Maplewood Township Committee Adopts $38.9 Million Municipal Budget; Reciprocal Pool Arrangement with South Orange Studied

New Maplewood Police Sgt. Niheema N. Gary takes her oath of office. Credits: Bob Faszczewski

MAPLEWOOD, NJ - A 2012 budget for municipal expenditures totaling $38,870,779.55 was adopted unanimously Tuesday by the township committee.

The municipal budget will result in a $67.46 increase in municipal taxes on the average Maplewood home, assessed at $421,665.

On another matter, two township parents, Lisa Fellen and Lori Sauer, asked the governing body to intervene with South Orange officials so that their families would have some type of reciprocal membership privileges in the South Orange community swimming pool.

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Fellen and Sauer said their children are among the few Maplewood students who attend the South Mountain School, whose student population is chiefly from South Orange, and the Maplewood children currently are unable to enjoy the company of their classmates at the South Orange pool.

The parents noted South Orange Village trustees have offered to increase the number of guest passes for their pool, but this means Maplewood families wishing to use that facility would have to arrange their schedules to coordinate with those of South Orange families to go as guests to the South Orange facility.

They also said that under the current guest policy, passes can be very expensive--possibly up to $1,000--per Maplewood family if they attended twice a week during the summer.

Fellen and Sauer think the two communities could work out a reciprocal arrangement whereby South Orange parents who have children in schools that primarily include Maplewood students could become members of the Maplewood municipal pool and the same privilege would be extended to Maplewood parents whose children attend schools with primarily South Orange student populations.

They pointed out that Clinton School's student population is primarily from Maplewood with only a few South Orange students.

South Orange Middle School and Columbia High School draw from throughout both communities.

At Tuesday's meeting, Committeeman Gerald Ryan suggested that families be offered the opportunity to have memberships in the pools in both communities.

Mayor Victor DeLuca, the Maplewood Township Committee liaison to the township pool advisory committee, said he would relay the parents' concerns to the advisory committee and follow up on information on the pool situation received this week from South Orange officials.

Also at Tuesday's session, Patrolman Niheema N. Gary was sworn in as the newest sergeant in the Maplewood Police Department.

The governing body also authorized $20,000 to fund a proposal by the Urban Design Lab at Columbia University to conduct a planning and research proposal for possible uses for the Maplewood Village post office site.

John James, president of the Maplewood Village Alliance, and Marvin Clawson, an architect in the township, praised the study as a way of bringing a more constructive framework to deciding the future of the site.

Deluca, Ryan and Committeewoman India Larrier added the study would provide guidance for potential developers of the site.

In two other redevelopment matters, the committee approved two agreements with Elite Properties--one for development of eight townhouses on a site within Redevelopment Area 2 near Burnett Avenue and the other for development of 124 units on the site of the former Universal Chain facility.

The mayor said Elite had agreed to provide affordable housing units in addition to market value units on the sites and to market its units through various township senior citizen groups so the units would be targeted to those 62 years of age and older.

He added Elite had promised to pay for $145,000 in improvements to the Dehart Community Center and possibly to add $100,000 for improvements to other community buildings in two or three years.

The governing body also adopted ordinances prohibiting the disposal of litter on township streets and amending the township employee salary ordinance to change pay scales to allow for salary increases.

Introduced on first reading and scheduled for public hearings on Tuesday, September 4, were ordinances regulating temporary signs for real estate agencies and other services and requiring the house numbers be at least four inches high to make them more visible to emergency service personnel.

A September 4 hearing also was scheduled for an ordinance regulating dumpsters in the Maplewood Village Special Improvement District after the measure was amended to permit less restrictive regulations for commercial establishments with trash compactors.

Instead of its usual Municipal Building meeting place the governing body on Tuesday met in the new Police and Courtroom Building at 1685 Springfield Avenue. That also will be the site of the September 4 session.


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