8/22/21 - In preparation for Hurricane Henri’s arrival
, I reached out to our OEM Director Rio Fasciano to discuss any additional services we may provide residents. At this time our DPW will be on standby for any storm related issues.
As always we ask that residents contact our Township Police Department for any assistance you may need during this event.
Please report any power outages/down lines to PSE&G
Text OUT to 4PSEG (47734), report it online, through their app, with Amazon's Alexa or Google Assistant device or call 1-800-436-PSEG (7734).
Check your elderly neighbors and keep travel to a minimum as the excessive rain and winds can create unforeseen hazards. Stay safe.
8/6/21 - EMS Building Report
- I am happy to share the attached reports regarding the new Emergency Services building (see here
) . Hard copies of the reports are being delivered to the households within a 200 foot radius. I hope in reading the reports it alleviates the concerns that have been expressed by some of the residents.
As stated in my cover letter, any other concerns should be directed to the Administrator to avoid any miscommunication. The professionals on site as well as fire or ambulance personnel have no authority to answer questions or make changes.
Mr. Robert Tovo may be reached via email here
8/2/21 - Cigar / Vape Shop Sign
- The town has taken action on the Cigar/Vape Shop sign that was placed in a storefront window. The attached letter was written by our Zoning Officer Joe Setticase on July 23, and served to the shopping center owner on the same date. The first summons requesting a court appearance was written this past week. At this time no use or change of use application for a Cigar/Vape Shop has been received by either the zoning or planning boards.
The town has two applicable ordinances (580-11.1 and 580-62) that prohibit vape product sales in town and prohibit a vape selling retail use.
8/1/21 - Franklin Court / Swim Club Response -
Good afternoon, I would like to address a few topics based around the Franklin Court/Swim Club stories published in the Pascack Press
Regarding Franklin Court. I did welcome them during the Mayors Annual Breakfast meeting of 2020. The project was already approved via our most recent Fair Share Housing agreement and as such they will be held to all applicable land use laws consistent with a Fair Share Housing project. In welcoming them I was only attempting to establish a positive working relationship. I did also mention the potential burdens including financial that projects which are forced upon all NJ municipalities will put on our local school systems. It infuriates me that people in remote reaches of government have the authority to usurp well established local zoning laws in communities they are not familiar with and have never even visited. One of my many motivations for becoming mayor is to retain and preserve the single family residential quality of life we enjoy here!
Regarding the Swim Club. I clearly did not place the BLAME for the vote at the feet of Councilmen Cascio and DeSena. I said I was told by some of the club officers that it was a DECIDING FACTOR for them. There is a big difference between that statement and blaming them. To give the reader the full picture, I also summarized how each Council member voted both times the vote took place that week.
Councilman DeSena is quoted as saying “turnout was low and that the administration’s lack of vision for a pool operation beyond two years, including its lack of interest in a feasibility study, were reason members voted not to entrust the club to the township”. This statement is not consistent with the facts as I know them. During the negotiations I was told the members first priority was to make certain that a purchaser would try to make the pool a viable use for the property. That is why the two years would have been part of the township’s purchase agreement. I am very concerned whether the contract purchaser has made the same or longer arrangement in their agreement. It’s also worth noting that numerous times I made it clear that if the town pool could not be made at least expense neutral at the end of that time we would have to reevaluate it as we would be spending taxpayer money to make up any shortfalls.
Finally, on this topic, I find it notable that Councilman DeSena would say anything about the two years, as he wanted us to purchase the property without any swim club contingency at all. He is again quoted later in the article stating “DeSena said he would vote for the club’s acquisition if the agreement stipulated that the pool would be immediately shut down…”. As I have said many times in the past, I was told by the board that any offer made without a stipulation to continue the operation of the pool would be unacceptable. And again, the last statement of the article states he was “contemplating all my pros and cons going through my head. [I’m] really not in favor of running the pool but if that’s what it’s got to be for two years, I’ll vote yes. With all of that said and the fact that he changed his vote, I stated on my Facebook page “Councilman Desena then voted yes but made it clear he did NOT support any efforts to make a town pool viable. It showed a lack of commitment to the terms of the purchase and the vision that so many of our residents and constituents expressed and shared.” I did and still do believe that is an accurate statement.
Next the article states “Mr. Mayor, you are a liar. That would be my quote” DeSena concluded. I saw Councilman DeSena at the Township 3/4 Girls Falcons softball championship game vs. River Edge (I’m happy to report they won with a final score of 8–5). When we met he asked how things were going, to which I responded they were going good except for seeing he was quoted as calling me a liar. He immediately denied that he called me a liar. Being called a liar is a significant accusation. I know that if someone attributed that quote to me, I would be livid and do all I could to correct it! I would therefore respectfully request Mr. Desena or the Pascack Press
publicly and enthusiastically clarify or retract that accusation.
