ROSELAND, NJ — Several Roseland residents were presented with proclamations for various accomplishments during last week’s borough council meeting.

After being nominated by her six-year-old son, Joaquim Martinez, for the 2019 “Mother of the Year” contest offered to grades 1-3, Macarena Herrera was presented with this year’s award. In his submission, the young resident spoke of his mother's kindness and thanked her for giving him two little brothers.

Tami Brandeis, who was named “Mother of the Year” for grades 4-5, was unable to attend the ceremony.

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Mayor James Spango also presented a Key to the City to outgoing honorary mayor Aaron Klaff, who will have his name engraved on a newly installed plaque outside of council chambers. Klaff, a rising fifth grader at Lester C. Noecker School, spent the last year assisting Spango and former mayor John Duthie with mayoral duties such as handing out the awards at the 36th Annual Run for the Roses, lighting the town bonfire, leading the Menorah and Christmas tree lightings and more. 

Spango then introduced incoming honorary mayor Pablo Arvanitopovla, a local eighth grader, as his parents, John and Mary Arvanitopovla, looked on. Arvanitopovla informed Spango that he aspires to run for the office of mayor in the next couple of years, and noted that Spango might be “president of the United States by then.”

Another proclamation was presented to the Roseland Environmental Commission (REC), represented by Chris Duthie and Priscilla Narvaez Johnson, for the initiatives that the commission has installed throughout the borough. Councilman David Jacobs noted that the REC has increased public awareness of the need to protect the environment.

In other news, the governing body passed three ordinances by unanimous votes during the meeting.

The first adopted amendment creates a committee entitled “Municipal Youth Guidance Council” with the purpose of providing "community service through a variety of activities and to develop good character traits that will support lifelong achievement.”

According to the ordinance, the committee will consist of nine members to be appointed by the mayor with the advice and consent of council members, including a member of the borough council to act as a liaison. Youth subcommittee members will consist of Roseland students from either the public or a private high school.

The second ordinance adopted allows for a portion of the first and second floors of the borough hall to be utilized by the ARC of Essex County, Inc., a non-profit organization that promotes and improves supports and services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Essex County. The two-year lease began on May 1 and will expire on April 30, 2021, with the option to extend the lease for an additional two years. A monthly rental fee of $9,911.66 has been established, according to the ordinance.

A third ordinance provides for various improvements to Harrison Avenue Park, appropriating $650,000 and therefore appropriating the issuance of $500,000 in bonds or notes to provide for playground improvements and including all work and materials necessary.

In response to a resident’s question regarding the need for the upgrades, Councilwoman Eileen Fishman said that it has been 18-to-20 years since anything has been done.

“We represent the people and we need to make the town livable by our littlest to our oldest,” she said. “Safety is of utmost importance and all safety concerns will be considered. The park should last between 10-to-15 years.” 

Councilwoman Michelle Tolli added that “the process is ongoing, and vendors are still being considered.”

“One of the goals is to make the playground ADA accessible,” said Tolli.

In addition to adopting these ordinances, Council President Chris Bardi provided an update on enhancing and improving the borough’s website to increase awareness and transparency.

To that end, the council unanimously approved funds for a summer intern to work part-time to assist in updating the website. The intern will be a Caldwell University student hired at $12 per hour for 25 hours per week from June 3 to Aug. 16.

Upcoming events and other updates:

Spango stated during last week’s meeting that banners will be placed throughout the borough to alert residents to upcoming community events, stating that it is the council’s job to “get these events out there and make people know about them.”

Some of these events include the annual borough picnic to be held on June 8, which has been expanded to include more carnival-type games and activities than previously offered.

The 28th annual father-child bowling tournament for K-6th-grade students will be held on Friday, June 14 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Eagle Rock Bowling Lanes in West Orange.

Camp Wyanokie will be celebrating its 100-year anniversary on June 15 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Additionally, the first aid squad will be hosting an open house on June 22 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for all West Essex-area residents to attend.

Speaking about the summer concert series to be held on July 17 and Aug. 8, Spango thanked all who have donated to the concerts, including Tom O’Byrne for his donation of $5,000 and Schumacher Chevrolet for a donation of $2,500.

Councilman Roger Freda reminded residents that if they receive a yellow card from the Department of Public Works (DPW), this indicates that the meter-changing program is ongoing.

During her council report, Fishman apprised the governing body that there are now four signs in place stating Roseland is a “Stigma-Free Town.” She said that a Mental Health Task Force has been established and is currently seeking residents who are professionals in the field to consider volunteering in order to address issues such as substance abuse and other mental health concerns.

Bardi advised that the Essex County Mosquito Control division has done an aerial spray, but that residents should contact the division with any requests for a ground spraying.

Jacobs stressed the importance of having home dryer vents cleaned, as they can be a hazard to the safety of homes. He also noted that walkers, joggers and dog walkers should be wearing reflective gear at night.

Finally, Spango stated that any homeowners who intend to leave for an extended period of time should consider notifying the Roseland Police Department, which offers to conduct vacant home checks throughout the year.

The mayor also reflected on Memorial Day as “a time to step back and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice and to remember those who cannot be with us because of their service.”