Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Summing up the 6/15/10 Council Workshop

At last Tuesday's Town Council Workshop, we discussed several items;


This year the Township Council chose not to commit to the Master Plan of the Highlands Council. This would be a regional plan for development. While there were many attractive environmental protections in the plan, there was still too much uncertainty. We can still evaluate joining the plan over the next several years, I believe it was a good decision to not commit to a State run plan just yet.

instead, we must apply many of those planning principals for ourselves to govern. We have asked our Township Planner to re-evaluate our ordinances. Last Tuesday was the first discussion of some of his suggestions. While I oppose over-bearing government and regulations, I believe it is important for the Township of Denville to have a framework to rectify extreme situations where property maintenance is clearly an health and safety concern. As well, we will also tighten our lighting ordinances and more environmental ordinances. I plan to support these ordinance revisions at introduction and further.


We also discussed the ongoing issues of our Police Station. While it was determined that the mold in the police headquarters was not threatening, there is no doubt that the building is in bad shape. My position has remained the same, I could not yet support a 1.8 Million renovation of the headquarters. As well others on the council were rethinking their positions. Because there was no longer 5 council members in support of the full renovation, a new consensus was taken on fixing the current issues and expanding the locker room for a much less price tag of $500,000. This money would be bonded over time and will have much less impact on the taxpayer. Most importantly the Police Station desperately needs it and is several years overdue. We can not allow our officers to work in the unacceptable conditions any longer. As well, our Building Manager will look at cost-effective ways to improve the conditions and press harder for other measures that can be accommodated for the lesser price tag. This was just a consensus that will now proceed down the governmental process of issuing an introduction, applying for bonding then final approval.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

My Position on the Denville Police Station

Parts of Denville's Police Station are in horrible shape. There is inadequate space in the locker room, evidence room, break area, server room and other areas. They have an unacceptable mold problem in the men's locker room. For several years the Denville Police have been promised renovations. Should the Police Station have been updated when the Municipal Building was completed? - Probably. Should the mold problem and overcrowding been addressed a year ago? Definitely. I was not on Town Council then and I am not interested in passing blame. We have a problem now that needs to be addressed.

This year, the Town Council, with 3 new members, was presented several options to remedy the situation. The first, an immediate "band aid" of approximately $300,000, then 2 other options ranging from 1 million to 1.8 million dollars. The "band aid" solution and smaller priced option would only be temporary solutions. However, any cost would be financed over a long period of time with the hopes of minor tax impact.

At a recent Town Council Workshop, we all committed to finding a solution. However, I couldn't vote to give direction to the architects to preliminarily proceed with 1.8 Million dollar renovation just yet. I have seen the Police station and understand the gravity of the situation. Instead, I would have preferred to immediately approve the $300,000 or slightly more to temporarily fix the immediate problems. Perhaps this would cost more in the long run but after last evening I'm concerned with the process of a new renovation. As well, there are times when you just don't have money to buy a new car and must continue to repair the old car in order to make it through a difficult time. I think we are in those times. Most of the Council supported moving forward with the full expansion, however many had differing ideas on the process. The Mayor also had another new proposal he was looking into. This unclear direction worries me that 2 years from now our police station will be no further than it is now. Therefore I would rather a smaller fix that could be executed quickly to improve the working conditions now.

Regardless of my vote, I am committed to keeping the public informed about the condition and needs of our police station. We have the best Police Department in the County led by an outstanding Chief. Several weeks ago the public tours of the station were cancelled, but they need to be reinstated The awareness campaign must continue. We now need to make sure we follow through with improving the Police Station responsibly.