In closing, I want to take this opportunity again to thank everyone for taking the time to read this and for your support. I have never and will never lie to you about anything. It is just not who I am. Once again, I became mayor to do all I can to make the town I love and and believe in, the best town it can be. Our residents deserve that level of honesty and integrity and I want to provide that to you. Your support and the work we do together to achieve that goal means everything to me.
7/31/21 - 44 Pascack Road Clarification -
Once again, I need to set the record straight. And I will ask those who have accused me of lying to be as quick to clear my name and do it with the same enthusiasm with which they attempted to trash and discredit it.
The property being discussed in the email referenced in the Pascack Press
was NOT the Swim Club, but was in fact 44 Pascack Road, or what I used to refer to as the horse farm.
Acquiring this property for DPW use was very publicly discussed and debated around that time. It was even discussed among many people on Facebook back then. A feasibility study was conducted. It’s in the record from council meetings. And Mr. Cascio was well aware of it and should have clarified it for the reporters he provided it to. He owes many people an apology if he mislead them into thinking it referenced the swim club and therefore was incorporated into an article about the swim club property. Also in the email was Councilman DeSena’s very enthusiastic response where he approves and endorses buying the Pascack Road property! I also respectfully request that Councilman Desena publicly acknowledge and go on record that he was aware of the fact that the email was referencing 44 Pascack Road and NOT the swim club.
Now the record has again been made clear. Now I have refuted and discredited the accusation that I lied about not putting the DPW at the swim club. I have again shown and explained the FACTS.
I am also offended at being accused of not responding to a request for comment regarding an email string from August 2019. I have an email from reporter Snyder on July 14th of this year stating, “I would like to continue our discussion on the 2019 email thread, as that will be part of our story, but that's not as timely as your immediate reaction to the swim club board's vote.”. I spoke to reporter Olohan a couple of times this past week on this swim club story. If the Press wanted a comment on the DPW all he had to was ask while we were on the phone. He did not. That does not mean I declined to comment. Perhaps if he asked me about it, I could have explained it and avoided all this.
I understand politics can be nasty. I understand this is a local election year. I understand people will attempt to spin information to suit their needs. But I ask the people of Washington Township to look at the facts. I am committed to making this town the best it can be, and I work hard every day in pursuit of that goal. What I do I do with that always in mind. People may disagree with me. Healthy disagreement is productive. But I do not lie, and accusing me of lying and spreading blatant and deliberate lies about me and what I do and say, when the people who spread them are well aware that they are lies, is just wrong. I question the motivation of those who do it. And I hope you will question their credibility and motivations as well.
7/28/21 - Westwood Rec Fees
- Westwood is continuing to charge our residents out of town fees directly or indirectly through privately run recreational programs. The following letter was sent to their Council, our Council, and the members of our Rec Advisory Board earlier this evening, respectfully asking them to refund the out of town fees charged thus far and to work together towards a fair and appropriate agreement.
July 28, 2021 Westwood Council 101 Washington Ave Westwood, NJ 07675
Hello Councilmembers, I hope this letter finds you and the residents of Westwood well and enjoying the summer.
As our programs begin accepting fall registrations, I would like to bring to your attention some things about your recently changed ordinance as it regards to charging of out-of-town rates to Washington Township participants in the Rec programs.
As you may be aware, discussions took place between me and other Township Officials regarding a Shared Service Agreement that was proposed by Westwood Officials. The terms of the Shared Services Agreement were a proposed flat $20,000 payment from Washington Township to Westwood to cover “additional and extra costs” associated with the participation of Washington Township residents in the Westwood programs. It was stated that some of the extra costs are Mowing, Seeding, Clay, Irrigation, Irrigation maintenance, Lighting and Electric costs as well as administrative costs. Unfortunately, no detailed cost breakdown for these increases was ever provided. No comparison of these costs from one year to the next based on the increased participation was provided. It was never made clear if the $20,000 was based on a true cost increase breakdown or a perceived increase in expenses due to increased participation.
I nonetheless presented the proposal to both the Township’s Recreation Board and Council members, who both declined the request.
Washington Township is certainly open to Shared Services Agreements that are appropriate and accommodate the needs of both municipalities. However, it is my firm conviction that Shared Services are and should be between municipalities sharing in expenses to provide a given service or level of service to each of their respective residents. I do not believe Shared Services should create a situation of one municipality profiting in any way from the other.
