SUMMIT, NJ - The Summit Common Council’s January 21 meeting fell the day after the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Justice, Equality, and Service to Others, and the group recognized it by adopting a special Administrative Policies & Community Services resolution. In introducing the declaration, Ward 1 Council Member David Naidu noted that the Council rarely has made a resolution that “sets forth a statement about who we are,” but that it was doing so tonight.

He also gave a nod to the Summit Interfaith Council, on whose “Statement of Our Common Ground” the resolution was based. 

The full text of the resolution: 

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"WHEREAS, many residents, businesses, community groups and schools observe and participate in activities in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Justice, Equality, and Service to Others, and WHEREAS, January 20, 2020 marks the 25th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Justice, Equality, and Service to Others, and WHEREAS, the Summit Common Council and Mayor Nora Radest desire to make a statement honoring the 25th Anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Justice, Equality and Service to Others. 

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE COMMON COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF SUMMIT, NEW JERSEY: It does hereby issue the following statement in honor and recognition of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Justice, Equality and Service to Others: 

We, the Common Council and Mayor of the City of Summit, New Jersey, honor the 25th Anniversary of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Justice, Equality and Service to Others by unequivocally affirming our community’s support for inclusivity and diversity. We affirm these principles because as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, 'A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true'.

We believe in the equal treatment of all of our citizens as well as the stranger among us. We denounce rhetoric of bigotry and hatred and condemn groups or individuals who spread or incite hatred and division. We call upon all to speak with civility and respect for each other’s thoughts, ideas and perspectives. We call upon all leaders to uphold the principles of justice, fairness and equality for all. We do not tolerate prejudice based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or national origin. We believe that we must all work toward eliminating prejudice and treating each other based on the content of our character. We celebrate that our community strives to be an example by valuing and engaging diverse races, ethnicities, religions, ages and abilities and counts these differences as strengths. We call upon all leaders to serve their fellow residents by seeking to unify and to uplift each other so that we can all equally enjoy the benefits of being members of a community."

Rabbi Hannah Orden, president of the Summit Interfaith Council, accompanied by Rev. Vernon Williams, vice president, said her organization had spent over a year creating its Statement of Our Common Ground, “an affirmation of equal treatment of all our citizens as well as the stranger among us.” She commended Summit’s elected officials for heeding the SIC’s call, and says she looks forward to continuing to work with City government to “strengthen our commitment to the values expressed” in the resolution.

Orden also presented a statement from Annette Dwyer, chair of Shaping Summit Together, who could not attend the meeting. Dwyer expressed her gratitude to the Council and mayor for articulating the “superordinate ideals which can guide our respective activities” for all in Summit. She called it a “clear message [that we] can engage in civil discourse about matters which affect members of the community, and we can resolve to work together to make Summit a place where everyone belongs.”

Dr. Betty Livingston Adams thanked the Council for memorializing the City’s MLK Day activities. She also requested a similar statement ensuring that all persons representing the City or acting on its behalf conduct themselves in ways “that uphold our principles and commitments to diversity and inclusivity.” Council President Marjorie Fox said the statement was intended to be all-encompassing, but agreed to look at whether additional measures should be put in place, referring it to the Administrative Policies & Community Services committee.

Nora Radest’s also referenced MLK Day in her Mayor’s Report, mentioning the nine different events she herself had attended throughout the City and calling it “a day on, not a day off.”

Firehouse Project Update

Fire Chief Eric Evers provided a brief update on the new firehouse, bringing up Christopher Kehde, principal at LeMay Erickson Willcox Architects. The design phase is just about completed and the project is shifting into the construction document phase.

The new building will allow all department vehicles to be parked indoors, with exits in two directions. It will have its own fuel station.

The building uses “hot zone” design to isolate areas most likely to be exposed to contamination. Kehde used the catchphrase “shower within the hour,” explaining that firefighters will be able to shower and change clothes as soon as they return from a call. This will help prevent contamination from being spread to other parts of the firehouse.

