ROSELAND, NJ — Mayor James R. Spango and members of the council accepted with regret the resignation of Lieutenant Pat Lorenzo from the Roseland Auxiliary Police force effective July 11, 2020.  Lorenzo volunteered and served the borough for 16 years.  The mayor and members of the council thanked Lorenzo for his dedication and service and wished him well in the future.

Retired Police Captain John Matheis, who is the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) coordinator provided information as to requirements in order to volunteer.  Applicants must be at least 18 years of age and live within five miles of the borough and are provided with uniforms and bullet proof vests.  Matheis explained that some of the officer’s responsibilities include traffic control at the houses of worship and assisting at special events in town.  He remarked that it would be a good way for individuals to get experience if anyone was considering going into to law enforcement.  Once training is completed at the Academy, they are permitted to ride patrol with police officers at certain times and assist in all emergencies such as snowstorms and major accidents.  Mathies asked if anyone was interested in joining the force to contact him noting “we cannot put a value on what they do.”  Spango suggested optimizing signage areas throughout the borough to advertise for new recruits to the auxiliary police department.

Spango led a brief discussion about stipends given to first aid squad members and fire department volunteers and asked the council to consider in the future designating a small block of money to encourage volunteers similar to the other volunteer agencies “it may encourage involvement as well.”  Spango noted the “auxiliary officers save the borough money by assisting us at events and Captain Mathies at OEM, it would be well over $10,000 salaries if we had to assign overtime to police officers to the detail so why not encourage them to do it and give them a little reward at the end of the year because if they are not there we will have to incur additional costs”.  The council members agreed to discuss the issue at an upcoming caucus meeting.

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Spango provided a brief update on the COVID19 statistics noting that the positivity rate is now at 85 and there has been no increase in deaths for five weeks.  The mayor reported that letters were distributed to residents in Knob Hill, the Everly and Avalon informing them that state rental assistance was available.  Councilwoman Eileen Fishman noted the council had a resolution before it to allow for more storage shelves to be purchased in order to accommodate food donations at the Food Pantry.  Fishman cautioned that as the federal unemployment allowance of $600 weekly is scheduled to sunset on July 31st the need for assistance may grow and urged residents who may need help to reach out to Maria Burak who oversees the pantry.

Agenda items included the introduction of ordinances that replaced existing housing ordinances in order to be compliant with the current state affordable housing regulations.  Also, on first reading an ordinance was passed that would appropriate monies for various road improvements in the borough.  It was reported that bids for the park renovation at the Harrison Avenue complex will be going out and work should begin in August and hopefully be completed in October.  Spango said that the borough will plan for “Fall Fest and hope for the best.”

Council President Chris Bardi welcomed William Tedesco to the Board of Adjustment to fill the unexpired term of John Derites through 12/31/2022 and Lauren Seiner to the Recreation Committee to fill the unexpired term of Jeff Liddle through 12/31/2021.    He thanked the retiring members for their service which was echoed by his colleagues.  Bardi also thanked Director of Recreation Michael Coletti, the borough’s health officers and the SCRAM staff for their “great job” for keeping the kids safe while at camp.

Councilman Roger Freda reported that the traffic light at Passaic and Harrison Avenues now has a battery backup and external generator so when power is lost there will be no need to assign a police officer at the intersection which “will be a huge help.” 

Councilwoman Jean Perrotti stated that the fire department for the month of June responded to 85 calls compared to 112 calls in June 2019.  Perrotti thanked the Roseland Police Department and neighboring police departments for their joint efforts in apprehending car thieves recently.  The councilwoman also noted that the voice recorders and license plate readers are installed in the police cars commenting that it was “always nice to see when our capital plans are put into effect” and  updated her colleagues that quotes are still being sought for the body cameras and storage units for the officers.  Perrotti gave a brief update in her capacity as liaison to the school districts that plans for September are “still fluid” and that West Essex Regional School District’s survey garnered 930 responses.  Districts are working on plans that are subject to review by the New Jersey Department of Education and Health Department.

Councilwoman Michelle Tolli reported that the Roseland Public Library is now open, and the movie night recently held was a success and another will be scheduled in August.

The next caucus meeting will be August 4th.