The Montclair Township Council’s August 22 meeting was even a quicker affair than the conference meeting that preceded it two weeks earlier – 20 minutes, just enough time to pass six new ordinances on first reading, nine resolutions in a consent agenda and four more resolutions separately, with a 6-0 vote; Fourth Ward Councilor Renée Baskerville was the only member not present. The only comments on the various items passed came from Third Ward Councilor Sean Spiller.
Councilor Spiller asked about the first-reading ordinance appropriating $500,000 from the Capital Improvement Fund for the acquire and install new water system infrastructure water system control updates, variable frequency drive replacements, and funds for an environmental cleanup in the Watchung Avenue pumping station. He said he understood that the fountain at the circle between Valley Road and Church Street is in that area, and he asked Acting Township Manager Tim Stafford to check and see if this is the last major piece that has to be taken care of before the developers of Valley and Bloom complex can repair the fountain as they had promised. Stafford said that he would. In regard to an ordinance appropriating $350,000 from Capital Improvement Fund for refurbishing parking decks and lots, and upgrading the enforcement devices and improving signage improvements to signage in said decks and lots, Councilor Spiller asked Stafford to look at how signs could be employed throughout the town, such as signage directing motorists to open spaces and enacting parking availability. He asked Stafford to look at how other towns use such signage for guidance, and Stafford was happy to oblige.
Councilor Spiller successfully had a resolution pulled from the consent agenda, which would renew the contract with the private vendor operating the Clary Anderson Arena. He thought the vendors were doing an excellent job, but he added that he wanted to wait until conversations between the vendor and groups like Hockey in New Jersey, who are interested in using the arena, concluded. Hockey in New Jersey works to bring ice hockey to children. The councilor made special note of programs hockey for disadvantaged youth, and he said that talks between the vendor and the groups were ongoing. “I don’t foresee any problems with that,” Councilor Spiller said, “but I do think that it might be helpful if we hold off on this just to see how the arrangements are made.”
Councilor-at-Large Robert Russo seconded the motion to table. The contract is to be renewed in September and be in effect through May 31, 2018. While that resolution was saved for later, though a resolution awarding a contract to Halecon to upgrade the tennis courts and rand Park with new granite curbing, surfacing, and new nets and equipment was passed. That contract is worth $256,000. The council also appointed Jose German to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee. Mayor Robert Jackson said that Dr. Baskerville was very excited about German joining and was looking forward to working with him.
In public comment, Lily Becker of Montclair High School’s Class of 2018 said she had been very happy to work as a volunteer to clean up Crane Park and was inspired by the many people who participated for the benefit of the community. She said that many passersby who asked about the project became interested in the twice-weekly farmer’s market at the site. Meanwhile, Israel Cronk, the executive director of the Montclair Center Business Improvement District (BID), said that the BID was interested in establishing a department of marketing organization to promote Montclair and bring in more visitors. He said he was also working with the Montclair History Center to promote a walking tour and he has spoken with business leaders in other towns on how the BID can pursue its objective.
Cronk also noted that the MC Hotel is to be the linchpin in the BID’s goal, and he asked Mayor Jackson and the council if they knew anything about progress on the hotel, currently under construction; no one could answer him. The MC Hotel’s Web site projects an opening date sometime in early 2018.
Also, Raffaele Marzullo updated the council on the pending visit of dignitaries of Montclair’s new sister city of Aquilonia, Italy, as Marzullo was instrumental in the effort to establishing the link between the two towns. Marzullo, who was born in Aquilonia, announced that the head monk of the Benedictine monastery which hid the Shroud of Turin – believed by Catholics to be Christ’s burial cloth – from the Nazis in World War II would be joining the official delegation from Aquilonia visiting Montclair this year. Marzullo told the council that the mayor of Aquilonia, Giancarlo DeVito, personally invited the monastery’s head monk, or the abate, to join the delegation, and the abate accepted. The delegation is scheduled to visit Montclair between October 5 and October 11, and the abate is expected to celebrate Mass at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Roman Catholic Church.