Everyone else was hunkered down, safe and sound in their homes and apartments last Tuesday (3/14) evening. The blizzard predicted for that day brought the wind and whiteout conditions, but, only 7-8 inches of snow, not the 1-2 feet all were expecting. A dangerous coating of ice on the snow made for treacherous driving and walking. We decided early on not to venture out that day, and were surprised when we learned that the regular meeting of the Mayor and Town Council scheduled for seven o’clock that evening was still on!
Council members and Mayor Mike Gonnelli gathered at Town Hall for what we learned was only a 10 minute meeting, just long enough to approve the introduction of several ordinances, the adoption of two ordinances, and the approval of several resolutions. One of the resolutions was to make an offer on a foreclosure located at 148 Centre Avenue directly next to Engine Co. 3 firehouse (Chicora Park). Mayor Gonnelli said the town will offer $350,000 for the property. If successful in purchasing the house, the town would raze it and make a parking lot with 7-8 spaces for use by the volunteer firefighters. A similar situation occurred on Seventh Street when a house adjacent to Tower 2 fire company became available through foreclosure. The town has already knocked down the house and a parking lot will be created using Department of Public Works manpower. Parking is at a premium in many sections of town; when firemen arrive at their firehouses in response to emergency calls, they often find it impossible to park their private vehicles and sometimes have to block driveways so they can quickly man the fire trucks and respond to a fire, accident, or whatever emergency they are called to.
Another tantalizing piece of news we learned in our brief talk with Mayor Gonnelli is that the town will be taking over the building it owns on the corner of Centre Avenue and John Street that has housed the Secaucus Board of Education for many years. The town has generously permitted the school board to use the property without charging rent. Gonnelli said the board will probably be moving its offices back to Clarendon School where it was once located. He said that he would like to knock down the 20 Centre Avenue house to make room for much-needed parking for Town Hall. The school board will be vacating its current location at the end of the school year in June.
The elevator at Town Hall has been down for quite a while, prompting the tax collector’s office to be moved temporarily to the first floor to accommodate residents who pay their taxes in person. (The tax office is on the third floor.) Town Hall employees and visitors must use the stairs to access the second through third floors of the building while the elevator, which is as old as the Town Hall, has been non-operational. Town Administrator Gary Jeffas explained that once the problem was diagnosed by EMCO, the town’s elevator service contractor, the part in question had to be ordered and manufactured, hence the repair delay. “It’s not off the shelf,” Jeffas noted. Also, the hole where the part goes had to be widened in its circumfrence so the new part will fit. The elevator should become fully operational in the next few weeks. Some will welcome the return of the elevator, and some like Jeffas, the Mayor, and this reporter will continue to take the stairs! school year in June. We also learned from Schools’ Superintendent Kenneth Knops that at a special board meeting on March 16, the school trustees unanimously approved the school budget. Since the budget is under the two percent cap, residents do not have to vote on it. The budget was sent to the county superintendent for approval.
The elevator should become fully operational in the next few weeks. Some will welcome the return of the elevator, and some like Jeffas, the Mayor, and this reporter will continue to take the stairs!