By ELIZABETH OGUSS
A vote on a proposed resolution that would have adopted guidelines for community gardens was postponed at Tuesday night’s Township Council meeting, but the council did act to approve free parking for the holiday season, so that residents will have a few more quarters with which to “shop local.”
The council voted to implement a meter-bagging program that will allow two free hours of parking at metered spaces throughout Montclair from Saturday, Dec. 2, through Tuesday, Dec. 26.
Third Ward Councilman Sean Spiller reiterated a clause in the resolution that advises residents not to exceed the two-hour parking limit, as time limits are not suspended for the holiday shopping period.
The resolution on guidelines for community garden guidelines was postponed because of recent revisions in the document.
The guidelines were prompted by a community demonstration garden and a farmers’ market intiated over the summer in Crane Park, near Lackawanna Plaza, to address the scarcity of grocery stores created by the departure of Pathmark two years ago.
Israel Cronk, executive director of Montclair Business Improvement District, apologized to the council in July for not observing proper protocol with the two Crane Park initiatives, but at a Fourth Ward community meeting in September, Councilwoman Renée Baskerville said there were no such regulations on the township’s books.
The resolution was on the council’s consent agenda at Tuesday’s meeting but was withdrawn from the vote, which encompassed 19 other resolutions on the agenda.
Spiller asked that the resolution on community gardens, R_17-266, be withdrawn because revisions had recently been made to the guidelines.
The resolution is titled “A resolution declaring the Township of Montclair’s support for the creation, protection and long-term sustainability of community gardens.”
The text of the resolution is available on the municipal website, but the proposed guidelines were not, as of Tuesday night.
The matter will be voted on at a future council meeting.
The council passed without discussion six salary ordinances for municipal employees for varying terms:
For the Police Benevolent Association Local 53 for 2015-18;
For Superior Officers Association Local 53A for 2016-19;
For the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Local 2296, Council 52 for 2017-19;
For the Office of Professional Employees International Union, Local 32 for 2016-18; For the Montclair Fire Superior Officers Association Local 20A for 2015-2020;
and for the Firemen’s Mutual Benevolent Association Local 20 for 2015-2020.
Other items on the consent agenda, voted on together without discussion, had to do with authorizing the purchase of three new new 2018 Ford Police Interceptor utility vehicles; awarding a contract for parking deck repairs to Sealcrete Contracting LLC of Bordentown; and designating One Bay Urban Renewal LLC as the redeveloper to implement a redevelopment plan for the HUMC/Mountainside Hospital Redevelopment Area; as well as budget transfers, municipal employee health benefits enrollment, and other matters.
Announcements and public comment
At-large Councilman Robert Russo congratulated Baskerville on her appointment to governor-elect Phil Murphy’s transition team, and announced his own appointment to the transition team’s law and justice committee.
Public comment, which exceeded the actual meeting in length, touched on issues related to the Bonsal Preserve, which straddles the towns of Montclair and Clifton; the licensing/registering of landscapers; and steps Montclair could take to minimize its carbon footprint.
A woman who recently moved to town from California described Montclair this way: “Perfect town, one flaw.” The flaw is leafblowers, she said, which disturb “the quality of life to a degree I’m amazed by.”
Russo responded to her comments, referencing earlier referendums on the controversial topic. He said, “We’ll keep looking at this.”
In response to a question regarding a traffic light on Bloomfield Avenue between Grove and Elm, Mayor Robert Jackson said that Essex County will be installing all new lights on Bloomfield Avenue, from the Montclair Art Museum east as far as Maple Avenue, in either 2018 or 2019.
New Year’s Eve event ‘rescheduled’
Robin Woods asked the council about a potential successor event to First Night, Montclair’s New Year’s Eve celebration, which began in 1989 and was discontinued after 2011 for lack of funds.
The renewed celebration had been proposed by the Montclair BID earlier this fall, but there has been no recent publicity, she said.
The question was not answered definitively on Tuesday night, but Cronk confirmed to Montclair Local on Wednesday morning that the New Year’s Eve event has been “rescheduled for next year’s 150th celebration.”