Tuesday, December 12, 2017

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FiOS, environmental and other issues discussed at town council meeting

The Mayor and Town Council met for their second public meeting of the month on January 24 in Chamber I at Town Hall. All council members and Mayor Mike Gonnelli were present, except for Third Ward Councilwoman Susan Pirro who participated via telephone. On the subject of telephones, Mark Bocchieri, director of external affairs for Verizon in Hackensack, started the meeting on an upbeat note when he told the governing body that FiOS (Fiber Optic Service) is definitely coming to Secaucus. He thanked the mayor and council for approving an ordinance that gives Verizon authority to use streets, roads, and other public ways in Secaucus in order for the communications giant to bring FIOS to town. Bocchieri further explained that ductwork emanating from Verizon’s Union City facility will begin to be brought into Secaucus and for residents to watch for Verizon trucks that would be visible in town in the coming months.

The mayor and council have been plagued by residents’ complaints of poor cable service for many years. Repeated attempts by the town to have Verizon install FiOS have finally paid off. (Outlying town areas with new construction, i.e., Xchange, Osprey were built with FiOS in place.)

Former school board president and now First Ward Councilman John Gerbasio confirmed that testing for lead contamination in the water system at the district’s new school at 40 Mill Ridge Road showed no lead. Gerbasio, whose wife, Kathy, is a school nurse and chairman of the town’s Board of Health, reported that February is “Heart Health Month.” He stressed that elderly and/or ill residents contact the Secaucus High School office if they need their sidewalks cleared of snow. The school has a list of students who will shovel. Councilman Rob Costantino urged residents to be wary of fraudulent schemes this time of year (income tax season). “The IRS will never call you on the phone,” he emphasized. “They will always send a letter.” Mayor Gonnelli reappointed Fred Vogel as a commissioner on the Secaucus Municipal Utilities Authority. This was the mayor’s appointment; a vote by council members was not needed.

The property manager for Oster Plaza Properties, Eden Kongoli, was presented with a “Commitment to Serve” plaque in recognition of his “commitment and support in the beautification of the central shopping center in the Town of Secaucus.”

Amanda Nesheiwat, Director of the town’s Environmental Department, updated the council on various programs. She said a $24,000 Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) grant is being utilized to install four electric car charging stations in various locations throughout town: at the Secaucus Public Library, Secaucus Recreation Center on Koelle Boulevard, the municipal lot between Irving and Centre, and at Town Hall. Another DEP grant, in the amount of $23,750, was used to purchase a food recycling machine called the “Rocket Composter.” This will be used at Secaucus High School. Another grant, this one from Walmart for $1,000, is for the Environmental Department’s “Pollinator Program,” or, as Nesheiwat put it, for “the birds, bats, bees, and butterflies!” Another program, in conjunction with Schneider Electric, entails energy audits of all municipal buildings to determine their energy efficiency.

Mayor Gonnelli chimed in on another program that Nesheiwat reported on. The program, “New Jersey Comfort Partners Program,” is supported by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) and the New Jersey Clean Energy Program and is for income-eligible homeowners and tenants. Residents who are eligible for HEAP, USF, Section 8, PAAD, SSI/D, or LIFELINE may take advantage of this program that inspects homes and apartments for energy conservation issues, including refrigerators, roof repairs, attic and wall insulation, and boiler repairs or replacements, etc. The income eligibility guidelines are: one person, annual income of $26,730; two people, $36,045; three, $45,360, and four, $54,675. “We have to get the word out on this,” urged Mayor Gonnelli. The town’s Social Services Department may be contacted on this program at (201) 330-2014.

A moment of silence was observed for retired police Captain John Buckley who passed away in January.

The next meeting of the Mayor and Town Council will be on Tuesday, February 14 (Valentine’s Day). Bring your sweetheart and see how your town government works!

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