Mayor’s Update – Emergency Services, PSE&G Complaint, Council Workshops, The 2012 Budget and ShopRite/James Street Discussions
I. Update from Council Meeting held on November 15th.
At the Council Meeting last week, the City decided to have Englewood Hospital and Medical Center join forces with the Englewood Volunteer Ambulance Corps (“EVAC”) to delivery emergency medical services to all residents of Englewood. This was one of my initiatives upon taking office as Mayor and it is a win-win for all of us to have these excellent Englewood institutions working as one to deliver the highest quality of emergency care and services. This new joint healthcare delivery system will lower cost and maintain the high quality of emergency services. For more information click here for the news article on emergency services as reported in the Bergen Record.
II. Complaint filed with the Board of Public Utilities against PSEG.
On November 13th, I filed a formal complaint with the Board of Public Utilities against PSE&G for the utility company to drastically improve its protocols and communication efforts with the City’s Office of Emergency Management during the critical emergency period after a power outage and to improve its time period to timely mobilize repair crews and restore electricity. Currently, PSE&G does not provide any communications during these critical periods which has resulted in a public safety hazard. The last storm in October left over 7,500 residents without power and our Police, Fire and Public Works departments were without electricity for four days. This was the third time our residents were faced with power outages for almost a week in less than two years. It is unconscionable that in this day and age, residents, first responders and schools are without power for a week after the storm and worst yet are unable to obtain any information from PSEG to timely deal with emergency situations. Please click here for the Complaint. If PSEG does not want to do better on its own, the Board of Public Utilities must step in to provide better oversight of the state’s largest utility.
III. Council Workshops.
As Council President, I changed the way council workshops where handled by prior council leadership. I instituted a new policy of holding council workshops at least one week prior to voting sessions of the council to promote an open door policy to our residents. In the past, council workshops were held on the same night of voting sessions leaving sometimes less than minutes before the council would take official action and left little time for our residents to be informed about the important matters of the City. Now, the public has the time and information prior to voting sessions for the public to be fully informed and to effectively participates at council meetings. For more information about participating and being informed click here and go to www.englewoodone.com.
IV. Council Workshop Agenda for November 22nd.
A. 2012 Budget Discussion
On Tuesday, the City Manager and I will present to the Council the 2012 Budget Process to be implemented in the adoption of the 2012 Budget. For more information on the State of the City’s Financial Condition, click here for the full report on the Mayor’s Commission on Budget and Finance.
B. ShopRite and James Street Discussion
The ShopRite owners will discuss their revised proposed plan for the expansion of the ShopRite store to better service our community and to continue to serve as an economic anchor to the downtown. They will also present a proposed residential plan for James Street for consideration by the Council and the community. James Street runs from Palisades Ave. at the corner near the Group USA stores and the Rite Aid Pharmacy to Demarest Street where St. Celica is located.
Last year, the prior Council leadership and several council members approved an ordinance to build high density housing of approximately 120 rental apartments on this one way street which is zoned for mostly single family homes. I was against this type of high density housing that required a change in zoning by the City Council and still remain against it. Over my objection at the time, the Council submitted the ordinance to the Planning Board for consideration and review. The Planning Board, on which I am a member, rejected the Ordinance as the development plan was ill prepared and failed to address the needs of the community and recognize the fiber and character of this neighborhood.
Over the course of this year, I scheduled public meetings and held several meetings with the residents, professionals and City staff to discuss how best to improve the neighborhood. The days when developers tell the City what is good and what we should accept are long gone! It is a new day and it is the City‘s job to determine what is best for planning for today and for the future of our City.
I am pleased that the large residential development is out the door not to be seen or heard from ever again. Those who participated in all the public meetings in 2010 and 2011 witnessed the evolution from the ill fated massive James Street residential redevelopment to the soon to be presented proposed small single family home project on both sides of the street.
At the Tuesday meeting, the ShopRite owners will, in keeping with the needs and requests of our community, present a plan to develop a maximum of 6 or 8 single family homes from Palisades Avenue to Tallman Place on the East Side of James Street and to develop 3 single family homes on the West Side of James Street on the property it currently owns and zoned for single family homes. All lots will be proposed to conform to the existing zoning requirements of a minimum lot area of 6,500 feet. There will be no requests for zoning changes on the east or west side of James Street to permit multi residential housing, and more importantly, the proposed development of 3 single family homes on the West side of the street will enhance the character and integrity of this neighborhood on both sides of the street as single family residences all privately owned.
By talking to so many residents on the future of James Street I have heard their views and I urge all to attend this council workshop meeting, speak up and participate in this open discussion. This workshop meeting is for discussion purposes and public participation only. No official action will be taken Tuesday night. Additional meetings will be scheduled.
Join us, be informed and participate.