NUTLEY, NJ - Public Safety Commissioner Alphonse Petracco, director of public safety introduced a new ordinance pertaining to the Nutley Volunteer Emergency and Rescue Squad during the Tuesday, Oct. 6 Board of Commissioners Public Meeting.
Ordinance No. 3459 will replace in its entirety the outdated Ordinance No. 60 adopted on Feb. 17, 1953, last updated with no changes in 1983, 37 years ago. Both ordinances state the BOC has the control to dissolve the squad at any time by adopting an ordinance to do so. During the July 21 BOC meeting Petracco introduced Ordinance 3449 to dissolve the Nutley Volunteer Emergency Rescue Squad. The BOC has since tabled that ordinance. Since then, NVERS president and CEO, Jonathan Arredondo was suspended for accusations of potentially mishandling funds. The ongoing investigation is in the hands of the Essex County prosecutor’s office.
If adopted, the updated ordinance places the public safety director, Petracco or his successor, in charge of approving all new members – paid, per diem, and/or volunteer. The director will also appoint three of the five board of trustees with the two seats remaining filled by the NVERS president and the squad’s chief/supervisor. With this new amendment, the director will preside as chairperson of the board. The public hearing will be held during the Nov. 5 BOC meeting.
“It has been a long road, a long summer for all of us but working together I think that there has been a lot of good work done,” said Petracco.
Petracco thanked the new president of NVERS, Tim Keating, a 44-year veteran of the squad, as well as all the members. Keating, a rescue officer, is an emergency medical technician who provides basic life support to the township. He also coordinates training activities and responses for the squad’s rescue technicians.
The commissioner said in a separate interview that he is very pleased to be working with Keating, Emil Pugliese, chief of emergency medical services; and Joseph DeSomma, treasurer. “With Tim Keating at the helm for president and Chief Pugliese it’s been a pleasure with those guys, they want to move forward and protect the integrity of the ambulance squad as well,” he said.
According to Petracco, a safeguard plan is necessary and needed with what allegedly happened should never have occurred in the first place. “It is very disheartening with what [Arredondo] allegedly did. I am very pleased to say we are working together but not only on today’s rescue squad but for the future as well. We are working on a vision of what the squad will look like 5 years out and 10 years out to give [members] a sense of security as well,” he said.
Residing in Nutley his entire life, Petracco said the township’s traditions are very important to him. “As commissioner of public safety, I appreciate the per diems that are there. I have the utmost respect for the volunteers and all the membership past and present. I really want to preserve what we have there,” he said.
Petracco acknowledged the former members who built the squad in 1953. “The forefathers of the squad provided a service, and they were all residents. We respect not only as a commissioner but also as a township what they did. They provided a service on donations they received from the residents. […] We hold close to our heart what their attention and wishes are for the town. It’s very important that the squad is here for many more years,” he said.
As commissioner, Petracco said it is his duty to keep Nutley and all of its residents safe. “When everyone is working for a common cause that’s when we do great work. The most important thing is we are here to make sure that we give the Nutley residents the best squad they have and the safety that goes along with that,” he said.
Tim White, spokesperson for NVERS released the following statement on behalf of Keating, "The NVERS membership, board of trustees and executive board are currently reviewing the ordinance as we continue to work in good faith with the commissioners to restructure the future working relationship between the squad and the township. Throughout this, NVERS continues to respond to the township's EMS and rescue needs.”
Since 2016, TAPintoNutley.net has been the only locally owned news organization serving the Township of Nutley, and is a member of the New Jersey Press Association. The Nutley Board of Commissioners first named TAPintoNutley.net the township's 'Official Electronic News Source' in 2019.