RED BANK, NJ: The council discussed last night numerous issues including the Broad Street upgrade plan and extending outdoor dining until November 30.
The release of confidential emails was brought up by councilman Michael Ballard receiving no comments or action by the council.
The borough received a $290k grant from the DOT to repave Broad Street and has an application in for a low-interest load for a sanitary sewer project. “We reviewed all various considerations to see if it needs additional work. While redoing the road we would open up and make improvements on the sanitary sewer water infrastructure,” said Administrator Ziad Shehady.
Mayor Pat Menna asked, “We’ve been doing extraordinary work downtown and I support it. How much are we going to add on to our bonding allocation? I’m sure the current (finance chairman) is going to be expressing a serious concern on our bonding capacity and what we’ve been doing for the past couple of years. I think we need a fiscal analysis before we start spending a lot of money.”
“Mayor, we already did that,” said Shehady, who explained that (the project) was part of a earlier approved bond allocation, that was done prior to or application for the DOT grant.
According to borough engineer Laura Neumann, the total Broad Street project is estimated to cost $820k. “But that doesn’t include the sewer?” asked Menna.
Shehady said, “… that is correct, but would come out of the water utility and be paid through low interest loans from New Jersey’s iBank.” “But it’s still going to be paid for by the taxpayers one way or another whether it comes from the water utilities or real estate taxes,” said Menna.
“Over a year ago we approved the money for this plan. It would be nice to see the financing and the project closer together in our meetings,” said Ballard.
Borough Engineer Laura Neumann presented engineering renderings of the plan focusing on curb “bump outs” at various crosswalks on Broad Street and retractable hydraulic bollards. A bollard is a short sturdy post that when retracted, is flush with the roadway and provides free movement of pedestrians and vehicle traffic. When raised they effectively secure an entry point.
TAPinto Red Bank requested the Broad Street project pdf presentation but the emails went unanswered.
Councilman Michael Ballard spoke about the investigation of leaked emails regarding the bid process for a new trash pick-up contract. Ballard asked borough attorney Greg Cannon, “The borough’s attorneys’ confidential emails were exposed to the media by anonymous. And it doesn’t look like the council is ready to move forward with looking into that. Can we still assert that an attorney-client privilege if an OPRA requests our attorney’s emails?”
“In general, yes. As to those particular emails, they’ve been disclosed to a third party, so the privilege is broken," said Cannon.
On the public comments section, Red Bank resident Suzanne Viscomi asked about the confidential emails saying, “Couldn’t councilman Ballard (make a motion) and somebody second it to get a vote to put you all on record to say who doesn’t want to do any research or digging to find out what truly happened, or, who just wants to push it down the road and hope that we forget it?”
“I’m all for putting the investigation back on the workshop agenda. Unless somebody wants to come clean and admit what happened, then we can move on,” responded Ballard.
The first reading for a Community Energy Aggregation (CEA) Program ordinance was approved with an added amendment to, … “create an option for 100% regionally sourced renewables.”
Last year the borough created the CEA Program and is the lead partner in a coalition of Monmouth County municipalities to pool their purchasing and negotiating power for better energy pricing.
This amendment authorizes that, “Request for proposals for electricity generating services must state that no contract will be awarded unless it has an option for customers to opt up to 100% renewable electricity…”
“This (program) puts us once again in the opening phases of hopefully of other municipalities following,” said Mayor Menna.
To gain a better understanding of the Community Energy Aggregation program, click HERE to see a PowerPoint presentation given by Concord Energy Services
Over $795,000 in bills were approved by resolution. To see a detailed list of these expenses, click HERE.
Mayor Pat Menna read a proclamation recognizing Red Bank Regional High School student Taylor Crystian on signing with Fairleigh Dickinson University’s girls’ basketball team.
Crystian received a full scholarship and was recognized as the first female basket player from Red Bank to sign as a Division I team athlete in 19 years. In the “Lady Bucs” last season, they won 21 games where Crystian scored 369 points for a career total of 941 leading them to a B-North public championship.
To read the proclamation, click HERE.
A discussion on two upcoming concerts in Riverside Gardens Park was, “Requested by the Red Bank RiverCenter to be pulled from the agenda due to change in operations, they may not be holding these events,” said Business Administrator Shehady. Editors Note: The RiverCenter via their website, canceled the concerts.
The council adjourned to executive session to discuss personnel issues regarding 2020 leave policy.
To read the agenda, click HERE.
To watch the video of the meeting, click HERE.
The next Workshop meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, October 7
The next council meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, October 14
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