SUMMIT, NJ - Michael Rogers, who has been the town administrator in Morristown for the last nine years, has been approved by the Summit Common Council to take the reins of the Hilltop City’s administration department, effective Sept. 8.
Rogers will replace Christopher Cotter, who retired effective June 30, and has been in the Morristown post for nearly a decade, according to Summit council finance and personnel chairman Michael McTernan.
McTernan added that Rogers, who was selected from among a number of candidates interviewed for the Summit post, has a strong financial background and is familiar with parking concerns because Morristown has operated its own parking facilities for a number of years.
The new administrator has a masters degree in public administration and a bachelor of science degree from the Arizona State University. He also attended law school.
The appointment of Rogers is contingent upon the revision of an ordinance requiring the City Administrator to reside in Summit.
In other news at the council session, Council President Robert Rubino Jr. announced that city solicitor Thomas Scrivo has been named chief counsel to Governor Chris Christie.
The Summit governing body named Robert L. Ghelli as Scrivo’s replacement. Ghelli, who has acted as solicitor at a number of council meetings when Scrivo was not able to attend, received his bachelor of arts degree from the University of Florida in 1992, and his juris doctorate from Rutgers University in 1995, where he was co-chair of the Rutgers Moot Court Board.
Following law school, Ghelli served as a judicial law clerk to Superior Court Judge Peter J. Vasquez. He is admitted to the bars of New Jersey, United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
Prior to joining McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney and Carpenter, the same firm at which Scrivo practiced, Ghelli was associated with a small general practice law office where he represented clients in civil, administrative, and workers’ compensation actions.
He became certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey, Board on Attorney Certification as a certified workers compensation law attorney.
In another appointment activity, the council approved the appointment of long-time city public works director Paul Cascais as director of community services.
Cascais replaces Beth Kinney, who recently retired from the community services post, has served in a number of positions with the Summit Department of Community Services for the past 35 years, beginning as a laborer in the sewer unit in 1981, and eventually serving as Superintendent of Public Works since 1999. He has played a key role in the execution of City programs related to infrastructure development and maintenance, and has established city-wide recycling and compost programs.
Speaking of Rogers and Cascais, Summit Mayor Ellen Dickson said, “I am extremely pleased with these two appointments." She added, “It is an important next step in the creation of a leadership team to improve and enhance Summit City government. Our community will benefit from the knowledge and experience that both Michael Rogers and Paul Cascais bring to these positions.”
The governing body also named Cascais, Police Chief Robert Weck, and community programs director Judith Leblein Josephs to a transition team to handle the administration department duties until Rogers takes over in September.
In another action at the meeting, the Council approved the application of the Reeves-Reed Arboretum for a Union County Historic Preservation Trust Fund Grant to convert a garage and work area into a visitors center.
Arboretum executive director Frank Juliano said the site has more than 70,000 visitors per year, with a one-day total of 430 on a single day this past year. Currently, he said, when visitors enter the parking lot they either do not know where to go or they interrupt classes in the arboretum’s education center.
Juliano added that Bank of America is expected to approve matching funds for the project, but if this approval is not forthcoming the facility’s board of trustees will provide the matching funds.
The Council also authorized professional services agreements for design of the new bleachers and press box at Investors Field, and new tennis courts at Tatlock Field.
The councilmen noted that the bleachers are being replaced to conform to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Council general services chairman Patrick Hurley added that the Summit Tennis Association will donate $100,000 toward the final construction cost of the Tatlock tennis courts.
In another action, the introduction of an ordinance to limit parking on Evergreen Road, West of Madison Avenue to the end of the road, to two hours during the school day, drew questions from members of the Summit High School Parent Teacher Organization Ad Hoc Traffic and Safety Task force.
In response to concerns raised by residents of streets surrounding the high school about students parking on their streets and blocking access, the council has adopted a number of ordinances restricting student parking on those streets.
The PTO task force, however, has been concerned that limiting student parking on surrounding streets will cause more cars dropping off students to use Kent Place Boulevard in front of the high school, thus decreasing safety of pedestrians and students on the boulevard.
The two co-chairs of the ad hoc committee, Susan Sidebottom and Colleen Manion, reminded the council at its meeting that council members had promised that, if the board of education showed it was taking steps to provide more on-campus parking at the high school for students, that it would loosen the restrictions on parking on streets surrounding the school.
Sidebottom also said, for the next school year, there will be 184 seniors applying for on-campus parking spots with only 110 spots available. Thus 74 student drivers would need other places to park, and the situation also would be more crucial with the anticipated start of the two-year reconstruction project of the Morris Avenue railroad bridge tentatively set for August 5.
The task force representatives also noted the school board had approved $32,000 for architectural studies in connection with increased on-campus parking, and they said the council should live up to its promise to lift on-street parking restrictions because the school board was moving to add on-campus parking.
Council public safety committee chairman Albert Dill, Jr. said that he would contact school business administrator Louis Pepe when Pepe returned August 8 to certify when work on the on-campus parking would begin.
The task force representatives said that, since school will begin the morning of September 8, the council meeting that evening would be too late to lift the restrictions.
Rubino and Hurley replied that, since the restrictions were included in ordinances, the earliest they could be lifted would be the first council meeting in October. The council does not meet in August.
Second Ward Councilwoman Sandra Lizza also said that the bridge closure would cause additional parking pressure on streets surrounding the high school.
She also suggested that school officials should look into providing jitney service to such areas as the aquatic center and the Merck property where students could be allowed to leave their cars during school hours.
Responding to concerns expressed by a Sunset Drive resident about the issue of a new city parking garage, Rubino noted that, due to public opposition to a garage at Lot No. 1 on DeForest Avenue, that option no longer was on the table.
Rubino added no further action would be taken on garage proposals, such as one being considered for the post office lot, until resident input was received at forums on the topic.
He also said the Summit Parking Advisory Committee is continuing to study the issue.
In response to a charge by the resident that not enough notice is given by the city to residents on the issue, the council president noted that council meeting agendas are posted on the city’s website along with proposed actions, the meetings are televised on HomeTowne Television and meetings are covered by TAPInto Summit, the hyperlocal digital news site covering the city since 2008, and a weekly print newspaper.
Hurley said, however, that the parking committee is not solely focused on the parking garage question since it is addressing concerns involving the entire Broad Street corridor.
The council also announced that the joint emergency dispatch center, which will handle police, fire and first aid squad calls from Summit, New Providence and Millburn, opened on July 28.