It was reported in the Pascack Press as stated in one of your meetings there are 367 Township children in Westwood Rec programs. 367 x $25 = $9,175. That means the $20,000 Shared Services Agreement represents more than double the cost of the usual out-of-town fee and would therefore result in a profit for Westwood of over $10,000.
The out-of-town charge was proposed and implemented less than a year after we, in good
faith, combined the football and cheer programs. At that time, it was agreed this was for the mutual benefit and feasibility of both programs. To the best of my knowledge, no increased costs due to participation levels were suggested or discussed. Lastly, some of the programs use our Regional School District facilities that both towns’ residents already pay for.
Considering all of the above, I respectfully request that the Westwood Council reconsider the issue and reverse the out-of-town fee for Township residents and refund any fees that have already been collected, until more dialogue can take place and more information can be provided to come to a mutually agreeable arrangement.
7/26/21 - EMS Building Concerns -
I have been looking into many of the concerns brought up at the Council Meeting regarding the new Emergency Services Building. I would like to thank those that appeared and took the time to raise these concerns. I will be addressing each of them going forward as I get more information.
First, I would like to clarify that in checking with the Town Clerk, it was confirmed that notification letters were sent to the residents within 200 feet of the existing Firehouse property back in 2019 as shown by the accompanying documents she provided. (Please see attached) Although the information is public, out of respect for our residents privacy I have chosen not to publish the full list of names and addresses. However, upon request, it can be obtained by sending an Open Public Record Request - OPRA - to the Clerk.
Since the project is a function of the Town Government, it did not require Zoning or Planning Board approval. It was scheduled and discussed and open for public hearing and questions at Council Meetings where it was on the agenda. The Council is responsible for all Council Meeting proceedings and functions and the Council President is responsible for the meeting agendas. The responsibility for notification of topics being discussed at meetings was with the Council and then Council President Desena. Therefore, any additional questions regarding the notifications should be directed to Councilman DeSena.
7/24/21 - Swim Club Vote -
I was informed by the Washington Township Recreation Club that a final vote on the sale of the property took place and their Members accepted another offer. Obviously I, and I am sure a great majority of residents will share in my disappointment by this decision. The offer the town made was exactly what the Board asked for. I am, however, proud and grateful for the level of enthusiasm and motivation shown by the public in contacting the elected officials to express their opinions.
It also bears mentioning that I was informed a deciding factor in their choice was the underwhelming interest and enthusiasm and apparent lack of commitment shown by some council members during the council’s vote to acquire the property and make a good faith effort to make a town pool viable. Council members Feeney, Morgan and Sears were firmly in favor of the purchase. Councilman Cascio voted no twice. councilman DeSena initially voted no on the first vote when he thought is was the final vote. I then asked the swim club for an extension and the second vote was taken. Councilman Desena then voted yes but made it clear he did NOT support any efforts to make a town pool viable. It showed a lack of commitment to the terms of the purchase and the vision that so many of our residents and constituents expressed and shared.
I am concerned that although the club did not sell the property to a developer, there may be nothing in the agreement or the deed that would prevent or protect our community from such a sale in the future.
Any further questions, comments and concerns regarding the sale should be specifically directed to the Club.
Again, I encourage residents to always have your voices heard on all topics and continue contacting your elected officials regarding the future of YOUR town.
7/12/21 - Town Hall News
I am happy to report that Town Hall fully reopened to the public last week. The secure drop box will remain in front of the building, and it will continue to be checked multiple times per day, so please feel free to continue to use it for simple correspondence such as tax payments. We are looking forward to seeing the Seniors return to their part of the building, and I understand they are too.
Weekly Garden debris pickups are well underway and trimming or roadside trees and brush is also taking place.
Monthly household debris was picked up the week of June 7th. This Week,
starting today July 12th,
is the next scheduled pickup of household debris. So, if you have not already, check your calendars for what day pickup is scheduled for your zone.
The next pickup of white goods and metal items is July 22nd. If you have any items that you would like to be picked up – please be sure to call the DPW to get added to the schedule.
They have recently installed benches for the players at the basketball courts at both Memorial and Gardner fields.
The lights at Memorial Field have been replaced and they had the desired effect of improving the nighttime visibility, making the field safe for use at night.
The staff assists with our Movie at Memorial night events.
And they rescued a deer that got trapped in a storm drain inlet. Thanks go out to the resident who made them aware of the situation.
A Purchase Order has been issued for the new Lightning Detection System Base unit. As soon as it is installed and synced with the individual remote units we will find out if any of them need to be replaced.
Attorney Poller will update the Council tonight during closed session on the property at 450 Pascack Road.
Land acquisition for the Intersection project is ongoing. This is a necessary but undesirable part of improving the intersection, as you can all imagine. We have been able to secure agreements with all but one of the property owners.
