BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Bridgewater Township’s quest for an official town historian will have to wait a little longer.
The Bridgewater Township Council voted Nov. 7 to table an historic preservation ordinance that would have established the office of a township historian, along with a local advisory committee. The final vote was 4-1 to table the measure.
The council entertained a similar ordinance last year, which was then vetoed by Mayor Dan Hayes. The council subsequently failed to override the veto.
Councilwoman Christine Henderson Rose, who has long championed historic preservation in Bridgewater, and who cast the lone dissenting vote on the new ordinance’s tabling, said the revised measure differs slightly from its predecessor.
“It creates a committee, with the mayor making appointments,” she said.
She added that the new ordinance would also give the committee the responsibility of creating the historian’s duties, along with fashioning a plan of action for the preservation of relics and historical items.
The new ordinance, according to Rose, would also codify historical preservation “as a part of government.” It would get its own line item in the annual municipal budget, she said, while also allowing historic preservation volunteers to keep working on matters such as the Lane-Voorhees House and Camp Cromwell.
“I don’t want that work lost,” said Rose.
Local author and historian Jessie Havens, who said she has worked on preserving history in Somerset County for many years, congratulated the council on trying to take action regarding Bridgewater’s history, which she said didn’t “officially exist.” She said the municipality had also done a “marvelous job” in remodeling Bridgewater’s town hall instead of demolishing it altogether in favor of a new structure.
With a town historian in place, she said, Bridgewater would also no longer have to rely solely on volunteers.
Another local resident said that Bridgewater had previously been geared toward preserving open space, which it had accomplished in large measure. He said that now it was time to work on preserving the town’s history, along the lines of the push for open space that had been made a quarter-century ago.
“Please do what you can with the ordinance,” he said.
Council vice president Howard Norgalis said he had supported the previous ordinance that had been vetoed by the mayor, and added that he wanted to put more into its successor. He added that he wants to see the committee issue a report every quarter or so, rather than an annual one.
Norgalis also said the committee should have staggered terms, as opposed to having nine members serving three-year terms apiece.
“I’d like to put more time into this,” said Norgalis, “and table it until the next meeting.”
Councilman Filipe Pedroso said he was also in favor of tabling the ordinance, which he called the council’s “second bite at the apple.” He said the most important thing to do is to make it clear what the historian does.