SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- With the absence of the personal and political animosity that plagued the Scotch Plains Town Council in 2014, Tuesday's meeting moved at a much brisker pace than residents have seen in some time. The Council recognized Michael Gentile, an Eagle Scout, with a proclamation announcing his achievement, honored Martin Luther King Day of Service co-chairs Michelle Abraham, Amanda Barnett, and Courtney Agnello for their volunteer efforts, and celebrated Nick Del Negro's 50 years as a tailor in in town.
The does not mean the meeting was devoid of fireworks.
During the public comments section of the meeting, local Republican chairman Alexander Smith expressed that he had read through the other resumes submitted for the Township Manager position and questioned how Mr. Mirabella, would be able to be at both places at same time.
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"I would prefer to see Al concentrate on Scotch Plains full-time," Smith said. "Maybe he can move away from business as usual. There is enough (to do here in Scotch Plains) without him running to Freeholder meetings."
"We looked at many resumes, and I'm convinced we have the right man," said Mayor Kevin Glover. "He is eminently qualified, and it has been a pleasure to have access and exchange of ideas. The unanimous vote is one that I'm proud to be part of."
Meanwhile, the Council approved the contract that will pay Mirabella $145,000 per year as Township Manager. Llewellyn Jones, the lone Republican on the governing body, abstained because he wasn't provided a copy of the contract until shortly before the meeting. The remaining four Council members voted in favor.
"There were parts of it I needed to review and further understand before coming to a determination on whether to vote for or against," Jones told TAP into SPF.
Jerry Nielson, a Scotch Plains resident whose wife broke three ribs stumbled on the step leading down from the Park Avenue exit on October 25, 2014, called for better signage and asked for an apology from Mayor Glover for not returning his letter. Glover placed the blame on former Township Manager Jerry Giaimis, whom he said he had tasked with handling the issue. Another resident asked the Mayor and Council to look into a growing rat problem near Westfield Avenue. He and Mr. Mirabella promised to investigate the problem.
Local Republican leader Alexander Smith questioned why there was a "secret ballot" vote at the first Zoning Board of Adjustment (BOA) meeting of the year at which Anthony Gialanella was named chairman. The BOA is now comprised by Gialanella, Chris Abeel, Ken Anderson, Guy Checchio, Rich Fortunato, Dan Sullivan, Chris Thompson, Edward Minall (alternate #1) and Jim Checchio (alternate #2). Checchio and Minall replace long-time members Rich Duthie and Brian Doyle, who were not re-appointed. Vincent Loughlin, Esq. remains the Zoning Board Attorney.
On a lighter note, Councilman Llewellyn Jones brought along his friend, Shabbat Bear, to attend the meeting. Each week, Shabbat Bear goes home with a different student to spend time with and learn about each family. The family takes pictures and records in a journal the adventures Shabbat Bear has each week, and the stories are shared with students at the JCC before her next trip begins. It is a way to show children how different families live, what they do for fun, and their different traditions.
Here is the video link for the Township Council Meeting of January 20, 2015: