Council Talks Fields of Dreams, Honors DeCroce
Among other business, the council honors the memory of Assemblyman Alex DeCroce.
The Township Council met for its first regular meeting of 2012 and addressed a number of issues, including the proposed Fields of Dreams project and leftover reorganization matters. The gathering took place Tuesday night at Town Hall.
Julia Peterson of the Historic Preservation Advisory Committee, during the meeting's public comment portion, stood to register her concerns over the proposal to use Open Space Trust Funds to pay for the installation of artificial turf fields at Parsippany and Parsippany Hills high schools.
"I understand the pros of building artificial turf fields, although there are significant environmental and health concerns that must be addressed," Peterson said. "However, I do not believe that school fields should be paid for with monies collected for a different purpose, nor do I believe that the town should control the use of the high school fields."
She added that the purchase could lead to regrets over a future lack of open space in Parsippany.
"Athletic fields are not the same thing as open space," she noted. "The fields should be funded some other way, if they are considered necessary."
Township Attorney John Inglesino said that Parsippany residents gave the administration the power to use open space funds for recreation improvements via a 2006 voter referendum.
"That's the way the legislators wrote the law," the lawyer said. "Legally, Township Council has the right and authority to utilize a portion of the funds for turf fields."
Inglesino also said that in order for those monies to be employed for the fields, the township must have a legal interest—at least 51 percent controlling interest—over the fields. That control would have to be ceded by the Parsippany Board of Education, which may discuss that possibility and may even vote on that notion at its next meeting, scheduled for Thursday at 7 p.m. at Parsippany Hills High School. The matter also may be discussed at the next Open Space Committee meeting. That body is slated to gather at Town Hall on Thursday at 5 p.m. The public is invited to attend both meetings.
Two big issues—the continuation of reorganization and the approval of AlphaDog Solutions, the township webmaster—were okayed by Council in the proverbial eye's blink. The members voted on numerous matters all at once under an omnibus Consent Agenda.
Among the approved actions:
- Inglesino's contract as Township Attorney was renewed for 2012 with no fee increase. According to Business Administrator Jasmine Lim, Inglesino is paid a retainer of $21,500 for attending council meetings and offering legal advice. He also receives $150 per hour "for legal services" and $220 per hour if said services involve matters requiring public finance expertise.
- Lim was appointed the town's Fund Commissioner for the Garden State Municipal Joint Insurance Fund, Parsippany's new insurer. Her alternate will be Robert Strechay, administrator for the Zoning Board of Adjustment.
- The council gave final authorization to a year-long agreement with AlphaDog Solutions to maintain the official municipal website. Under the pact, the company gets $1,890 per month for its professional services.
After the vote, Internet professional Jonathan Nelson presented evidence that Belleville-based AlphaDog has stock photos on Parsippany.net that violate copyrights of the photos' true owners.
Patch took a look at the site and found that Nelson's contentions were true: Photos found on the website by AlphaDog CEO Michael Melham can be found on other sites. One example is a shot of a calculator and pen found on a website in India. That same photo was on the township home page under the heading "2011 Tax Assistance."
Update: Patch learned during late afternoon Wednesday that Melham has removed the questionable photos from the municipal site.
An early portion of the Township Council meeting was given over to honors.
Mayor Barberio presented representatives of Mount Tabor Fire District 1, Rainbow Lakes Fire District 2, Parsippany-Troy Hills Fire Association District 6 and the Parsippany Office of Emergency Management's Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services with Outstanding Achievement Award certificates for their efforts assisting Parsippany residents impacted by Irene's floods last summer.
Friends of Lake Hiawatha, the area committee that raised money throughout 2011 to purchase town holiday decorations, presented a check for $300 to the township's Public Assistance Trust Fund. The money is earmarked to assist families still suffering because of the flooding in lower Hiawatha. The committee collected the funds through a number of fundraising events, including a Christmas in July party and a winter Snowflake Festival.
The Council also noted the passing of General Assembly Minority Leader Alex DeCroce. The veteran legislator, who lived in Parsippany, died suddenly Sunday night at the Statehouse immediately following the end of the assembly's final vote of its session.
"His passing caught us off-guard," said Council President Brian Stanton, who called for a moment of silence for DeCroce.
"He was a great leader, great mentor and great friend," said Vice President Vincent Ferrara, reading from a statement. "His legacy will remain with us."
The Township Council meets for its next agenda meeting at Town Hall on Feb. 7 at 7:30 p.m.