Montclair Township Council Explores Supermarket Shuttle, Police Hiring, Park Cameras

Credits: Marissa Kluger
Credits: Marissa Kluger
MONTCLAIR, NJ - Two residents and several township personnel addressed the Montclair Council in the second-floor conference room on Tuesday. 
Issues presented to the council included the parking study, affordable housing, local hiring in the police department, installing cameras in parks and town pools, a web redesign, Property Pilot, Edgemont senior center, and options for providing transportation from Pathmark to another supermarket in light of its closure
Director of Health and Human Services Sue Portuese presented five transportation options. 
Portese said the first option would be to open the senior bus to all residents. A second option included using Essex County bus transport on Wednesdays or Fridays, by appointment only made two to 14 days in advance. The third, she said, would pick up a group of seniors or disabled residents from Pathmark to grocery shop at the Shoprite in Brookdale. 

Councilor Sean Spiller implored an option that included all residents, suggesting the health department observe peak times and days before offering the transportation. 
Portese added the township could use senior activities buses after 4 p.m. and on Saturdays, hire their drivers, and pay liability insurance. The final option would make use of the Montclair commuter shuttle bus during the day.
Resident Sandy Sorkin wanted to know why dog licenses cost $12 to 15 while licenses for cats were $6 to $9. 
He also inquired after the Upper Montclair parking lot in respect to the parking study, mentioning he had difficulties getting change from the pay stations. 
Sorkin implored the Council to include instructions on the machines, indicating the stations were not equipped to provide change. He added the town needed to communicate that cars did not need to display receipts on dashboards. 
“I watched some out-of-towners put in $3 and wait to get a receipt,” he said. 
Mayor Robert Jackson clarified the parking program is “more like a pilot not a study.” 
Later on in the evening, Parking Utility Project Administrator Tina Iordamlis said the pay stations would not offer change, however residents could stop in the parking utility office during business hours to recoup the money from the office’s “petty cash.”  
“The parking pilot would last for one year,” she added. 
The Council also asked Iordamlis about deck maintenance, new pay stations and contracting a valet service for the town at the Fullerton parking deck. 
She cited experience shadowing the parking authority in Hoboken, and how a town valet service “could work really well.”
Resident William Scott quoted the Valley and Bloom project developer who said they met the affordable housing needs by providing ten percent, or 25 units. He also read Jackson’s statement from an article where he said 25 units was a lot.
Scott implored the Council to “stop misrepresenting the inclusionary zoning ordinance.”
Jackson responded, “I’m simply saying that 25 affordable units is more than usual.”
Scott then reminded the council that 52 families were unable to move to Montclair with only ten percent set aside. He mentioned Princeton and Lyndhurst as townships meeting the twenty percent. 
The Council then heard from Police Chief David Sabagh in regards to the department’s ideal staffing levels of 109, with current employment at 106. He said increased overtime at the patrol level has plagued the department in the last couple of years. 
When asked by Jackson about hiring locally, Sabagh said a three tier system of exams, used years ago, for local, county, and state candidates could be a way to bring in officers residing in Montclair. The chief also sought to add three three-wheeled segways, costing $13,500 each, to the existing one used by the department. 
Director of Information Technology Tony Fan, along with the police chief and Pat Brechka, Director of Recreation and Cultural Affairs, explained the process for obtaining cameras for the town’s parks and pools including Edgemont, Nishuane, Essex, Canterbury, and Mountainside. 
Fan said there were no costs associated with the cameras for parks and pools just yet. 
The Council asked about cameras in the crescent deck. Fan added equipping it would cost $10,000 for three cameras, $25-28,000 for fiber optics, and take six to eight weeks to complete. 
All Resolutions placed before the Council were approved. 
Councilor Renee Baskerville voted against an amended resolution adjusting the term of George Librizzi’s appointment to the position of tax assessor. 
A resolution regarding the Traffic and Parking Advisory Committee adding two to three “public forums” a month in the evenings, pending the committee’s approval, triggered discussion among council members. 
The Council will hold its next meeting in council chambers on Oct. 16, 7 p.m., at 205 Claremont Avenue. 

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