in Cranford. Committee member Sandra Haimoff pointed out the Cranford alternative is not a regional solution and said the committee should not support the solution unless Cranford is on board with it. Mayor Robert Tillotson assured his fellow members the mayors coalition on the Rahway River, which includes Cranford’s leader, had agreed to that alternative at its meeting last month.

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In other business, the governing body passed its municipal budget for this year following no discussion during the public hearing. The $51.8 million budget calls for a 2 cent hike in the municipal tax rate. On an average home, valued at $1, 078,440, the municipal tax would be $5,003.96, an increase of $204.90. The homeowner’s final tax bill will also include school and county taxes.

Earlier, committee member Ted Bourke explained in a presentation the goal is to increase capital for public safety and emergency infrastructure. Items to be purchased include cameras and license plate readers and portable electric generators. Over the past four years, by holding down the tax rate, the township has reduced its cash surplus, and that amount needs to be replenished, Bourke also indicated.

Also at the session, the committee passed an ordinance regulating the operation of ice cream trucks in the township. The ordinance was passed in response to a request from a 9-year-old Little Leaguer who had asked the governing body to allow the trucks to come into Gero Park to sell their wares. The ordinance sets out standards for licensing and sets limits for selling activity. The trucks are allowed between 9 a.m. and sundown, but no later than 9 p.m. during spring and summer. Between the day after Labor Day and the end of October, selling must cease at 7 p.m. No bells, music or other audible advertisement may be used after 7 p.m.

In new business, the committee discussed the phasing of storm water projects in the South Mountain area with engineers from Hatch Mott MacDonald. The committee is considering nearly $5 million in improvements, including fixing storm sewers, enhancing and adding pumping facilities, building a flood wall behind Haran Circle and adding backup power for pump stations.

During public discussion, resident Doug Cundey warned the committee, “The education system is about to burn down in this town.” He explained he has been speaking out against a new federally mandated program of Common Core State Standards, which he contended will drag down the quality of education in the township.

Cundey has started an organization, Preserve Our Schools, which will present a town hall meeting Tuesday, May 13, from 7:30 to 9 p.m. at the Bauer Center in Taylor Park. Guest speaker will be Dr. Joseph Ricca, superintendent of the Elmsford Union Free School District inWestchester County, N.Y.

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