CHATHAM BOROUGH, NJ - A $13,628,582 2011 budget in support of municipal services yielding a tax bite of $85 more on the average borough home—assessed at $658,000—was adopted Monday by the Chatham Borough Council.
Although borough taxpayers will see an additional line item for support of the joint public library operated by Chatham Borough and Chatham Township on this year’s tax bill, this item does not mean a separate tax is being added in support of the library.
Prior to this year, tax bills in New Jersey contained charges for schools, counties and municipal budget. However, due to legislation passed on March 21 by the legislature, the municipal expenditure in support of public libraries must now be delineated separately on property tax bills.
Chatham Borough’s share of the tax in support of the public library, which it runs jointly with Chatham Township, this year amounts to $757,825.24. This produces a library tax rate of .037.
In addition, the revised budget includes $17,000 to cover interest because the borough is delaying its renewal of bond anticipation notes from June 1 to August 15 of this year.
The change enables the borough to avoid adding $200,000 to this year’s budget.
In addition, the borough has received a $50,000 contribution from the township towards the purchase of emergency communications equipment both municipalities will utilize.
This contribution is shown both as an addition to appropriations and as revenue.
In another finance-related move, the council adopted an ordinance that will transfer $500,000 previously allocated for capital improvements to Shepard Kollock Park and other recreation areas to be used for improvements to Memorial Park and the municipal pool.
Borough officials last year had considered closing the pool due to lack of membership and the possible cost of bringing the facility up to the standard they felt was necessary to sustain viable membership numbers.
However, in a public referendum held last November, Chatham Borough residents voted to improve the pool even if renovations would mean the increased use of tax dollars.
Renovations outlined by Borough Engineer Vincent DeNave at the council’s previous meeting were the result of recommendations by the borough’s Pool Advisory Committee.
The engineer said the main pool will be resurfaced with a rubber lining, cracks and leaking pipes will be repaired and pumps and filters will be brought up to standard. Also, decking around the pool will be replaced where needed and expanded.
Kiddie pool dimensions will increase from the current 17 by 28 feet to about 20 by 40 feet, he added, and water features such as a “raindrop” and “bubble feature” will be installed.
There have been a number of complaints about the area of the kiddie pool dropping down about 4.5 feet from the area of the main pool, the engineer said, and the renovations will bring a uniform deck area where all the pools can be viewed from one level.
To address privacy concerns, DeNave noted, tighter weave fencing will be installed around the pool and, in the area between the pool and the public library, there will be a landscape buffer as well as increased screening on the fencing.
The current small seating area near one of the ballfields will be removed and a picnic area separated from the pool area by a fence will be created. It is possible a shelter can be erected in that area to shield pool patrons from the sun, the engineer added.
A local painting firm, Monk’s Painting, will donate its services to paint the pool building and the borough’s Department of Public Works will expand the lifeguard building located next to the pool building.
In Memorial Park, the two current girls’ softball fields are directly adjacent to each other, making it impossible to have two games played simultaneously, DeNave said.
Plans call for separation of the two fields by a new grassy area that will be used as a multipurpose field for a number of sports.
This will be chiefly on the northern end of the property closest to Passaic Avenue, with landscaping around the perimeter of the fields.
Current parking areas in that section are used for the library and shared with a church parking lot.
DeNave’s plans call for the creation of 13 additional parking spaces along a roadway running parallel to North Passaic Avenue with a sidewalk to separate that area from the avenue.
He added fencing probably will be added between the ballfields and the parking area to prevent foul balls from hitting cars parked in the area.
Additional parking may also be available in the Center Street East lot to provide greater access to the pool area, he noted.
If the borough sees the need for even more parking later, the engineer said, the church parking lot area could be expanded with five additional spaces closest to the current field area and four additional spaces in the second row of the lot.
Also, Council President James Lonergan said at the previous meeting that improvements to the basketball courts are envisioned with some possible monetary assistance from the Chatham Athletic Foundation.
At Monday’s meeting, Lonergan noted the borough is almost ready to take bids on the pool improvements and work will begin around Labor Day.
The usage of Memorial Park fields after their renovation will not resume until around the fall of 2012, in order to give the new grass a chance to grow, he added.
On Shunpike Field, shared jointly by Chatham Borough and Chatham Township, but located in the township, children should be able to make use of the new turf field by May 15 of this year, the council president noted.
He said that project should be completed by the end of May.
In a related measure, the council introduced an ordinance authorizing $112,000—the borough’s share of the cost of installing new lighting on Shunpike Field.
Lonergan pointed out that the township will pay $112,000 of the $600,000 bill for the project, $175,000 will come from the Recreation Trust Fund and the Chatham Athletic Foundation will pay the remainder of the costs.
The public hearing and possible final adoption of the ordinance are scheduled for Monday, May 9.
On another matter, the council on Monday adopted an ordinance prohibiting drive-through restaurants anywhere in the borough and limiting businesses providing business services, retail trade and/or retail services in the B-3 general business district to 2,500 square feet on a tax lot of less than 1.5 acres, while limiting the location of such services to the first floor.
The council also authorized a Green Fair to be held from 9am to 2pm on Saturday, September 24, at Reasoner Park and Firehouse Plaza from Fairmount Avenue to the driveway of the North Railroad Station Parking Lot.
Council Member Leonard Resto explained the purpose of the fair was to promote eco-friendly products and solutions aimed at preserving the environment.
He added the organizations sponsoring the event also expect to have a program during the fair that will enable residents to bring important papers that they no longer need for shredding.
Council Member Bruce Harris also announced the borough would like residents to contribute photographs Chatham can use to enhance its newly-renovated website.
Monday’s meeting also saw the swearing in of newly-appointed borough firefighter, Timothy R. Caggiano, and Andrew J. Hollander, who was named to the Library Board of Trustees.