ROSELAND, NJ — Roseland Mayor James R. Spango and members of the borough council addressed at Tuesday’s virtual meeting the data confirming the number of positive COVID-19 cases the borough has seen since the pandemic began.
The total number of positive cases is 163. Twenty percent of that figure were reported in October, and to date November represents 22% of the total number of cases reported since March.
In an effort to assist restaurant owners, the council unanimously approved extending the resolution that permits outdoor seating. The original resolution’s permitted time frame was scheduled to expire Nov. 30, however the council previously discussed extensions granted monthly, weather permitting. A brief discussion took place concerning the possibility of permitting outdoor bubbles for dining, and it was confirmed that safety measures such as heating and ventilation requirements are regulations that have been forwarded from the health officer to the zoning officer and all relevant departments.
During public comment resident Dave Veneri, president of the Roseland Green condominium association, addressed the governing body requesting consideration of additional ambulance service for the borough. Noting the excellent service, the volunteer Roseland First Aid Squad provides when volunteers are available, there is still a need for immediate response times that can be a matter of life or death. Veneri referenced a recent call he made for his elderly parent that took 18 minutes for the ambulance to arrive. Another call was not responded to and “the ambulance never came. We need to change this, and we need better service.”
Spango confirmed that all police officers are trained emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and noted that the police cars do not have the same medical equipment that ambulances carry. He confirmed there needs to be better communication between the Roseland First Aid Squad and the police department confirming rosters for the shifts. The borough does have a contract with an outside ambulance service but “better coordination needs to occur.”
Spango stated that the borough is looking into the feasibility of billing residents’ insurance companies for the ambulance cost in order to afford a self-sustaining ambulance service. Council President Chris Bardi added that with two new townhome developments that are being planned, specifically one will be a 55+ community we would be “piling on the cart” and added “I agree 100% we need to stay on top of this.”
Resolutions included the purchase of a Ford Interceptor Utility Police Vehicle for $39,122 that will be paid for entirely by a grant. Other items approved were new hoses for the Roseland Volunteer Fire Department and the hiring of a Remington and Vernick to provide consulting services for GIS Mapping Projects. Bardi stated that by the borough having this mapping project undertaken, in the event of broken pipes repairs can be expedited by knowing specifically where repairs would be needed.
The borough renamed the name of the Roseland Relief Fund to the Roseland Covid-19 Relief Fund. The fund provides that: “the dedicated revenues anticipated from the Covid-19 Relief Fund are hereby anticipated as revenue and are hereby appropriated for the purpose of providing food and/or other valuable resources and support to the Borough’s most vulnerable residents.” A resolution to raise revenue for the fund was passed that will allow for the selling of Roseland face masks. The masks are being sold for $8 and are embroidered with the Borough seal and the phrase “Strength Through Community” underneath.
Residents may purchase masks by mailing a check to the Borough (140 Eagle Rock Avenue) made out to “Borough of Roseland Relief Fund” with "Mask Sale" on the memo line or place an order on the Borough’s website.
The consent agenda included the acceptance with regret of the resident of William Styskal from the recreation committee effective Dec. 31. Spango thanked Styskal for his service and said it was “bittersweet, Bill has put in countless hours to the borough and will still contribute his time.”
In a lighthearted moment, Spango reported that his correspondence included a third-grade student from Lester Noecker Elementary School requesting that the mayor “speak to her supervisor and make sure she gets less homework.”
Committee reports included Bardi stating that the first budget meeting for the 2021 municipal budget took place this past Saturday and a review of capital project requests from all departments. The next meeting scheduled for Dec. 12 will focus on the department of public works, the courts and administration.
Councilman “Moose” Trillo confirmed he will add Veneri’s request to possibly merge with the West Essex First Aid Squad to the agenda for his next meeting addressing shared services. Councilwoman Eileen Fishman reported that bids will go out in January or February for Tedesco Park. Spango confirmed that the borough was the recipient of a $150,000 Open Space Trust Fund grant provided by Essex County that will be used towards the park’s renovations. Fishman and Spango thanked Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo for the grant.
Councilman Roger Freda stated that he had suggested that the borough go out to bid for emergency snow/ice and salting services in the event the DPW staff’s numbers are reduced due to positive COVID-19 results. Freda stated: “the borough needs to have backup to make sure our streets are clear. There will be no costs to the borough unless the service is utilized.” Specifications for bids will be going out during the first week of December.
Councilwoman Jean Perrotti took the opportunity to thank recently retired Police Chief Richard McDonough for his 45 years of service to the community. Perrotti wished him the best in his retirement and noted that Captain Richard Costello will now assume the Officer in Charge title.
Councilwoman Michelle Tolli announced that the borough’s holiday celebration will take place on Saturday, Dec. 5 beginning 5 p.m. on Harrison Avenue. Residents will have an opportunity to drive through the complex to view the decorations and may exit their cars, in a socially distant manner, to have pictures taken with Santa Claus by a photographer provided by the borough. There will be carolers, and Santa’s elves to add to the festivities.
Spango wished all a happy Thanksgiving, stating: “It was an extremely tough year in so many ways. We have had unique losses this year and now it is a time to reflect on what we have. We need to keep our celebrations small this year in order to have big ones next year.”