Freeholders Praise Residents’ Cooperation As Reopenings Begin
By FRED T. ROSSI
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader
COUNTY — With businesses and other activities slowly reopening, several members of the county freeholder board thanked residents for their cooperation and assistance during the shutdowns associated with the Covid-19 pandemic. Chairman Alexander Mirabella emphasized the importance of “continued vigilance” by county residents.
At the board’s June 18 meeting, Mr. Mirabella noted that county golf courses, tennis courts and dog parks have reopened and said the limit on public gatherings was to increase to 250 this week and then to 500 on Friday, July 3. He also said picnic areas will be available for use, by reservation, starting Wednesday, July 1.
He also thanked those involved in the county’s food donation efforts that have helped “thousands of Union County households put food on the table.” Later in the meeting, Freeholder Kimberly Palmieri-Mouded saluted teachers and parents for “all the hard work” they put in during the three months that schools were closed and at-home teaching was in effect. Freeholder Sergio Granados thanked the county government staff for working with residents during the shutdown.
In other business, in an effort to assist restaurants that are now allowed to offer outdoor dining to their patrons, the county will look favorably at plans submitted by municipalities to close certain county roads so dining establishments can place tables and chairs for customers. Mr. Mirabella said that many restaurants are being “creative” as they reopen more fully and that the county “wants to try to help” them in attracting customers.
An ordinance was introduced last week to authorize development of a renewable energy facility at the Tremley Point facility in Linden. A representative for a laborers’ union spoke briefly in favor of the project, saying it would “create good jobs,” “spur economic development” and be “good for the environment.” A public hearing on the ordinance will be held Thursday, July 23.
The freeholder board approved the appointments of Alma Blanco and Tim McConway to the county planning board to fill unexpired terms. Additionally, the board approved the appointment of Ahmed Shehata to fill an unexpired term on the Union County Improvement Authority (UCIA). Garwood resident Bruce Paterson later commented on the appointment, calling the UCIA a “patronage pit.”
The freeholders approved a resolution reducing the contract for the replacement of the W.R. Tracy Road bridge in the Watchung Reservation by $111,440. Calling it a “decent-sized reduction,” Joseph Graziano, the county’s director of engineering, public works and facilities management, explained the cost-saving was due to less police being needed to direct traffic as well as lower expenses associated with drainage at the bridge site. “It’s always great” when there is a reduction in costs, commented Freeholder Granados. The freeholders approved an increase in printing expenses of $45,299 for provisional ballots at each polling place in the county for the Tuesday, July 7 Primary election.
After the June 18 meeting, the male members of the freeholder board — Mr. Mirabella, Mr. Granados, Angel Estrada and Christopher Hudak — along with County Manager Ed Oatman, took part in the Union County Home Haircut Challenge and had their hair cut quite short as part of a fundraiser for local charities.