Fair Haven Meeting Notes & Quotes

Because the little details in municipal meetings tend to get missed and attendance by the public is usually low, R-FH Retro will bring them to the forefront with Meeting Notes, starting with this editor’s notes from last night’s regular Borough Council meeting as well as last week’s special meeting.

Each Meeting Notes story will also highlight a top classic Quote of the Meeting and call attention to other noteworthy things said, funny or serious.

And what’s a quote without forever Fair Havenite Ruth Blaser to kick it off with a classic we pulled from the last night’s?

There are some other good ones from the new mayor, officials and residents highlighted. Read on and take note of the notes we took for you, starting with Ruth Blaser’s classic …

Resident Ruth Blaser at a 2014 meeting
Photo/Elaine Van Develde

Back in the day …
and I know you don’t want to hear that because I say it frequently.”

Longtime Fair Haven resident Ruth Blaser at Monday’s meeting

From the meetings …

Names in Fair Haven news

Kathleen Walsh, of 22 Heights Terrace, was appointed, by resolution, as a social member of the Fair Haven Fire Department.

Sergio Germinario and Nancy Carter have been appointed, via resolution, part-time school crossing guards at the recommendation of Police Chief Joe McGovern. The two requested the move in employment status from the permanent to part-time positions.

Little things that matter from Monday’s Fair Haven Borough Council meeting …

Councilwoman Betsy Koch, liaison to the Recreation Committee, thanked all involved in organizing and facilitating the Halloween parade, calling it “a great success.” She cited an “overwhelming response by the residents and lots and lots of kids.”

The Halloween decorating contest is in full swing. Koch reminded all who want to nominate themselves or neighbors, do so today, as judging will begin late in the week.

Halloween & Mischief Night curfews are 8 and 6 p.m., respectively, the public was reminded.

The 2022 leaf and brush pick-up schedule was approved with lots of comment on the notion that the consensus is and always has been that residents want more leaf and brush pick up, not less. A March pick-up is
“on the radar,” but a lot depends on weather, officials noted. “I think March would be suitable for the residents and July would work as well for a swing month,” Mayor Halpern said. “But, you don’t know what Mother Nature is going to do.”

There are other considerations, officials noted, such as the borough’s regular waste disposal site being recently closed down by the NJDEP and relocation of disposal to an alternate site in Colts Neck.

Longtime Fair Havenite Ruth Blaser, who has been known to attend every meeting, had some things to say: “Make it simple. Resident-friendly. Having it more often does not make any more leaves fall off the trees. It doesn’t accrue any more bulk stuff. It just spreads it out more … Now, folks, come on, keep it simple. That’s it.” She referred to another out-of-state pick-up policy.

Halpern said “I wish we wish we could do it every day,” but there’s a “fiscal responsibility” and more considerations that go along with more pick-ups. The idea, he said, is to “get together and work for the best of Fair Haven.”

LED street lighting …

It’s a more green and environmentally friendly move going forward. That’s what was said about switching to LED lights in the borough.

Did you know? There are 249 street lights in town, with 49 of them incandescent. LED lights were tested and deemed to fit in well with the needs of the borough, including the fact that they use less energy and are cost-effective.

So, the replacement recommendation is to move forward with LED.

Borough Administrator Theresa Casagrande said she inquired about the upgrade cost to borough JCP&L and, somehow they said there would be a $500 fee for the upgrade, but that’s “not true.” The LED plan for “green and friendly going forward” is good, she said. JCP&L will be advised that the borough wants its burnt out lights to be changed to LED.

Special meeting date and bid for improvements to Hance Road and Cooney Terrace, Phase II project

Considering that bid for the revised plan for the improvements must be awarded no later than Nov. 21, per NJDOT grant guidelines, Mayor Halpern said that Nov. 15 would be the best date for him to hold another special meeting on the subject which would also be in time to get public comment input incorporated.

The grant, that the mayor has expressed he doesn’t want to see lost to the borough, is for $350,000 toward the improvements. There has been debate at meetings on whether the officials should be chasing grants for the sake of getting them or honing in on most needed projects first, then seeking grants to fund them. Halpern doesn’t want the grant money allocated elsewhere. (See his quotes below from last week’s special meeting on the subject.)

Fair Haven is known for being very proactive in grant acquisition and commended for it by the state.

