MILLBURN, NJ - When St. Rose of Lima’s Scoutmaster Kenneth Fineran passed away in August of 2016, it marked the end of an era for the Boy Scouts of Millburn, and in the eyes of many, the township as a whole.
Fineran, a veteran and Millburn resident of 45 years, brought leadership to Millburn’s youth with 84 boys achieving the rank of Eagle Scout during his tenure. On top of the multitude of awards and recognitions, the Millburn Township Committee awarded him the Community Service Award in recognition of his service to the scouts, the Millburn Fourth Of July Committee, and the Veterans Recognition Committee. Although his time with the troop ended in 2015, his scouts sought to pay homage to the man who served the community and was a role model for decades.
“Mr. Fineran was an inspiration not only to Eagle Scouts but to hundreds more Boy Scouts,” said Scoutmaster Daniel Cannon. “He’s an inspiration to many of the adult leaders here that served even after their sons went through the program.”
On Aug. 15, almost a year since the date of Fineran’s death, St. Rose of Lima’s Troop 17 made a formal presentation to the five members of the Township Committee, proposing that the new street in the Mack Cali development be named Scoutmaster Fineran Way. Members of the Committee were not immediately sold on the proposal, fearing the repercussions a street name that long may have in terms of records and navigation.
Instead, the committee developed a list of four finalists, including Scoutmaster Fineran Way, for the street name. Township Committee member and former Board of Education member Sam Levy thought it would be a beneficial civics lesson for the Millburn students to have a say in the decision.
Through “Miller Mail” and Superintendent Burton’s weekly updates, students K-12 had the opportunity to cast their vote for the street name. The survey read, “The Millburn Township Committee invites students in Millburn to select the name of two new roads that will be created during the construction of the new apartment complex and hotel near the Short Hills Mall.”
The survey, distributed on April 28, was supposed to include the four finalists and a free response section for write-ins. However, a miscommunication between Town Hall and the Education Center led to the creation of a flawed survey, with introductory language that was not written by the Township Committee. The four finalists were not represented.
“I do not know why the four Township Committee proposed names were excluded from the survey nor do I know how the survey’s introductory language was selected or how the survey was portrayed to certain students,” Levy wrote in an email to TAPinto.
Although the survey weakened the Scouts’ chances of seeing Scoutmaster Fineran Way on their GPS, they garnered 56 percent of the student vote.
The boys were disappointed though when the Committee explained to them that ultimately the survey was nothing more than a platform for the students to make their suggestions, contrary to language on the survey. They left the meeting feeling shortchanged for their efforts. One Boy Scout asked Mayor Cheryl Burstein “We are learning about the founding of America and representative governments and democracies. How would we learn about that, and seeing how this kind of failed, how can we know that our government continues to work the way it does?”
As a whole, Cannon and Troop 17 is looking for answers after what they believe to be a democratic failure. Mayor Cheryl Burstein met with Troop 17 on Oct. 26 to discuss the miscommunication.
“You basically told these kids to buzz off. Might as well call if buzz off way” Cannon said. “These kids thought as if their voices should have been heard. It was quite disappointing. I think the Township failed not only the Scouts, the students, I think you guys failed the entire community as a whole.”
A final decision and vote on the street name is expected at an upcoming Township Committee meeting.