ROXBURY, NJ – By the time the commission studying the pros and cons of consolidating Roxbury and Mount Arlington finishes its work it will have tackled some big-time, historic issues. Any discussion about merging two sovereign municipalities is going to entail lofty debate, soul-searching analysis, deeply furrowed brows and countless hours of thoughtful chin scratching.  

However, at its inaugural session today, the panel had to deal with a myriad of little things: Who wants to work on creating by-laws? What about a mission statement? Can it accept free help from a lawyer? How will it keep its alternate members “engaged” if they can’t vote? Should it have a Post Office box? Should it have a website or, maybe just a free WordPress blog? Should it meet in Roxbury or Mount Arlington or both? 

All these start-up issues, and many more, will somehow eventually be resolved. Then, the 14-member commission will embark on more substantive and controversial topics relating to the benefits and drawbacks of melding the towns.

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For now, the commissioners seemed happy the panel is finally in place. After taking oaths of office, they chose Craig Heard of Roxbury as their chairman and Gene Paradiso of Mount Arlington as vice-chairman, and they set up some initial sub-committees.

One of the first orders of business will be to create new email addresses. It was stressed that all email communication about the commission will be done with the new addresses and not with personal email accounts.

During a point in the meeting where the commissioners were discussing whether their meetings should be captured on video or audio recordings, Heard said it would be wise to somehow keep a “permanent record” of the commission’s workings. “This is historic, not only for Roxbury and Mount Arlington, but for New Jersey,” he commented.

He also stressed the commission will do all it can to find grants or other sources of funding that do not involve tax dollars. “Our initial objective is to not have to go back to either town for money,” Heard said.

The next meeting will take place May 6 at 7 p.m. at the Roxbury Recreation Department on Eyland Avenue in Succasunna.