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River Edge Council Tackles Key Borough Topics

The governing body will spend tonight's meeting talking about the 2013 Open Space Trust Fund allocations, Cherry Blossom Park, Sidewalk Replacement costs and amending the Shade Tree ordinance

During tonight's lengthy 7pm work session and 8pm public meeting, the River Edge Mayor and Council will tackle some of the borough's most recent controversial topics from sidewalk replacements and a shade tree ordinance to the Cherry Blossom Park and 2013 Open Space Trust Fund allocations.

Sidewalk Repairs

River Edge and New Milford have previously been in talks on exploring a shared service agreement to cover sidewalk replacements costs for slabs that were damaged by Superstorm Sandy.

Each borough has an ordinance in place stipulating that homeowners are responsible for covering the costs to replace sidewalk slabs. But officials were unsure of passing the cost onto homeowners as borough shade trees had caused the destruction.

According to DPW Superintendent John Lynch, there are approximately 38 slabs that need to be reset and an additional 40 for reconstruction. New Milford has an estimated 66 slabs that need to be replaced with the potential cost of $150 per 4-by-5 slab.

Shade Tree Ordinance 

River Edge spent five years drafting a Shade Tree Ordinance that ties the removal of a tree with that of acquiring a building permit. The council's Tuesday night agenda now calls for discussion of amending the ordinance.

The ordinance was initially introduced in May after five years of rewrites and delays but then defeated in early June over concerns of property rights infringement. The previously proposed legislation would have given the Shade Tree Commission jurisidiction over the removal and protection of any trees located on both private and public property except for when a homeowner removes a tree on their property for maintenance or in case of an emergency.

Later that month, the council began discussing the ordinance again but with the goal of removing any oversight of trees on private property while retaining the requirement that any tree removal be tied with a building permit application. It would then place a greater emphasis on larger home construction and that of redevelopment projects over smaller construction projects by homeowners.

Open Space Trust Fund

After defeating the Open Space Trust Fund ballot question in 2011, residents had a change of heart and restored the funding. This year, the fund was passed with 1,503 votes with 1,434 in opposition.

The Trust Fund allows for one cent per each $100 of a homeowners taxbill to be set aside for the preserveration of open space in the borough.

In prior years the majority of the trust fund's allocations have been used to cover  with additional funding being set aside for the Recreation Commission, Beautification Committee, Shade Tree Commission, 9/11 Memorial and Environmental Committee.

Cherry Blossom Park

The borough purchased less than an acre of land between Cherry Hill Elementary and the Christian Community Church in 2008 with the goal of creating a pocket park in the southern part of town.

The park area, was purchased with a Bergen County Open Space grant and additional funding is expected from the DEP-based Green Acres. Tonight the governing body will finally determine where they stand with receiving any Green Acres grant funds.

In in its report that an underground storage tank had not leaked following its removal; that soil samples revealed the existence of chlordane, an insecticide that was used prior to 1983 for crops, lawns and gardens; and that a building on site would require asbestos remediation prior to its removal.

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njdelta January 22, 2013 at 02:38 PM
These are the important issues our town has to address? How about lowering our debt and creating a town savings account....so we don't have to have "important" meetings about replacing a few concrete curbs. How about laying out a long-term plan to reduce property taxes?
Jack Doe January 22, 2013 at 11:58 PM
Performance testing for public employees - just like in private industry. It's the only way to move forward rather then be in a perpetual disussion phase. But then decisions have consequences (like re-election) so decisions rarely come to a vote. It's why "the people have lost faith in government (read local, state, federal) at any level,
Alphonse Bartelloni January 24, 2013 at 05:43 PM
NJDelta, it got no coverage in the press, but this past year the Finance Committee, myself, Ed Mignone and with Tom Papaleo drafted a surplus policy and a debt policy that will limit the amount of debt the Borough can incur and sets up goals to reduce the debt and we also drafted a surplus policy a savings account plan to get us back in financial shape. This was passed at the last meeting for 2012. Didn't get covered by the Patch or Town News and it really was a huge accomplishment as River Edge is either the only or one of the only municipal governments in NJ that have a formal debt policy.
Alphonse Bartelloni January 24, 2013 at 05:46 PM
You are also right in that the key issues are reducing spending, reducing debt and spurring real development in town. We have to focus on rebuilding Kinderkamack and the stores and shops along our main roadway. Pocket parks, sidewalks and shade trees while important cannot deter us from our main objectives.

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