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  • Writer's pictureAmalia Duarte

DPW Presentation at Nov. 9 Township Committee Meeting

Dear Mendham Friends: We ended a tumultuous week with an uplifting announcement! Our country had elected a new president and vice president who promised to bring the country back together! In his victory speech, President-Elect Joe Biden said, "This is the time to heal in America." Meanwhile, Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris made history and shattered the glass ceiling as the first woman, first Black woman and the first woman of South Asian descent to become elected as vice president. 

The news spread instantaneously and was met with spontaneous street celebrations across the country and even right here in our community! A large group of residents gathered yesterday afternoon for champagne and camaraderie at the Brookside Fields to celebrate the good news! 

As for Mendham Township results, we are not there yet! We are still awaiting the final count of ballots received by mail or via a drop box, and then the Provisional votes cast on Election Day will be counted.

So far, I am well ahead of my challenger by 1,241 votes to 890. It is a comfortable lead, but with hundreds of ballots left to count, nothing is assured.

Again, I appreciate your support and hope to have positive results to announce later this week! Check for the latest results.

Meanwhile, congratulations to Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill (D-11) who was easily re-elected to a second term. Results are still not finalized for county and state races, which are still too close to call. It was a pleasure to catch up with Mikie recently for a front-porch visit at my home the day before the election.

The Township Committee met on Monday, Nov. 9, starting at 7:30 p.m.

There was a packed agenda for one of our last meetings of the year, including these items:

DPW - At the outset of the meeting, Committeeman Jordan Orlins made a presentation about the workings of the Department of Public Works (DPW) and his ideas for what he says are cheaper alternatives that will not diminish services. I have heard a lot of support from residents for maintaining in-house DPW services and not privatizing their work. The concerns raised, which I share, are around a slower response time and lower quality of service. I am skeptical of moves to outsource this important municipal service for residents. Coincidentally, the Township Committee will vote on a new contract for the DPW, which is represented by the Teamsters Local 469. This has been a lengthy negotiation process by the township and union. Lastly, there is a bid for consideration to outsource snow plowing services to a private contractor. 

Town Hall Project - At our previous meeting, the $5 million bond ordinance for renovating the municipal building and constructing a new police station was approved by a 4-1 vote. (I was the dissenting vote.) As the project moves forward, there are several Resolutions on the agenda related to it. The Committee voted to hire EI Associates for engineering and consulting services to review the septic needs for the proposed new police station. EI completed the septic analysis and design for the Brookside Emergency Services building and home at 4 West Main St. The cost is not to exceed $3,000 for their services. Another Resolution to extend the contract with Cornerstone Architectural  Group up to $56,000 was tabled. A third Resolution was passed awarding a contract to Cornerstone not to exceed $209,000 for the design, limited project management and other work related to the project. Finally, we will voted on a Resolution to create a committee of residents and township employees to provide input on the exterior design of the new police station. 

Garbage/Recycling Contract - The Committee approved continuing garbage collection in a three-year contract with the current hauler, RTS. In a separate action, the Committee voted to award a five-year, recycling pick-up contract to the Morris County Utilities Authority (MUA) as part of a shared service. Residents will continue to enjoy weekly pick up of both garbage and recycling. For recycling, there is a change: Residents will need to separate items for what is known as dual-stream recycling. One week, paper/cardboard will be collected, and the following week, all other co-mingled items. By separating recycling, there is a greater chance of products being recycled, instead of ending up dumped in a landfill. Look for recycling pick on Mondays, starting Jan. 4, 2021.

Discussion items - Given the lengthy of the meeting, these items were tabled: Combining the Board of Adjustment (zoning) and Planning Board into one body; recruitment of new volunteers; and the makeup and management of standing sub-committees.

Finally, the Environmental Commission is sponsoring a photography contest for children and adults. Take advantage of this unusually warm weather to go for a hike and snap some pics!

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