At Tuesday night’s Town Council meeting, the council members voted to introduce an ordinance that changes some of the requirements to be a volunteer firefighter in the town.
Secaucus does not have a paid fire department, but instead works with an all- volunteer department whose members get stipends for responding to a certain number of fires.
In the past, applicants had to be a U.S. citizen. But the ordinance – which is up for a final vote Dec. 20 — would also allow anyone who has legal status in this country, like those with visas, as members.
The current ordinance requires members to have a valid New Jersey driver’s license. The new ordinance would include a motor vehicle record check.
There is only one council meeting next month, on Dec. 20.
Suspending street sweeping, meters
The council also passed a resolution to suspend parking meters in town for December, in order to provide greater convenience for holiday shoppers.
On a similar note, street sweeping will also be suspended from Dec. 18 through March 19, an annual occurrence to give municipal workers a break during the coldest winter months. “The sweepers can’t easily get around,” during those months, according to Town Administrator Gary Jeffas. “We don’t make it mandatory that people move their cars.”
FEMA money will go toward barge repair
Also at the meeting, Councilman Robert Costantino shared that Secaucus recently received its final reimbursement monies from FEMA for Hurricane Sandy damages.
The $300,870 payment went towards removing and dredging a barge by the Secaucus Public Safety Marina. Located on the Hackensack River, the marina serves both the Secaucus Fire Department Marine Unit and the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 32. New docks near the marina have replaced the barge.
The barge had needed repairs before Sandy, but Sandy damaged it beyond repair, officials said. The barge’s previous state, along with debris from Sandy, left the area with severe sedimentation, making it difficult for boats to use the marina.
In total, for all of the Sandy damages, FEMA’s reimbursement to the town was $1,074,360, Costantino said.
“It was a lot of money to come back into the budget,” Costantino said. Regarding repairs the town has done after the storm, “Some areas improved in town, some areas went back to what they were before.”
The money also went toward overtime for municipal workers after the storm, and damages to municipal properties.
“There’s value put on the hours the trucks were used, the fuel and everything,” Costantino said after the meeting. “We calculated the cost of everything that was affected.”
The council received assistance from a former FEMA worker, named April Lee, who helped the town file damage claims. “She helped us get a lot of money back,” Mayor Michael Gonnelli said.
The town still stands to receive more reimbursement from other sources, said Town Administrator Gary Jeffas.
Mother claims daughter suffered concussion during soccer game
During the portion of the meeting for the public to speak out, a local mother claimed that her daughter sustained a concussion and whiplash from an accident at a recreational soccer game at Shetik Field on Nov. 12, and that coaches didn’t help. She asked if the town’s recreation coaches are trained to handle such emergencies.
“My daughter got whaled in the back of the head,” said the resident. “The referee did not stop the game; the coach did not stop the game, nothing. My daughter played for 45 minutes afterwards. My daughter has been out of school since then. No ambulance was ever called.”
The mother said she was forced to take her daughter to a children’s hospital in New York City later.
She said her daughter returned to school the day of the meeting.
She inquired as to whether or not the town’s travel soccer game coaches and referees are trained to recognize concussion symptoms in their players.
Gonnelli responded that the officials do have such credentials.
“I think you guys need to re-look at it, and have the guys go through the training again,” the woman responded.
She also claimed at another travel game in town, a girl passed out on the field, but no EMTs were called.
“Somebody should’ve stopped the game,” Gonnelli said, in response to the mother’s comments. “We’ll look into it right away.”
Local citizen brings up councilman’s criminal case
Longtime Gonnelli political opponent Tom Troyer brought up a criminal charge that was filed against Costantino in October for an incident near his home on Sep. 23. The charge stemmed from a car accident in which the police said Costantino gave them inaccurate information (see prior stories at hudsonreporter.com).
Costantino’s exact charges from that incident include hindering and giving false information to a law enforcement officer.
Troyer said, “I would like to know the truth. It’s a sin to tell a lie, which is true. But it’s a crime to tell a lie to a policeman who’s writing a report.”
Costantino originally had a hearing scheduled for Kearny Municipal Court Nov. 9, but it was eventually rescheduled. Troyer came to the court that day for the hearing.
“You can show up to that same courthouse, on December 14,” Costantino replied. Costantino later confirmed to the Secaucus Reporter that his new court date is Dec. 14.
Where to donate food and toys for the needy
The Secaucus Food Pantry is collecting canned soup and other non-perishable foods for January and February, according to Gerbasio. The donations go to local needy families.
Donations can be brought to the Senior Center at 101 Centre Ave.
Remax Reality and the Gonnelli Group are also holding a Christmas toy drive through Dec. 15. If you’d like to donate toys for needy kids, call 201-355-6650.
Kids’ Night Out
The Secaucus Recreation Center will host another Kids’ Night Event Dec. 15, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m, according to Councilman William McKeever. Parents can drop off their kids for two hours, at a cost of $5 per child.
Children, ages 5 to 14 will be able to view the “Minions” movie. The Center is located at 1200 Koelle Blvd. Parents can sign up through the Community Pass.
Don’t speed around these signs!
Councilman John Gerbasio gave a nod to the town’s traffic division for monitoring driving speeds through town. He noted that the division places electronic signs around town asking people to slow down. The signs also double as radar units, counting the number of vehicles coming by, their speed, and times they go by.
Energy audit and battery recycling
The council plans to work with Secaucus Environmental Director Amanda Nesheiwat on participation in the state’s Local Government Energy Audit program, according to Councilman James Clancy. Twenty-one municipal buildings will be part of the program, which hopes to reduce energy costs.
It should begin next month, according to the council. “We hope to save a considerable amount of money on energy,” Clancy said. After the audits, the town will receive recommendations on what they can do to increase their energy efficiency.
The Secaucus Environmental Program is also introducing a battery and electronic recycling program, Clancy added.
They will place green boxes to collect the items at Town Hall, the Recreation Center, Secaucus Public Library, Secaucus High School, and Clarendon School, among other locations. Call Nesheiwat at 201-864-7336 for more information.
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