LIVINGSTON, NJ — Heading his first Township Council meeting as mayor, Al Anthony and the council greeted several local residents and volunteers on Monday who are hoping to get the ball rolling on projects that include new equipment for the Livingston Police Department, a new summer kickoff tradition in Livingston, and improvements to the Livingston High School baseball and softball fields.

In the process of reviewing the Capital Budget for 2016, Livingston Fire Chief Christopher Mullin presented pictures of the two current engines that may need to be replaced in order for the Livingston Fire Department (LFD) to successfully do its job. Although it would be a costly project, the department’s primary engine, which responds to all of the town’s alarms and which Mullin described as the “workhorse of the fleet,” is going to be 20 years old in 2016 and is showing signs of wear and tear. According to Mullin, the LFD’s heavy-rescue unit is also in need of an update.

Deputy Mayor Shawn Klein recommended extending the project to occur over the span of five or six years rather than the proposed three years, which Mullin said could be a possibility. Mullin also said that having reserve engines with the amount of volunteer firefighters in Livingston, the fire department would have the ability to send a unit and volunteers to help out neighboring towns and still have engines available in case of multiple calls.

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In other news, longtime Livingston volunteer Scott Maynard, who is known for heading one of Essex County’s most popular July 4 celebrations, came to the council with a proposal for brand new Livingston tradition called “Livingston Summerfest.”

After many years, Livingston’s Memorial Day Weekend celebration will no longer include the annual circus, which prompted a conversation between many of the organizations involved in Memorial Day to host a new tradition in its place. With a temporary date of Saturday, June 11, 2016, Livingston Summerfest would include a Food Truck Festival & Craft Marketplace in the Livingston High School parking lot, the annual Town Pool Open House and a Livingston Sunrise Rotary-sponsored Duck Race at Littell’s Pond.

“Since we’re losing an event, it would be nice to do a new event,” said Maynard. “It will be a nice, fun day and everyone that we’ve spoken to so far have been up on the project and very willing to help out.”

The idea to host a food truck festival began when Maynard and other volunteers attended a similar event in East Hanover that was fairly simple to organize, charged only $5 per person and attracted nearly 6500 people. Maynard said the “Food Truck Extravaganza,” which would be sponsored by the Livingston First Aid Squad and host approximately 25 food and crafters trucks, would nicely supplement the free open house at the Livingston Town Pool scheduled for the same day. The event would also give the Livingston Sunrise Rotary the opportunity to host the Rotary International Duck Race fundraiser that would add some entertainment to the day’s festivities.

According to Maynard, the current date does not compete with any events in neighboring towns. Maynard also met with Business Improvement District Executive Director Beth Lippman, who would reach out to local restaurants that may want to participate, as well as the Livingston Board of Education, which agreed to allow participants to eat inside the high school in the case of rain.

“It’s very safe, we just need to put two fire hoses forming a ‘V’ across the pond, number the ducks, put them in the water and blow them with a leaf blower and that’s it,” said Sunrise Rotary President Damien Caillault. “They come out one at a time and then we’ll have prizes. It’s been a success in every town that has done it.”

“I just want to say congratulations in advance,” said Klein. “I think this is going to become a great new Livingston tradition.”

Representing the Livingston High School Baseball Parents Association, Livingston resident Jon Fetner revisited two proposals from 2012 to expedite the process of improving the high school’s baseball and softball fields and alleviate some safety concerns.

“In our initial meeting this year, we talked about the issues that we were going to try to focus on and one of the major issues is the quality of the field,” said Fetner, who also proposed looking into dugouts in the future. “The Baseball Parents Association is going to be actively fundraising, but we really felt that the field is something that the town and the Board of Education should be involved in.”

Although the council said completing the project prior to the April 2016 season opener would be difficult, Meade said the Livingston Town Council, Livingston Board of Education, the Department of Public Works and the Baseball Parents Association are on the same mission to move the project forward as quickly as possible. Meade, who is meeting with the LBOE about funding on Wednesday, also said she has had many positive discussions with the interim superintendent on the subject. 

Weather permitting, Fetner said the project could be started as early as the end of February or beginning of March once the council examines the options and makes a decision.