Smoke free environment
Secaucus plans to collect from NJMC
by Vanessa Cruz
Reporter Staff Writer
Mar 17, 2013 | 2487 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
SMOKEFREE -- Mayor Michael Gonnelli holding up one of the GASP signs that will be dispersed throughout Secaucus now that the ordinance to prohibit the use of tobacco products in public areas was adopted on Tuesday, March 12.
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Secaucus joined many local municipalities on Tuesday, March 12 by adopting an ordinance to prohibit the use of tobacco products in public areas such as within 35 feet of municipal buildings, and in parks and recreational facilities. Signs invoking the Global Advisors Smokefree Policy and the American Cancer Society will be placed throughout the areas that are 100 percent smoke free as a result of the ordinance.

No smoking

The smoking ordinance was introduced on Feb. 11. Violators will be subject to a warning as the first offense, a $25 fine for the second and a fine not to exceed $100 for each subsequent offense.

Program Manager Alan Kantz from Global Advisors Smokefree Policy (GASP) presented Mayor Michael Gonnelli with 60 signs to be posted throughout the town.

“[The ordinance] fits with the improvements you’re making to your parks,” said Kantz. “I think it’s wonderful that Secaucus has participated in [the smokefree public areas ordinance]. There are now over 85 municipalities in the state that have made their parks 100 percent smoke free.”

Gonnelli clarified that his approval for the ordinance did not waver, even when a resident approached the council members and said that “smokers got rights too.”

According to a GASP press release, “there is a growing concern that outdoor secondhand smoke (SHS) can pose a health hazard to both people and the environment. Recent studies show outdoor exposure to concentration levels of SHS can exceed current U.S. EPA limits on fine particulate matter pollution, and SHS concentrations in a variety of outdoor settings can be comparable to those in smoky indoor settings.”

The release states that children and the elderly are most at risk of SHS exposure. And even brief exposure can trigger serious health issues for asthmatics of all ages along with those with comprised cardiovascular systems.

‘Show Me the Money!’

Mayor Michael Gonnelli has called upon the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission, a state entity, to reveal funds they have collected by dealing with local towns’ solid waste funds. Gonnelli feels they are using funds that the municipalities should be receiving. In a press release it states that “any surpluses from the operation of solid waste facilities are to be divided 75 percent to the NJMC and 25 percent to the towns and distributed according to acreage within the district.”

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“It is a shame that we have to go to such lengths to get what is ours.” – Mayor Michael Gonnelli

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When Gonnelli attended the last NJMC meeting he was told by staff members that there was no surplus for solid waste and that the state has never provided any funds toward the maintenance of landfills. Gonnelli has proposed that an audit of the NJMC books be done to determine how much solid waste is being processed. The committee agreed to the resolution by a 12 to 1 vote.

“We will have the auditors and attorneys look at the NJMC books,” said Gonnelli in the release. “I asked our town attorney to formally request the NJMC executive director to give us an accounting and I requested our municipal auditor to review the NJMC audits over the last five years to see how the solid waste funds are being used. It is a shame that we have to go to such lengths to get what is ours.”

Other matters

A resolution was awarded for $39,930 to J.C. Landscape Construction, the lowest bidder, for the relocation of the bocce court.

A resolution was passed to appoint Robert J. Flanagan to the position of housekeeper in the department of public works, division of buildings and grounds, effective Monday, March 4 with a salary of $29,000.

A resolution was passed to appoint Eliane Miedel to the position of part time administrative clerk in the records room of the Police Department effective March 13 at $14 per hour.

A resolution was passed to appoint Kyle Schlemm as a part-time worker for the town at a rate of $10, and to increase to $10 the wages of Michael Lyngholm, Carla Chaparo, and Richard Zaccone, effective Wednesday, March 13.

Vanessa Cruz can be reached at vcruz@hudsonreporter.com

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