The mezzanine level will accommodate training space, while the upper level holds bunk suites, other living space, and administrative offices.

Bidding for construction of brick-facade structure is expected to take place in June-July, with permit reviews in July-August. Construction is anticipated to start in September 2020 and end by November 2021, taking 14 to 16 months.

Asked by Naidu about the project’s cost, Evers said the building is currently projected to come in about $110,000 under its $11.8 million budget. Kedhe called the $333/square foot construction estimate representative of the current market. Radest asked about environmental considerations such as solar panels. Kehde’s response was that while photovoltaic panels could be accommodated, the current roof configuration would make the return on those panels negligible.

Naidu asked if specialized “non-general contractor” firms would be needed for construction. While his firm likes to require that a contractor has experience building such structures – he mentioned the equipment bays as an example having specific requirements – Kehde said it’s not an absolute requirement.

Eileen Kelly of 47 Woodland Avenue asked about the anticipated ongoing costs of operating the new firehouse. Though unable to provide a specific dollar amount, Kehde noted that, for example, the current building is largely uninsulated while the new building is being designed to conform with LEED standards so it will offer significant efficiency.

Resolutions

In other business, Ward 2 Council Member Stephen Bowman moved a pair of Law & Labor resolutions declaring single vacancies in the Department of Community Services – Division of Public Works and the Fire Department, each due to retirements.

Council Member at-Large Beth Little had a number of Capital Projects & Community Services resolutions. The first approved a 30-year deed restriction on a pair of affordable housing units at 123-127 Summit Avenue. She bundled four resolutions authorizing specialized engineering consulting service contracts between the Department of Community Services and firms which are already providing such services at rates established by the City. Included were Boswell Engineering (oversight and inspection services, not to exceed $250,000.00), Mott MacDonald (Licensed Site Remediation Professional, not to exceed $200,000.00), Neglia Engineering Associates (sanitary sewer, not to exceed $100,000.00), and Maser Consulting, PA (traffic, not to exceed $100,000.00). Also authorized was a professional services agreement with Burgis Associates, Inc., for city planning services not to exceed $45,000. Burgis is Summit’s in-house planning contractor. Similarly approved was a professional services agreement with Maraziti Falcon, the city’s redevelopment attorney, not to exceed $50,000.00. Little noted that “we expect that these costs will be reimbursed” under the constructs of the conditional designation of developer agreement.

Little moved a change order for the City Hall air conditioning chiller replacement project for an additional $14,302.00. This is to replace valves which weren’t included in the original estimate. However, the overall project is still under budget. Also moved were resolutions authorizing deer culling at Reeves Reed Arboretum and the addition of the Family Aquatic Center to the list of approved sites for 2020 Earth Day Clean-Up activities.

Greg Vartan, Ward 2 Council Member, had two Finance resolutions. The first authorized the transfer of appropriations within the operating budget from accounts with a surplus to those with insufficient funds until the 2020 budget is adopted. It passed on a unanimous roll call vote. His second resolution authorized annual salaries for City staff.

Ward 1 Council Member Susan Hairston’s one Safety & Health resolution authorized the acceptance of a $2,710.00 grant to the Fire Department from FM Global for a volatile organic compound meter and testing to test air, water, and soil for contaminants.

All resolutions passed.

Volunteer of the Year Award

Summit’s second Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to Dr. Marian Glenn and Beth Lovejoy, both past chairs and long-time members of the Summit Environmental Commission. Their legacy includes Summit’s Sustainable Jersey awards and energy audits for residents.

In her Mayor’s Report, Radest congratulated Keeper of the Dream winners Zachary Brooks for his work with autism awareness, Leonard Prentice for his work with the homeless, Morris Habitat for Humanity, and the Summit Environmental Commission.Michael Rogers, City administrator, addressed the issue of the former DCP employee criminally charged by the county prosecutor’s office, saying the administration “acted swiftly and responsibly to ensure a proper investigation was conducted.” He also assured the audience that purchasing protocols were reviewed and modified as necessary.