Concerns about the newly opened skateboard park on Koelle Boulevard highlighted the Sept. 9 council meeting, raising speculation as to how to keep kids safe and secure.
Second Ward Councilman Bob Kickey said a check of the new facility near the town’s swimming pool had showed 11 out of 13 kids without helmets, a requirement to use the park.
The park was constructed in order to get kids out of more passive parks and off the streets. With the rebuilding of Buchmuller Park into a more passive entertainment facility, town officials wanted to keep kids from doing damage to the amphitheater and other areas. A park was constructed in the north end on a design that allows skateboarding. But Kickey noted that to use the facility, kids must follow basic safety, and this included wearing of helmets. He noted that no park guard was on duty at the time.
"I contact John Voli and he brought an attendant down," Kickey said, noting that some of the kids in the new facility were also not Secaucus residents.
Kickey said he had discussed the idea with Voli, the recreation director, about establishing a membership card that would allow attendants to determine who is a resident and who is not.
Town Administrator Anthony Iacono said non-residents at the park are not yet a big issue and that most of the kids from out of town are coming with Secaucus residents. But he said the identification program is already being discussed, similar to one used for the Junior Police Academy over the summer. This would be promoted within the schools.
During the public comment period, resident Barbara Brookshire noted that there are special helmets for skateboarding, designed to prevent neck injuries. She also asked if knee and elbow pads should be required.
Elwell, however, said the town did not want to impose too many restrictions on kids that might discourage them from using the park.
"The idea is to get them out of the streets," he said. "If we impose too much on them, they may go back to the streets where it is much more dangerous."
Iacono noted that the current regulations meet insurance requirements.
The town has received a $23,000 grant to construct a footbridge over Mill Creek and connect the town’s River Walkway with the nature trails in the Mill Creek Restoration area.
"This bridge would be located near our sewerage treatment plant," said Mayor Dennis Elwell, noting that the path would continue on the town side along the Millridge Road ball field to Mill Creek Point Park.
On another issue, Elwell said town officials gathered in the north end to look over changes near the parking lot on Paterson Plank Road. This will include the moving of a bus stop sand other safety issues. People have complained about poor vision pulling out of the lot due to vehicles parking along one side of Paterson Plank Road. Metered parking may also be installed along one side of Plank Road in order to keep people from parking in front of local businesses there.
The parking lot in the north end was partly constructed in order to make up for the Huber Street School parking lot that was lost due to the addition of a new wing two years ago. While the town provided parking in the new lot for teachers, secretaries and volunteers were neglected. Elwell said this will be addressed, and additional free parking in the lot will be provided.
In the public comment portion of the meeting, resident Art Glaeser said the radio towers in Secaucus had no emergency lights during the blackout, putting air traffic at risk.
Elwell said the town has issued the radio station located on Radio Avenue a warning to get some kind of backup generator for the towers.
During her comments, resident Barbara Napierski again pressed the town for some resolution to a sewerage pipe she claims town employees broke while digging up tree roots. In a continuing dispute, Elwell said sewerage authority videos dispute this claim, but told Napierski to hire a firm to dig up the line.
"Call us when it is opened up and we will determine what caused the break," Elwell said. "If we’re responsible, we’ll fix it."
Napierski, however, was not satisfied with the answer, but did not say what she would do.
Resident Joan Greene asked about the status of Meadowlands Parkway bridge repairs, noting that the state had promised payment earlier this year.
"We cannot start work on the bridge until we actually have the money in hand," said Elwell.