At last night’s first council meeting of 2013, Mayor McCarthy declared the long-awaited downtown redevelopment has officially begun, starting with the construction of the parking garage that is a central element of the project. He said the garage is due to be completed by the end of next month.
He also lauded the performance of the township departments during and after Superstorm Sandy, pointing out that the DPW had removed over 100 fallen trees, 25 of which had fallen on residents’ houses.
He thanked Municipal Clerk Louise Palagano for responding to numerous OPRA (Open Public Record Act) requests during the past year, some of which, he said, were made “for all the wrong reasons,” apparently referring to the many requests that had come in over the past months pertaining to the Health Department.
He praised the police and fire departments for their performance during the past year. In addition to responding to fires during the year, he said members of the fire department made 6800 visits to provide fire safety inspections and education to prevent future fires. The police responded to more than 25,000 calls for service, which translates to about 70 responses per day.
Each department was cited for various accomplishments, including the library, which served more than 240,000 people during 2012.
Referring to the tragic shooting in Newtown, CT, McCarthy said “we need to protect our children” and that there are school resource officers in both the Middle School and High School. In addition, he said officers had undergone two training sessions in 2012 to train them to respond appropriately to any attacks that might occur.
McCarthy finished by stating that the members of the governing body must work together for the betterment of the community, saying, “There is only one boss that we answer to, and that is the people of Bloomfield.”
A number of local political leaders were present at last night’s meeting, including State Senator Ronald Rice, Assemblyman Ralph Caputo and Assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker, and Essex County Freeholders Brendon Gill and Rufus Johnson.
In other business, two new police officers, Glenn Capito and Anthony Nardiello, were sworn in, and Michael Sceurman was appointed to the Bloomfield Cultural Committee.
Councilman Bernard Hamilton read a proclamation declaring January 21, 2013 as Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and Mayor McCarthy read a proclamation designating January 11 as Human Trafficking Awareness day.
During the public comment period, Pat Gilleran reminded the mayor and council that she had submitted a list of alleged ethics violations made by the Health Department and the Bloomfield Animal Shelter and asked if they had read them yet. Mayor McCarthy said they had not yet investigated the concerns. Gilleran also urged the council not to allow the Board of Health to avoid New Jersey “pay to play” rules by turning management of the animal shelter over to the nonprofit organization, Neighbor to Neighbor Network, without a public RFP. The BOH had voted to turn over shelter management to the NTNN at their December meeting.
The next meeting of the Bloomfield Council will be a conference meeting to be held in the second floor conference room in the Law Enforcement Building at 7 p.m. on Monday, January 14, 2013.