Public Affairs News
We had our first two Movie at Memorial nights with three more to come on July 23rd
, August 6th,
and August 27th
. The new owners of Township Theater have been helpful and are a pleasure to work with. They have been assisting us with the events. Please treat yourself to a movie there soon. One of the owners grew up in Wash Twp.
We are excited to announce that the popular B Street Band will be returning to town on August 13th
for our one and only Summer Concert this year! We are looking forward to this night when we can all come out as a community again and enjoy some fantastic live music. Gates open at 6:30 and the showtime is at 7:30. I want to give a shout-out to Pete Neary for approaching me with the idea this year. I immediately put him in touch with Public Affairs Director Daisy Velez and before I knew it, they had secured the County Show mobile and the band for the date. Parking for the event will again be at the Bethany Community Center … Thank you Bethany. Your continued support has been so beneficial for the town, and it is appreciated. So spread the word to your friends and neighbors and join us some great, FREE entertainment and good old-fashioned socializing. Some of our local food merchants will even be putting together food and drink specials to go along with the event. Be sure to check it out.
Hosting great events like this is definitely the fun part of this job. Providing opportunities for residents to spend their precious free time together in-town enjoying good music and seeing familiar faces are what makes this the type of community we love and are proud to be part of.
What we have all been through this past year has opened our eyes to many things. We like to hope that the unimaginable will not happen – but we have to be prepared in case it does. What I am referencing here is the importance of maintaining the township Trust accounts at a healthy level and why they should not be drained, or why we have charged nominal fees for some of the attractions at a few of our events. Most of the events we are doing this year are being paid for from the money in the Trust Fund. This year – the year when it is appropriate to do so. The year that has been tough for most businesses and residents. This year when it would be inappropriate to ask them to dig deeper into their pockets. This year when we are proud to be able to put on much-needed events for community because we did not spend down the trust fund and it is in place NOW when we need it.
Looking ahead, Daisy is working on Town Day and putting a 5k run event together. Stay tuned for more updates.
The library has new operating hours. They are
• Mondays - 9am - 8pm • Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Thursdays - 9am - 6pm • Fridays- 9am - 5pm • Saturdays- 9am - 12pm
The capacity limits are lifted, so all hours are now open browsing and there are no more time limits on patrons. They are requesting that masks still be worn inside the library at all times. They are attempting to continue offering curbside pickup for those who may need it, but it will be on an "as able" basis. As of Friday June 25th
summer reading programs for all ages are in full effect and will be taking place outdoors.
Fire Department News
They have received training on the use of the new bail-out harnesses that many members are now carrying on their gear.
During the month of June, they responded to approximately 20 calls, one of which was a car fire in Hillsdale where we assisted them by supplying their truck with another tank of water.
Now that the budget has passed we can move ahead with ordering the equipment to support the new Radio System for the Police, Fire, and Ambulance departments. As a reminder, we waited to place the order until the County completed work on their new tower in Paramus so we could test equipment using that tower. As I have stated in previous reports, those tests went extremely well. It was worth the wait when spending such a large amount of money to make sure the system would work as anticipated.
Many people from the department participated in the Chief for a day event. This year’s Chief was our own Frankie Aiello. Please check the Police Facebook page for more information and pictures.
On June 6th
three of our finest responded to a call of a possible narcotic overdose. Upon arrival the person was not breathing. The officers administered two doses of Narcan and revived the person. We commend the officers for their life saving work.
Our Summer Rec program is off to a great start! Bethany had some work done on their pool that required inspections, so that delayed the start in using it. I am happy to report that the pool passed all its inspections last week and is ready for use. I am sure the kids will be excited.
Councilwoman Morgan has started a new Cheerleading program that I am sure she will speak about in her report.
Boswell Engineering has drafted the Townships’ updated Stormwater Pollution Prevention SP3 Plan and is working with the Township and DPW in finalizing the plan.
They have completed the work on the 2019 2020 Road Improvement Program and are currently preparing documents for final NJDOT Grant Reimbursement.
The 2021 Road Improvement Program has been advertised for bids due tomorrow, July 13, 2021 at 11AM. The scope of the work includes the following roads for which the Township has received grants from the NJDOT:
FY 2020 Grant of $200,000 for improvements to Ridgewood Road from East Glen Avenue to Linwood Avenue, and;
FY 2021 Grant of $210,000 for improvements to Hudson Avenue, Bridge Street & the Municipal Complex Parking Area.
We have received the first installment payment of $480,000 from the American Rescue Plan. The auditors have told us that we can use $235,000 of the money for unrealized revenue due to Covid. That money will go into surplus to defray future tax increases to our residents. We await further guidance on the other permissible uses of the money.