LITTLE FALLS, NJ - At the April 3 Little Falls Township Council workshop meeting, Councilwoman Maria Cordonnier said that traffic and safety issues have arisen in the town due to varied speed limits and a proposal for making the entire town 25 miles and hour is being considered.
"We realize that on roads to Main Street either way, it was like a ball of confusion," said Cordonnier, who also chairs the transportation committee. "We had Chief Steven Post with us at a very lengthy transportation committee meeting and he gave us a lot of input and we determined that what we need to do is make the whole town 25 miles per hour."
According to Cordonnier, a number of complaints from township residents is that they were unable to cross Main Street and being unable to make turns on it.
"I did speak to the local and high school superintendents and the best thing to do is use flashing signs warning that children are present when school is open and you're suppose to go anywhere from 15 to 20 miles per hour."
Mayor James Damiano issued several proclamations during the recent Little Falls Township Council workshop meeting held on April 3.
Damiano asked several local families in attendance who have been touched by autism to stand with him as he issued a proclamation, declaring April as Autism Awareness Month in Little Falls.
"As more health professionals become proficient in diagnosing autism, more children are being diagnosed on the autism spectrum," Damiano said. "And whereas there is no cure for autism, it's documented that early intervention for autism and throughout their lives, they may significantly improve."
Damiano also highlighted Autism New Jersey, a statewide network of parents and professionals dedicated to improving the lives of individuals with autism spectrum disorders, which is spearheading events in order to educate parents, professionals and the general public about autism and its effects.
"I encourage residents to participate in any national Autism Awareness Month activities to become better educated about autism and to become a better community for individuals with autism," he added. "I placed a blue light in my office that will remain lit throughout the entire month of April."
Damiano also read a proclamation for Arbor Day, which commemorated its first observance in Nebraska in 1872 with the planting of a million trees.
"It is now celebrated throughout the nation and the world," he said, noting that trees can reduce topsoil erosion, clean the air, producing oxygen, and provide habitat for wildlife.
Damiano added that trees are a renewable resource giving paper, fuel for fires and countless other wood products. He then officially declared April 28, 2017 as Arbor Day in the township.
"Trees in our city increase property values, enhance economic vitality of the business area and beautify our community. Wherever they are planted, they are a source of joy," he added. "I urge all citizens to plant trees and promote the well being for this and for future generations."
During the public comment portion of the meeting, local resident Louis Fernandez raised questions about council transparency while asking for more details about ordinances, resolutions and other agenda items under consideration.
Charles Cuccia, business administrator, responded to series of ordinances that Fernandez inquired about, that were being introduced during the evening. Some of the bond ordinances entailed $300,000 for the road improvement program, $375,000 for new additional or replacement equipment and machinery, and $50,000 stemming for the police department for acquisition of certain training.
Local resident Arnie Korotkin also commented by suggesting that the council could address this by including hyper-links as part of its agenda. He also suggested that once the minutes were approved, there should be similar links on the town's website.
"The implementation of this procedure would enhance council transparency and would enable residents to be informed about council business prior to the scheduled meetings," Korotkin noted. "Thus allowing residents, who wish to attend and comment during council meetings, adequate time to prepare to prepare to make public comments."
Korotkin also suggested that hyper-links to council documents be included as part of its approved minutes, which are posted on the town's website.
Fernandez also inquired about the loss of flood mitigated homes and the impact to the taxpayer. Damiano replied by stating the municipality had previously lost 80 properties and the number of homes that are potentially going to be acquired is 59.
"The doesn't mean 59 properties are going to be raised," said Damiano, adding that there are a number of stringent requirements that the property would have to meet in order to be raised.
Damiano also added that the township and local school district tax portion would have to bear the burden but that the county portion would decrease based on those portions. He also added that the township would look into redevelopment opportunities to recoup some of those funds that are being lost in those acquisitions, particularly in the Singac section of the town.
Phil Simone, DPW superintendent, said that the township's solid waste contract is expiring this year and the town needs to go out for bids. The issue is the fifth Wednesday that occurs roughly four times a year.
"In our schedules, we have the first and third Wednesday being cardboard pick-up and the second and fourth Wednesday being commingled," Simone explained. "We have a lot of people discuss this and just this past week which was a fifth Wednesday there was a lot of cardboard out there. People thought that they could put their cardboard out. I sent the trucks out and it took us probably three hours to do the town."
Simone proposed to the council that by next year, instead of having that fifth Wednesday, that town would conduct a pick-up session - one week cardboard and one week commingled. "I think it's better than having stuff sitting on the road. If we want to do a contract this would be a time to contract.
Council members agreed to consider the option and would be further discussed at the next meeting.