Mayor Harris Votes to Break Tie on Chatham Borough Council Resolution to Repaint Traffic Box

Chatham artist and crossing guard Jennifer DuTeil will have her unfinished painting at the corner of Watchung and Fairmount avenues restored to its original grey color Credits: TAP Chatham

CHATHAM, NJ - Chatham Borough Mayor Bruce Harris broke a rare 3-3 tie at the Borough of Chatham Council meeting on Monday night, approving a resolution that calls for painting the traffic box at the corner of Fairmount and Watchung avenues back to its original grey color.

But the deciding vote did not end the discussion on the project put forth by the Public Arts Council of Chatham Borough.

"We left it open for further discussion down the road," Jim Lonergan, council member said.

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At the April 24 meeting of the Borough Council, Michael Pitonyak, owner of the home at the corner of Fairmount and Watchung avenues had expressed his objections to the painted box, which sits on the edge of his property. Although the Public Arts Council had received permission from both the county and the borough council for the turn "Grey to Green" project, it had not notified Pitonyak beforehand.

Chatham residents came before the council on Monday night to express support for the painted traffic box, which included a frog wearing an "Uncle Sam" hat and a depiction of the gazebo at Reasoner Park. The acrylic painting was left unfinished and will now be painted back to grey with the passage of the resolution.

At the April 24 meeting, Jennifer Kaplan of the Pubic Arts Council had said: "We respect (Pitonyak's) opinion. My only concern is the precedent this sets."

Voting for the resolution to return the traffic electrical box back to grey were council members Lonergan, Vicki Fife and Peter Hoffman. Voting against were Len Resto, Jim Collander and Gerald Helfrich.

The resolution reads: WHEREAS, upon further information and discussion by the Mayor and Council at its meeting held on April 24, 2017, it was concluded that the traffic control box located at the intersection of Watchung Avenue and Fairmount Avenue should be removed from the PAC “Green Takes Back Grey Project” and restored to its original condition.

BE IT RESOLVED, by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Chatham that the traffic control box located at the intersection of Watchung Avenue and Fairmount Avenue be removed from the PAC “Green Takes Back Grey Project” and restored to its original condition by the Department of Public Works; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that all Borough officials are hereby authorized and directed to take all action necessary and appropriate to effectuate the terms of this Resolution.

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