It was standing room only for the January 27th council meeting. Many residents were there to support or oppose the final vote of the Bond ordinance. This ordinance is for issuing a 0% loan to the Thielke Arboretum for the construction of the Educational Center. (Read the Ordinance here) The building had been previously approved. This vote was just for the funding. For more information on the building click here.
Councilman Mike O’Hagan, requested that the vote be postponed so that the Council has more time to review some of the concerns brought up by residents during the past several meetings. In addition, they were split 3-3 which meant it would have failed had it gone to a vote. This was seconded by Councilwoman Martin. The final reading is tentatively scheduled for 2/10/2016.
Some residents felt that by putting a building on the land it would be ruining the peaceful setting of the arboretum. Another concern was the 0% loan. It was also felt by a couple of residents that the Borough would be setting precedence by allowing this. This theory was countered by another resident that was in charge of the Library expansion done in 2002. At that time, the Borough lent the Friends of the Library approximately $600,000 at 0% interest. All of that money was paid back to the borough.
Many residents also supported the building and what it stood for. Growth. The main feeling was that they agreed that it is important to grow and change so that the residents and children of our town and the towns around us have a place to learn more about the nature around them.
Because of the amount of people standing up for both and against the building, the council enforced a 5 minute time limit on each speaker.
On other council news…
The council and mayor swore in new OEM (Office of Emergency Management) coordinators. These are: GRFD Chief Tom Jennings and GRPD Officer Greg Carter.
The other ordinance up for first reading was regarding the clearing of the snow around the fire hydrants. The change would be from 5 feet around the hydrant to 3 feet around the hydrant. (read the ordinance here)
The first reading passed with a unanimous vote. During the final reeding on 2/10 the floor will be open for residents to express their concerns about this ordinance.
Mayor Packer also discussed the issue with Ridgewood Water. They are setting up a possible March Q & A session for the residents and Ridgewood Water, similar to the one that was held at the 8/26/2015 council meeting. Please email the council and the Mayor your questions for Ridgewood Water.