Prior to the Nov. 15 special meeting, the plans for the project, being formulated now, will be ready for viewing by Friday morning, if not late Thursday, officials said. With the resolution to continue with revised plans and go out to bid approved last week, here’s what’s to be included in them, per the borough’s memo on the subject …

Communications

With more effective communications on the minds of residents and officials lately, suggestions for improvement in transparency and accurate funnelling were tossed out there.

Resident Ruth Blaser asked what ever happened to letters to council that used to be read at meetings? “Do you get them anymore?”

She is of the mind that “all correspondence should be part of council meeting so everyone knows what people are saying.” The problem with that is that “not everyone wants private correspondences read in public session,” Halpern said. “If you want it (a particular letter) read, we can do it,” but reading all letters “I don’t think would be beneficial or realistic. Ruth, thank you so much for your time. I very much appreciate it.”

Another idea, tossed out there by resident Melissa Fahoury is that of posting a short synopsis video weekly. “A quick video each week would be a good idea … synopsis of what’s going to be covered each week might get everyone engaged,” she said. And it could be farmed out to social media to track engagement and see how many people are being reached.

“I think that’s a very nice suggestion,” but, it’s a matter of who could do it, time, capability … “I don’t know if you want to see more of me on video
… my wife probably won’t.”

Fair Haven Mayor Joshua Halpern

Another suggestion was communicating via slide presentations with bulleted points to go through at meetings.

Trees, slides and pocket parks

Residents are still worried about tree downing, damage and longterm destruction to roots with road upgrades. Digging up any road, not just for building sidewalks, some have noted, causes degradation to the roots on otherwise healthy, environmentally friendly, not to mention old, solid trees in the borough.

Yes, the slides at the playground behind the Community Center will be fixed. It can’t be done piecemeal, though, officials said. The whole unit must be purchased. A recommendation from the Recreation Committee will be pt on the agenda for the net meeting. Once the purchase is approved, the equipment may take months to get, officials said.

Concerning impending construction near the site with the new facilities project and its effect, officials said that the replaced equipment could easily be moved until construction is completed … “anything to speed up replacing the standard equipment.”

There was praise for the “good conversation” among all at the recent land use meeting. More will be coming, including talk about plans for the riverfront pocket parks, affordable housing, and more zoning and planning improvement initiatives.

Little things that matter from last week’s special meeting …

The desire for an increased spirit of compromise and effective communication was expressed repeatedly in last week’s special meeting concerning amending the original proposal for sidewalk and road improvements to the Hance Road/Cooney Terrace loop. Mayor Halpern said he didn’t want to see the grant go to waste and time was ticking away.

“I appreciate passion of all involved … Regardless of how we got here, if we don’t get this grant the money, it goes back to the NJDOT. They will appropriate it to a different town. We’d be paying another town to improve themselves … The road does need to get paved … It needs improvement.”

Fair Haven Mayor Joshua Halpern on the
Hance Road/Cooney Terrace project

Some other quotes:

As the move was made to get receipt of bids for the revised improvements …

“It was a bumpy path to get here (to a pivot point). We came to great compromise, with a lot of effort and creativity involved. I wholeheartedly support motion made,” Borough Council President Chris Rodriguez said.

Sidewalks had been a point of contention and saving trees were and are still a major concern. Though it was noted that a certified arborist will be consulted on this project.

That made some residents happy, but they still cautioned that any short cuts must be avoided and authenticity of arborist certification verified. Easier, cheaper routes to completion of road projects have been pursued in the past, a resident cautioned, and with the disruption of roots in the process, eventually the result was a bunch of dead trees.

A Battin Road resident called attention to 44 Hance Road, where a large red oak stands and is recognized as largest of its kind in the state. “It’s magnificent,” she said, noting that trees are getting cut down right and left and that officials need to be careful when getting an arborist to “weigh in on all projects. Just because you cut down trees or are a tree company doesn’t mean you’re a certified arborist. You have to be careful when working with (around) trees, the equipment tugs at the roots. I hope the trees will stay.”

In all, improving the process of understanding projects and communicating the ins and outs more effectively was championed by all council members, who welcomed the new mayor

“I think we’re on the good side of things,” the mayor concluded.

The resolution to revise the plan and pursue bids on it by deadline was unanimously passed.

More of the same in a shorter version next meeting …

John Caroli
BCS Wealth Management