goleader.com - Union County, NJ Newspapers 97sep11

scotch plains nj
Township Council to Hold Meeting With Green Brook Task Force Head

By JEANNE WHITNEY Specially Written for The Times

The Scotch Plains Township Council agreed during a conference meeting last week to meet with Chairman of the Green Brook Flood Control Task Force, Frank Meeks, 3rd, next week.

The task force came about as a result of Union County objections to two proposed storm water detention basins in the Watchung Reservation which are part of a $362 million project to stem flooding in lower lying regions. The proposed basins will cover seven acres of the 2,002 acres of the county-owned reservation.

Township Councilman Robert E. Johnston was clear about his support for the so-called upper portion of the project, stating, "the water must be detained up at the top of the mountains."

The proposed basins are one element of a three-part flow control strategy that also includes building earthen levees and deepening water channels throughout the Green Brook sub-basin region, in an effort to avert severe flooding and damage as has happened in the past.

Councilman Johnston also pointed to concerns about sewerage system pipes running below waterways slated for modifications, but added that local sewerage authorities are in touch with the Green Brook Flood Control Commission. Vernon Noble is Chairman of the Commission.

Township officials indicated that Democratic Union County Freeholders are reluctant to give the go-ahead to the proposed detention basins because of environmental concerns raised by the New Jersey Chapter of the Sierra Club, and possible county maintenance costs of the basins - to be shared with the state - after they are built.

The task force will have a year to come up with proposals for a compromise that local officials and communities can agree on in order for the upper portion of the project to seek federal funding and survive.

Meanwhile, the Township Council agreed to support a resolution in favor of a $3.7 million bill for the flood control project passed by the United States House of Representatives in July. A United States Senate bill passed the same month, but did not contain any funding for the flood control protect.

According to a letter from Congressman Bob Franks of New Jersey’s Seventh Congressional District (which includes Scotch Plains and Fanwood) that was provided to The Times, strong local support for the House of Representatives version of the bill is needed to hammer out a compromise bill with the Senate that includes project funding.

The final version of the bill is scheduled to come before the House as early as next week, according to Congressman Franks.

On a separate matter, the council said it will consider hiring a consultant in an effort to revise township sewer tax ordinances based on capacity and flow of usage. Officials indicated that the township will look at organizations that have been exempt from sewer charges In the past.

The council said it will also consider a $252,900 bid from contractors to improve Brookside Park and pond this year. Officials said the cost was about 5 percent over original estimates because of evidence that nearly 60 percent more dirt must be dredged from the pond than previously anticipated.

After landscaping and cleaning the Brookside pond, any remaining, funds will be used to install electrical fountains to circulate pond water and pave the parking lot, officials added.

In other business, the council heard from the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) about a proposed Omnipoint installation of a 58-foot high, wireless communication antenna along Route 22 between Victor Street and Glenside Avenue in the township.

The location is on state-owned land in the township.

Council members agreed to suggest alternate placements for the tower to the NJDOT.

"We don’t need to deal with this nonsense," Councilman Johnston declared.

"We can put (the antenna) on the water tower already there," he suggested.

He pointed out that residents often object to the wireless towers for aesthetic reasons and because of concerns about their effect on property values.

Councilwoman Joan Papen alerted the council that she is ready to survey residents about their cable television service in a newsletter this fall. The survey is two pages long.

Councilwoman Papen is the Council Liaison to the Cable Television Refranchising Committee that will advise the township in contracting for continued cable service. The completed surveys should be returned to the township.

Mrs. Papen also asked the council to appoint emergency service personnel to the Refranchising Committee that includes Police Captain Joseph Protasiewicz, Fire Chief Jonathan Ellis and Rescue Squad President Daniel Sullivan.

On a different subject, Councilman Martin Marks said he would postpone discussion on a proposed ordinance to forbid so-called "scavenging" through discarded items at curbside during Residential Clean-up Month until Councilwoman Papen has an opportunity to review the proposal.

Councilman Marks has said that scavenging in residential neighborhoods by overloaded trucks from out-of-town creates potential traffic dangers and possible safety liabilities for the municipality.

Earlier, Councilwoman Papen indicated she was not in favor of the measure.

Mayor Irene T. Schmidt encouraged council members to undertake a study to look at the high volume of traffic on state and county roads in the township in an effort to seek remedies for rush hour snarls.

"This (problem) is not going to go away," Mayor Schmidt said.

She indicated that a video device and computer control of traffic signals may be one solution.

The council also indicated it would accept $200,000 from the NJDOT discretionary fund for improvements to Glenside Avenue.

Copyright 1997
TheWestfield Leader
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Revised: September 14, 1997.