Millburn Township Officials Hear Public Safety and Communication Concerns

Alexander Marchena, center, is sworn in as a new police officer by Township Clerk Christine Gatti, left, as his wife, Anastasia, holds the Bible. Credits: Patricia Harris

MILLBURN, NJ - Public safety and communication were on the minds of residents who came to speak with members of the Millburn Township Committee Tuesday night.

Four members of the public came forth during discussion time at the meeting, which had been rescheduled from last week due to inclement weather.

Tom Hildner, president of the Short Hills Association, opened the discussion on safety by asking if there is an issue with access for ambulances at The Mall at Short Hills. His question comes in the wake of the death of a 30-year-old man who was shot last month during a carjacking in a parking garage. Concerns have been raised about the response time.

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Mayor Robert Tillotson said public safety officials are reviewing responders’ ability to get a stretcher out of the mall. He noted current ambulances would be too tall to drive into the parking lots if outfitted with life-saving equipment, and he doesn’t foresee the township purchasing new ambulances.

When Hildner asked if officials intend to increase police presence at the mall, Township Administrator Timothy Gordon replied local police were there, “just not in the right place.” He noted there were four patrol cars, men on foot and increased security guards for the holiday season on hand when the incident took place.

Police chiefs of Millburn and Livingston have been meeting with the county prosecutor’s office to get additional support, Gordon added.

With regard to placing cameras in parking garages, Tillotson said, “There’s an ongoing dialogue with the mall.” He explained cameras that record license plates might be useful in tracking movements of cars entering and exiting the premises.

When Hildner asked about the possibility of placing cameras at intersections throughout the township, Gordon said they are expensive and might lead to abuses on the part of law enforcement.

Later in the discussion period, resident Milton Resnick brought up the subject of surveillance cameras again when he asked if the committee has considered putting them in the township’s parking lots. He said his son’s car recently had been stolen from the Chatham Road parking lot by the Short Hills train station.

Tillotson responded cameras are in the new parking deck in the downtown. As for other places, he again cited the cost, but said, “We’re re-reviewing the issue.”

“Cameras aren’t going to prevent cars from being stolen,” Gordon pointed out. “They might help in recovery.”

Resident Ken Ettinger broached the topic of communication when he addressed the committee. He said he was piggybacking on a report by Tillotson that he had met with JCP&L officials regarding their communications with customers during power outages and they had promised to do a better job.

Ettinger noted the township was not able to conduct garbage pickup on two days because of snowstorms and indicated he understood the delay. Nevertheless, he said, when he called Town Hall he was told to check the Web site. He wondered why e-mail notices could not be sent.

That prompted committee member Theodore Bourke to ask Ettinger if he had downloaded the township’s app on his smart phone. Bourke wondered aloud if the township should be promoting this method of communication.

On a second issue, Ettinger urged township officials to clearly mark sites where construction is taking place so motorists will know to seek other routes. He was referring to the recent closing of Glen Avenue, which the county will again close Feb. 17 for reconstruction of the bridge. Construction is expected to last six months.

Resident Roger Berg told the committee he has his doctor’s office at the corner of Main and Taylor streets. He said he finds it difficult to pull out onto Main Street because double-parked delivery trucks obstruct his view. He asked the committee to encourage the trucks to park along Taylor Street.   

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