CLARK, NJ – It was right down to business as the Clark Township council tackled a number of resolutions and ordinances at its first business meeting of 2017 last week. 

Mayor Sal Bonaccorso asked the council to reject a bid received for grass collection and disposal due to a significant price increase. Although the bid had been put out twice, no acceptable bid was submitted, he said.

“It has gone up to $135,000 this year, it was at $90,000 last year,” Bonaccorso said. “John [Laezza] and I have had a meeting with the DPW and we are pretty sure that we will be collecting our own grass.”

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Bonaccorso said the Department of Public Works was “a great department” that could handle the additional work. The town’s investment in roll off dumpsters also makes the project manageable, he said.  Grass would no longer be collected in hard-sided garbage cans. The town is currently pricing biodegradable bags, he said.

“The bags will be able to be picked up with the claw like a leaf pickup and [they can] get through the town much more efficiently,” add Bonaccorso.

Bonaccorso warned residents that the township might not always be able to support the grass collection program due to ever-increasing costs.  He suggested residents consider mulching lawnmowers when replacing their equipment as it is more economical and environmentally friendly. 

The council voted unanimously to reject the bid.

The council approved the appointment of Business Administrator John Laezza as Acting Director of Public Works. The position has been vacant since the death of long-time director Joseph Bonaccorso in March, 2016. Laezza will oversee the department's business functions and not be directly involved in day-to-day operations, Bonaccorso said. 

Clark’s Volunteer Fire Department Association Chairman James Borden was again in attendance to voice his concerns over revisions to the Length of Service Awards Program (LOSAP) guidelines.  With the revisions in place, members would no longer receive points for attending monthly association meetings. Borden said that this could hurt retention and recruitment as these meeting include community event planning along with other important departmental reports and critiques (firematics). 

“As of December, our fire chief said that fire reports and any other firematic activities or topics will not going to be covered at this monthly meeting.  They will be covered at a separate firematic meeting,” said Borden.  “Coincidence the timing of LOSAP and that?  Probably not.” 

He added that these new meetings are also not included in the LOSAP guidelines. 

The revisions were later approved by the council. 

“Folks we went in depth over all the changes made on the original and new LOSAP, and after comparing all the items, we were in complete agreement with the new points system,” fire department liaison Councilman Al Barr said, referring to a meeting he attended with Councilman Pat O’Connor (Volunteer Emergency Squad liaison), Councilman Steve Hund (police department liaison), the fire chief, the deputy fire chief and Laezza. “As it happened, out of all the firefighters, that whether they qualified or not, only 2 qualified because they went to the association meetings.” 

He said for the remaining volunteers, whether they went to the meetings or not, it would not have made an impact on their points.

During the public comments portion of the meeting, Clark Police Department’s Lt. Antonio Manata came forward to express his thanks for the “outpouring of love” his family has received from the town and its residents over the last few weeks.  Manata’s home was destroyed by a fire in early December. 

“I’m not only very proud to work for this town, but I am also very proud to be a resident and be part of this community,” Manata said.  “There are not enough words … that I could express as a thank you for what everybody has done for me and my family.”

“With the help that we got we were able to give our kids somewhat of a normal Christmas,” he said.

“I’m glad you were able to see the love,” Bonaccorso said.  “Residents of Clark, thank you for all you do for everybody.”

“There is no place like home, and we are very grateful that the lieutenant and his family have decided to call Clark, NJ their home,” said Councilman Brian Toal.  “It’s good to hear good stories and good things that really represent Clark.”

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