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NEWS REPORT: USR Mayor & Council Meeting of March 2, 2023

NEWS REPORT: USR Mayor & Council Meeting of March 2, 2023

Two New Bond Issue Ordinances Are Introduced

A new, $1,200,000 bond issue ordinance was introduced tonight for “various public improvements and new information technology and telecommunications equipment.”

This ordinance will be available for public comment at the next mayor & council meeting to be held on March 30, 2023 due to conflicts with seasonal holidays.

1. $890,000 in Additional Improvements to One Lake Street Park Athletic Complex: This athletic park was initially approved by the Mayor and Council on April 1, 2021, for a cost to taxpayers of $5.5 million. 15-year bonds were issued for the same.

Costs rose again the following year in 2022, when $2,225,000 in supplemental funding was approved by the mayor and council. This brought the park cost to $7,725,000.15-year bonds were issued for the same.

At tonight’s meeting, an additional $890,000 in appropriations and funding bond issue for the park were introduced. The bond ordinance request did not provide information on what the additional appropriations were specifically for. 

2. $210,000 in Additional Improvements to Gabion Wall at 31 Possum Trail: A further $200,000 supplemental bond issue and $10,000 deposit was introduced this evening to additionally repair a gabion wall at 31 Possum Trail damaged as a result of Tropical Storm Ida in addition to $400,000 previously appropriated and adopted on October 6, 2022. 

3. $100,000 for the Acquisition of New Information Technology and Telecommunications Equipment

This ordinance provides for an updated computer server at borough hall and peripheral equipment. A 5-year bond issue of $92,400 with a $7,600 down payment is requested.

Fire Ordinance Introduced to Repeal and Replace Chapter 51

Ordinance 2-23 calls for the Upper Saddle River Fire Code Official to enforce the fire code and regulations”in all buildings, structures, premises, and places within the established boundaries of Upper Saddle River, other than owner occupied one- and two-family dwellings, and shall faithfully comply with the requirements of the Act and the Uniform Fire Code.”

Residents Detail Concern Over Current and Potential Water Issues

Upper Saddle River resident William Spencer addressed the council presenting research and scientific review of the risk of water contamination and the risk of wells running dry in the near future in our borough. Water contamination could result from the new, 10,000 grave plot Har Shalom Cemetery located at 44 Hillside Avenue, Airmont, NY, and from current, regular Rockland County sewage overflows running into the Saddle River watershed. Dry wells may result from the 49,000 sq. ft. mikvah (ritual bath) facility located on 3.7 acres on Hillside Avenue which has recently dug 3 commercial size wells, he said. 

Mr. Spencer, who was joined later by Jay Perez, USR Environmental Committee President, stated that the three water impacts on USR caused by these Hillside Ave. developments, which are just over the state line in Rockland County could cause devastating negative impacts on water quality and water levels in the borough, as well as to the Saddle River flowing through Upper Saddle River, Saddle River, and further south.  

The mikvah was approved for a Suez/(now Veolia) water supply line but even though the installation of that water supply line has not started, construction quickly continues. Recently, the developer applied for, was granted and drilled 3 commercial-grade wells on the property. The wells are planned to supply water for the ritual baths. This could negatively impact water levels in our area. It was noted that in years past just one swimming pool fill caused wells to go dry in the Hampshire Hill area. If water levels drop, USR residents, dependent on water from wells, may need to have deeper wells dug at a cost of $8,000 to $20,000 per residence. 

In addition, well water could be contaminated by unintended drainage from the new, 10,000 plot cemetery which was built on disturbed, more porous soil, rather than the traditionally used undisturbed solid land used by cemeteries. This could cause USR residents to require water filtration systems for their homes to eliminate pathogenic bacteria and increased nitrogen in their drinking water. 

The Saddle River is a New Jersey Pristine Class A Waterway which supplies backup water supply for Bergen County and is a stocked trout fishing waterway. According to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NY DEC) there have been over 40 Rockland County sewage overflows totalling 30,000 gallons over the 5-year period ending in 2021; the aging sewer system upgrades have not been addressed. The mikvah could add up to 5,000 gallons per day of wastewater discharge into the already overtaxed sewage system. 

Mr. Spencer noted that he has spent over 250 hours researching these issues consulting with environmental scientists, hydrogeologists, soil scientists, and a local sewer district manager. He asked the USR council to contact their attorney to insist that the NY DEC and the NJ DEP take action to help resolve these issues. Mr. Spencer noted that there is no record of fines or legal consequences, even though both the mikvah and cemetery developers have been issued with NY DEC notices of violation. Ongoing percolation studies need to be required as to water quality and water depth, and both the NJDEP, Bergen County Health Department,  and the federal EPA need to take action, he said. 

While the mayor was not present at this meeting, councilman Jonathan Ditkoff said that the council would make contact with an engineer and an attorney to further review these issues. 

An Ordinance 01-23 To Amend the Towing Code is Approved

This ordinance revises towing charges in the borough code (see Chapter 128).

Jay Perez Is Named Community Impact Winner

USR Environmental Committee President Jay Perez was named the 2022 Community Impact Winner by his employer, AT&T.

Girl Scout Week Is Announced

The week of March 12-18 was declared Girl Scout Week in Upper Saddle River.

Read Across America Celebration

Read Across America and Read Across America – NJ were proclaimed to be celebrated beginning March 2, 2023.

Sheryl Romano Requests Names of Shade Tree Commission Members

Sheryl Romano requested the names of the shade tree commission members. She is concerned that there may be a conflict of interest there. 

Eric Friis Inquires about Dog Walking at Lions Park

Eric Friis asked that the council consider permitting the walking of well-behaved, leashed dogs at Lions Park, like Saddle River allows at Rindlaub Park.

Resident Inquires about Toll Bros. runoff into local stream

A resident inquired of the council whether there was continued testing of water into the streams south of the Toll Bros. development at Apple Ridge.

Bills Paid 

Bills in the amount of $4,402,794.83 were paid.