The Van Kirk Homestead and SECTV Among Topics of Discussion at Sparta Township Council Meeting

Credits: Jennifer Fratangelo
Councilman Jerry Murphy, Mayor Gilbert Gibbs and Deputy Mayor Molly Whilesmith. Credits: Jennifer Fratangelo
Councilwoman Christine Quinn and Township Manager David Troast. Credits: Jennifer Fratangelo

SPARTA, N.J. - “We have a town council that is going to work really hard for you,” said recently elected Mayor Gilbert Gibbs.

The Feb. 12 Sparta Township Council meeting began later than normal at 8:10 p.m., due to a hearing that took longer than expected, and lasted until almost 10:30 p.m., when the council broke for an executive session.

During the open public sessions the following issues were taken up. First to speak was Ed Fritsch, President of the Sparta Historical Society, and Vice-President Renee Fergeson. They are trying to put their final touches on the purchase of Van Kirk Homestead, and need funds to be able to make repairs. They would like to receive money for covering costs of up to $5,000 in startup funds, and would like to be put on liability and fire/ flood insurance. The council mentioned that the Sparta Historical Society may also have an opportunity to receive grant funds or use the Sheriff Departments prisoners to help with maintenance. Their request will be reviewed and the council will get back to them.

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Said Fritsch, “We are really trying to keep the history of Sparta alive.”

The second public complaint was by G. Richards (citizen did not provide his first name) who was upset about SECTV’s discontinuation of FM Service, and that basic cable charges are being raised too. He believes someone should look into how many other customers are upset by this. Township manager David Troast told Richards that he will call and see why the company is getting rid of the FM service, and an explanation for the 30 percent charge increase.

Next was Rich Sullivan who piggybacked off of Richards’s complaint about SECTV. He expressed his displeasure at SECTV and their monetary issues involving charging customers, for periods where they lacked power during Hurricane Sandy.

“I think it was the worst customer service that anyone in the community could indulge,” said Sullivan, on his phone conversation with SECTV.

The council is within their rights to ask someone from SECTV to come to a meeting and explain the company’s stance; Troast and Attorney Tom Ryan said that they would look into this course of action.


The final person to speak during the open session was Dawn Corbo, who was curious if the town had an aesthetic committee in place, and would like to know the cost factor for seasonal light fixtures. The council said that they would look into the costs, and that perhaps they could look at the town aesthetically through the Parks and Recreations committee.

The manager’s report, given by David Troast, touched on the following thirteen points. He had Stan Puszcz from CP Engineering discuss the creation of the proposal for a White Deer Plaza Waste Water Treatment Facility, and Troast was given permission to move forward to hire a CP Engineer. Also discussed was the appointment of a new firemen, Kevin Fallon; the ability to finalize police promotions before March 1; an update on the animal control shared services, indicating that discussions with the Newton contact have been postponed due to budgeting reviews, but there will be continued follow-up; two bids were received and are being reviewed for fire trucks; an update on the DPW Trucks- two dump trucks were lost, but the town has a new truck coming by the end of the month, and will look into other truck buying options; grant writing funds are currently being advertised; Sparta, in response to a waiver, will share the fees with Andover Township/Perona Enterprises; the line of authority ordinance must be reviewed and it is required that the council checks that the police hierarchy is in order; regarding the Lake Grinnell Dam inspection the town is required to do certain things with it and this it was put on the agenda for the next meeting; the water fountain at Ungermann Field has been ordered, and should be in Sparta by the Spring, as should recycling containers for parks and, finally, a request for right of way access for black fiber on municipal roads was put on the agenda for the next meeting.

The council then proceeded forward with a PowerPoint presentation detailing the goals each committee member has for the year and also discussed the different objectives of all of the committees and boards.

 The following resolutions were approved: refund of tax overpayments and state tax appeal credit, cancel tax balance, water account credit, one-day ABC license for Haven of Hope for Kids, tax appeals for township attorney/assessor, utility capital connection fees for 2013, partial release of bond for Sparta Builders LLC, professional services resolution for an engineer and planning board committee, a resolution for adopting changes to an existing deferred compensation plan pursuant to the final internal revenue code and a resolution authorizing the issuance of not exceeding $7,297,350 bond anticipation notes of the Township of Sparta. Expenditures were also approved.


 All of the unfinished business on the agenda remains unfinished as it was not discussed, but the ability to advertise open positions on town committees for people to apply to was added to the agenda.

 In new business, the following were discussed: the DPW is working on the non-working lights on Main Street and Sparta Avenue; Mary Parker was nominated to the Senior Advisory Committee, Dawn Corbo was nominated to the Communications Committee and there were two nominations to the Recreation Committee; new scholarship opportunities will be sent to Pope John, Sparta High School and VoTech; Women in Municipal Government Day is on March 15,  and councilwoman Christine Quinn and deputy mayor Molly Whilesmith would like to hold a luncheon with women from other municipalities; an Read Across America is March 1, prompting a suggestion from Quinn that each council member read a book to a different class in the local schools. The council was very open to the idea will call superintendent Dennis Tobin to discuss the possibility.    

The next township council meeting will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 26  at 7:30 p.m.


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