Taking the pledge
Town Council seeks to protect animals and the environment
by Al Sullivan
Reporter staff writer
Sep 08, 2013 | 3924 views | 0 0 comments | 129 129 recommendations | email to a friend | print
END OF SUMMER AGENDA – Mayor Michael Gonnelli and the Town Council had a full agenda at their last meeting.
END OF SUMMER AGENDA – Mayor Michael Gonnelli and the Town Council had a full agenda at their last meeting.
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The town of Secaucus is taking the pledge – the Companion Animal Management Pledge that is.

In a vote taken at its Aug. 27 meeting, the Town Council approved a resolution to develop a Companion Animal Management Plan. This will aid in recognizing that cats and dogs are an integral and valuable part of the community and contribute to the well-being of humans, whether as companion, service animals, or therapy pets.

The pledge means the town will: promote a pet-friendly environment, continue to operate and maintain the Secaucus Animal Shelter as a no-kill facility, continue the town’s spay/neuter program for outside cats, maintain the town’s feral cat colonies humanely, train and educate the police, animal control, and other officers in the importance of reducing public nuisances such as pet waste, and encourage the registration of dogs, cats, and other animals in the town.

In a related resolution, the council named Christine Contie to the position of Animal Shelter manager.

“We’re trying to be highest level of Sustainable Community status, and we have done a lot of things towards the goal,” said Mayor Michael Gonnelli. “We wanted to get it all done by September.”

“The Town of Secaucus,” the resolution reads, “understands that local government plays an important role in ensuring the well-being of animals, while balancing the needs of pet owners and non-pet owners.”

According to Sustainable Jersey program, there are about 2.2 million owned dogs and 2.5 million owned cats in New Jersey, and New Jersey is the first state in the nation to develop an innovative statewide spay/neuter program – funded partly from the proceeds of the sale of Animal Friendly License Plates to pay veterinarians for spaying and neutering surgeries.
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“This is a win-win for the town and the environment.” -- Mayor Michael Gonnelli
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The pledge and the program also seek to ensure responsible pet care and ensure that pets do not suffer due to abuse, neglect, or lack of proper care in kennels, pet shops, shelters, and pounds.

Although historically an animal-friendly town, Secaucus recently had two animal horror stories, one concerning a dog that died while in the care of a local pet store, and the other concerning a so-called animal lover who allegedly butchered chickens in his backyard.

Land plan looks green

The council also agreed to take a sustainable land use pledge. It encourages regional cooperation with neighboring towns and the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission concerning land use decisions and possible impacts. The pledge would also promise to create transportation choices that include walking, biking, mass transit, and cars when planning transportation projects and reviewing development applications. It would also include promotion of shared parking and other innovations.

The land use pledge also encourages the town to protect natural resources that have environmental, recreational, or agricultural value.

The town would use zoning and review powers to foster a diverse mix of housing types and locations such as single and multi-family constructions and for-sale and rental.

Green design would be incorporated, as well as renewable energy generation in municipal buildings, where practical. The town would take in considerations such as the ability to walk, bike, or take public transportation to and from municipal buildings if they are relocated or constructed.

Flood control on the agenda

The Town Council took actions on two key flood control projects, one that would lease property to Evergreen Environmental that would not only restore about 20 acres of wetlands in the north section of the city, but would enhance flood control in the area. The proposal could generate as much as $500,000 for the town.

“This is a win-win for the town and the environment,” said Gonnelli during an interview prior to the passage.

In another flood control effort, the council will seek bids for the Golden Avenue Storm Water Project to help reduce flooding near the center of town.

In a somewhat connected resolution, the Town Council also established a “Complete Streets” Policy that provides safe and convenient access for all uses, pedestrians, people with disabilities, bicyclists, motorists, and those who use public transportation.

Earlier this year, Hudson County adopted the same policy as part of broader transportation and road safety policies.

The town is seeking a $20,000 grant from the state Department of Community Affairs to carry out a project that would provide diverse and integrated recreational opportunities for children and young adults with disabilities.`

Additional business

In other matters, the council named Nick Goldsack as the town’s Public Agency Compliance Officer until Dec. 2013. He will serve as a liaison between the town and the state with regard to affirmative action laws and Equal Opportunity monitoring.

The city council also voted to award the bid for the purchase of a new trash truck at the cost of $218,024 to Delux International Truck.

In addition, the council voted to authorize an interlocal shared services agreement between the town of Secaucus and the Town of West New Year for the use of a health officer, Vincent Rivelli.

Secaucus does not have a health officer of its own and will pay the town of West New York $10,000. Rivelli has worked in Secaucus for well over a decade, and is also a member of Hudson County Regional Health Commission. West New York has a similar agreement with other Hudson County towns including Bayonne.

“The town is required to have a health officer,” Gonnelli said. “He doesn’t do all the day to day inspections. We have another inspector for those.”

And the council voted to hire a licensed architect to design various projects that the town has received grants and other funding for. Minervine-Vandermark was retained at a fee not to exceed $25,000.

In another cost saving measure, the council voted to switch from the state Health Benefits Plan for prescription drugs to Prescription Corporation of America, which is expected to cost less than the state plan for the next year but provide equal coverage. The town would save about $48,000, the resolution said.

Al Sullivan may be reached at asullivan@hudsonreporter.com.

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