Two of the grants, the Pedestrian Safety Grant ($16,000), and the Justice Administration Grant ($14,100) require no matching funds from the township. The Pedestrian Safety Grant will fund expenses such as the purchase of electronic billboards, and a “cops in crosswalks” program whereby police officers posing as pedestrians will stop motorists who fail to yield to the pedestrian in the crosswalk. The Justice Administration Grant funds are earmarked to offset costs for a new ticketing program.
The third grant is a Municipal Alliance Grant for $36,000, which requires $9,000 in matching funds, and will be used for addiction and drug awareness programs.
In other business, the council agreed to a proposal by Councilman Michael Venezia to establish a Restaurant Week in Bloomfield, similar to programs in other towns such as Montclair. The first week will be planned for February, 2012. Venezia also requested that a Restaurant Committee be formed, comprising at least five people, and nominated three people to serve on the committee: Linda Barucky, Kathy DeMarino, and Naomi Strumolo. The council approved the nominations, and Councilman Joanow said he would also like to be on the committee.
Tax Assessor Joe Pisauro warned the council that the $1.367 million bond that had been set aside for expenses pertaining to the 2009 property revaluation is running short in the amounts earmarked for defending tax and appraisal appeals, as a result of a higher-than-anticipated number of appeals due to the poor economy.
Township Clerk Louise Palagano discussed the 2010 census results, which showed that Bloomfield’s population is under the 50,000 level that would qualify the township to be defined as a “city.” City status could provide additional benefits from the government, so the township will consider pursuing a challenge to the census results, as fewer than 3,000 additional residents would bring the population to the required level. The U.S. Census would not do a recount; Bloomfield would be responsible for finding additional residents that may have been missed in the count. Since this would incur additional cost, Mayor McCarthy requested that a cost benefit analysis be performed to see whether the additional benefits of city status would outweigh the expenses. The township has until June 1, 2013 to file a challenge.
Palagano also announced that Comcast will give a public presentation at the next Council conference meeting, which will be held on Tuesday, October 11, at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers. The Comcast franchise is up for renewal, and the public will have an opportunity to ask questions after the presentation. In addition, the most recent issue of the Bloomfield Buzz included a survey about Comcast; about 100 surveys have been returned so far. The survey is also available on the township website in the electronic version of the Buzz.
Councilman Robert Ruane brought up the subject of rent control once again, proposing to create a new division in the Department of Health & Human Services that would oversee tenant/landlord relations. The Mayor pointed out that he would need to propose this idea at a Board of Health meeting, which Ruane agreed to do. However, the discussion became contentious when Ruane said that he had to look into this route because the council had not done enough to protect the tenants. He went on to point to specific members of the council and question why they have not done more to help tenants, which led to a heated discussion with Councilman Bernard Hamilton, who said that he had to look at the good of the town as a whole, and that the greater good is what is important. “Don’t accuse me of not caring,” he said.
The next meeting of the council will be held in the council chambers at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, October 3, 2011.