SUMMIT, NJ - A monument honoring two Summit residents who were each awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for their heroism and bravery in World War I was approved by the Summit Common Council at its October 16 meeting, which also saw the swearing in of a new Summit Police officer and the introduction of a number of resolutions from the Buildings and Grounds Committee.
Ward 2 Council Member Marjorie Fox introduced the resolution, which allows American Legion Lindsey-Street Post #322 to erect a monument commemorating the two World War I soldiers from Summit who received the Congressional Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for valor.
The Congressional Medal of Honor is awarded by Congress to a member of the armed forces for gallantry and bravery in combat at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty. The Medal of Honor.was awarded to Sergeant Alan Eggers and Corporal Thomas O’Shea from Summit and Sergeant John Latham of Rutherford, NJ, for their action during the Battle of San Quentin Canal on September 29, 1918.
The monument will be erected in the memorial section of the Summit Village Green. It will be funded through public, tax-deductible contributions. The monument is a project of Summit’s American Legion Post. Contributions will be used to fund the Medal of Honor monument -- estimated to cost $6,900 -- and to maintain other veteran monuments in Summit. The Other Fellow First Foundation has already pledged to match donations up to $3,500. Contributions can be sent to The American Legion Post #322, P.O. Box 757, Summit, NJ 07901-0757.
Police Officer Sworn In
Mayor Nora Radest swore in Collin Scarpello as the City’s newest police officer. Scarpello is a graduate of Madison High School and Rutgers University, with a 2017 bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Management. He is currently pursuing a Master of Science degree in Homeland Security at Fairleigh Dickinson University. He received his Firefighter 1 certification while serving as a volunteer firefighter in Madison. Scarpello graduated from the Mercer County Basic Police Training Course this year, scoring 100% in all firearms qualifications. His parents and brother were in attendance, with his father held the Bible for the swearing-in.
Fox introduced a Buildings and Grounds resolution to submit a grant application for the New Jersey Department of Transportation Byways Program. It asks for $350,000 to improve Phase One of the Summit Park Line, running between Broad Street and Morris Avenue. “This section is already in use by the public, so the purpose is to make it more attractive,” said Fox. The grant, requiring no matching funds, would be used for permeable paving, bike lanes and striping, signage, landscaping, and fencing.
Matt Gould, Ward 1 council member, expressed his surprise that Summit was applying for grants before the public meeting on the Park Line was held. DPW Director Paul Cascais noted that we applied unsuccessfully for a similar grant last year and that these “very competitive” grants are only awarded on an annual basis. He explained, “It would be awarded several months from now … we are looking to have a public meeting in the next month,” so any award would occur after that meeting, and if the city chose not to move forward, it could always decline the grant.
Mike McTernan, Ward 1 council member, emphasized that Phase One is “up and running,” and this grant is available to beautify it. Fox added that “to leave it the way it is, doesn’t benefit the community.”
Mary Jo Micucci-DeFonzo, 12 Washington Avenue, suggested that the Council was overlooking the public opposition that has been voiced since the Park Line was first proposed. Council Member at Large Beth Little responded that she understood the public’s varied viewpoints, which is why she wanted to ensure Summit retained the option of declining the grant. Micucci-DeFonzo also questioned McTernan’s impartiality as a Park Line Board Member; he replied that he has never been reticent about his support for the project, but he understands that the public may not share his enthusiasm. Council President David Naidu stepped in several times to ensure a civil discussion. The resolution passed, with Gould voting “no” to avoid the appearance of presenting the Park Line as a fait accompli.
The third Buildings and Grounds resolution authorizes a $5,000, no-match grant application to the Investors Foundation to fund the Hometown Heroes banner program for 2019. The banners, hung downtown from Memorial Day to July 4, depict Summit residents and employees who are veterans of active-duty military personnel. Council previously authorized adding another 50 banners featuring an additional 100 participants.
American Legion member William Rapp, 31 Dale Drive, thanked Council for its approval of the expansion, but suggested the banners be displayed longer, even until Veterans Day. Fox cited the phenomenon of people starting to take them for granted as well as the additional wear and tear on the banners and the associated costs. Naidu recommended that this be discussed in depth by the existing Hometown Heroes committee. Both of these resolutions passed.
A single ordinance was introduced at this meeting. Ward 1 Council Member Mike McTernan proposed reorganizing the Common Council committees. There are currently six committees – Law, Buildings and Grounds, Finance and Personnel, Safety, Public Works, and General Services -- with two Council Members assigned to each. The committees review and evaluate proposals from City departments before they are addressed by the full council. The new committees would be Capital Projects / Community Services, Safety and Health, Finance (without personnel responsibilities), Law and Labor, Community Programs and Parking Services, and Administrative Policy and Community Relations. The reorganization, if approved, would be effective for 2019, after volunteer responsibilities are realigned as well. McTernan described the change’s goals as “evening out” the responsibilities of the Council Members and better alignment with the various City departments. This ordinance will be heard on November 17.
Among the other resolutions voted on, McTernan introduced a Law resolution to extend the footprint of the Summit House’s liquor license. The Springfield Avenue restaurant plans to expand into the space vacated by Rosalita Mexican and a small storefront at 10 and 18 Maple Street.
Under Finance and Personnel, Council Member at Large Beth Little proposed authorizing the state contract purchase of a new digital phone system, not to exceed $100,000, although she reported the current bid is closer to $75,000. It will replace the system serving all City buildings and be compatible with the Fire Department and dispatch systems. It has been included in the 2017 and 2018 capital budgets.
Ward 2 Council Member Stephen Bowman presented four Works resolutions. The first essentially corrects the resolution passed on September 17 authorizing a New Jersey Department of Transportation grant for the Summit Safe Streets to Transit project, because NJDOT requires that the resolution includes the application’s identification number. A second authorizes a contract extension with GovDeals, Inc., through March 31, 2019, for online auction services to sell used city vehicles and equipment. A third authorizes the state contract purchase of a 2019 Mason dump truck with a snow plow package, in the amount of $63,345.00. This will replace a 2008 truck currently needing about $15,000 in repairs. Cascais explained that the price of the vehicle and all options are negotiated at the state level, and that the retail price of a truck equipped like this would be closer to $76,000. The final resolution authorizes an agreement with Union County, which will install a traffic light next year on River Road at the corner of Chatham Road. Summit will be responsible for the ongoing maintenance of the light. It should help traffic turning onto River Road move more smoothly.
All these resolutions passed.