Fanwood Council Meeting Sees Continued Discussion about Consolidation Study Last Night
The council meeting began with regular business and ended with a discussion about Courage to Re-connect's initiative to consolidate Scotch Plains and Fanwood.
Monday’s discussions about a consolidation study commission spilled over into last night’s Fanwood Council Meeting, as both residents and council members spoke to Fanwood’s representation in the commission’s petition process.
The council meeting, held in Fanwood’s municipal building, began as any council meeting might, with roll calls, agendas, and votes. However, once the meeting was turned over to the public for comments, the topic of discussion quickly turned to Fanwood residents’ distrust of Courage to Re-connect, as well as the council’s issues with the Fanwood petitioners’ lack of participation at the public hearings.
Fanwood resident George Weiss said he contemplated his late wife’s favorite caveat when considering Courage to Re-connect’s motives. She said, “Things are not always as they seem. Skim milk masquerades as cream.”
However, Weiss commended Dennis Estes, Borough attorney, for his contributions to the previous discussions about the consolidation study and his ability to speak honestly about the issues.
Estes said last night that it was absurd for essentially one person, Courage to Re-connect’s founder Fred Lange, to have the authority to pick so many members of the study’s commission. He said this is not representative.
Estes also revisited the issue of financial support, stating the commission study could only move forward with proper funding. He said it would be pointless for the group to approach the Finance Committee in Trenton for approval if the committee were not able to go ahead with the study.
“So this whole process is really much ado about nothing if they can’t get the money, and in my opinion, that is a precursor, or precondition.”
Estes confirmed last night that he would attend the meeting in Trenton, tentatively set for August 8.
Fanwood resident Harry McNally complained Courage to Re-connect’s meetings would “pop-up” without much notice, similar, he said, to what would occur in a “dictatorship.”
“Who wants to vote?” McNally asked. “These are outsiders, it almost seems to me, that are pushing for some kind of vote that is going to require a lot of work, and money in a sense, especially if you are passionate about how the towns ought to work together.”
Fanwood Council President Russell Huegel encouraged residents to participate in the discussion process, especially those residents who signed their names to the Application to Create a Municipal Consolidation Study Commission.
“…We invite people who signed this petition to come to council meetings to voice their opinion about this effort, this endeavor,” Huegel said.
“…I have never witnessed anybody… coming to the podium and voicing their support for this…” he continued.
Despite lengthy discussions about the Courage to Re-connect initiative, the council meeting’s start was, for the most part, business as usual.
Of note was a brief presentation by David Trumpp, president of the Fanwood Lions Club. Trumpp presented a check of $300 to the Fanwood Fire Department, the Fanwood Rescue Squad, and the Fanwood Recreation Commission for aiding with last year’s Christmas tree fundraiser.
“We couldn’t be as successful as we are without the support the community warrants the program,” Trumpp said.
Another notable discussion followed Councilman Robert Manduca’s Health report, which included statistics about Fanwood’s sewer system.
Manduca reported, according to the Plainfield Area Regional Sewage Authority, 14,259,000 gallons of water were flushed by Fanwood residents last month. However, Estes said this is most likely the result of infiltration and in-flow, since Fanwood sewer pipes are so old that rain water often gets into sewer lines through cracks.
Councilman Anthony Parenti noted, however, that since this occurs before the water gets to reading meters, residents pay for this excess.
The options Fanwood faces are either paying to repair and replace some of the sewer pipes, or continuing to pay extra for water treatment.
According to Estes, the borough would essentially be paying the same price for either option.