Union City contributed $15,000 toward the goal in fund raising and creating awareness of the state Special Olympics program. The mayor and commissioners also received 25th anniversary mementos; T-shirts with the names of the state's biggest contributing municipalities on the back, including two from Hudson County - Jersey City and Union City.
The meeting started off on this positive note, and then the board discussed several issues with attendees, who filled the community room of 3700 Palisade Ave. that night.
Citizens put forth concerns
One resolution passed at the meeting authorized an emergency contract with Hector Carbajales, interim president of the Hudson County SPCA, for animal control services in Union City. The resolution was a response to the recent state Supreme Court decision to prolong the closure of the county animal shelter until issues of mismanagement and unsanitary conditions can be resolved.
A resident questioned the commissioners about the contract, which would allow the city to temporarily contract him to pick up strays found in Union City and bring them to a shelter, as well as setting traps for any wild animals, such as raccoons or possums.
The resident's concern then became the safety of such animals being trapped, and Stack assured the woman that only live traps are used. The mayor said that the police and health departments would have contact information for Carbajales.
So if a resident finds a stray or wild animal, "You would call the police, and they would dispatch him," explained Christine Vanek, corporation counsel for the city.
Also, the board adopted an ordinance to allow the city to establish a traffic control monitoring system, which will allow a contract with a vendor for the monitoring service.
This prompted a query from one resident who was concerned that the taxpayers would be funding the cost of this contract. However, according to Stack, the contract will come at no expense to Union City residents.
"There is no cost to the municipality," Stack said, explaining that the vendor, who will install and run the service, may keep a portion of the summons amount as compensation. "It's win-win."
Also at the meeting, Union City resident Dorothy Jetter asked the commissioners, "Is this a sanctuary city for illegal [citizens]?"
Mayor Stack replied, "Are there illegal, undocumented citizens in Union City? Yeah, there are." He said the city certainly isn't designated any type of sanctuary, but in the case of someone coming to him for help, he added, "People are people ... When somebody comes into City Hall, I don't ask people, 'Are you undocumented?' "
Lastly, one woman complained that the lights have been out in the hall of her house for a long time, and she has not been able to reach anyone in the Housing Authority that has helped her. She initially asked when the next Housing Authority meeting would be held, because she had been trying to find out for about a month so she could attend and present her problem, but any meetings she was aware of were at inconvenient times during the day. She explained to the board that she called the emergency number and it was only someone taking a message, and that she couldn't find out who to call about the problem after many attempts to contact someone regarding her problems.
"You can't get answers here anymore," said the frustrated resident.
Stack promised to get her a list of Housing Authority meetings and make sure the meetings were held after 5 p.m. to be more accessible to residents.
PSE&G debates street openings
An item on the agenda was tabled when Richard Dwyer, PSE&G public affairs manager for Hudson County, expressed concerns about the specifics of an ordinance introduced at the May 20 commissioners meeting seeking to prohibit the opening of newly constructed or reconstructed streets (as previously reported in the June 1 issue of The Union City Reporter).
The ordinance is the city's answer to a specific problem, following a certain pattern: the city finishes a street and then a utility or an individual opens the street to do work and the repaving is flawed, creating a safety hazard to pedestrians and residents, so the city must then redo all the work put into the new or newly repaved street at additional expense.
At the May 20 meeting, PSE&G was an example Stack cited of a utility ripping up the streets.
Dwyer asked the mayor for the opportunity to sit down with him and the commissioners to discuss the ordinance and its implications. He expressed concern on behalf of PSE&G, as a utility that the ordinance would affect, and emphasized that the company holds public safety and community relations as priorities.
Stack met Dwyer's concerns with a comment that PSE&G doesn't attend construction meetings; however, the mayor conceded that Dwyer has always been available and willing to work with the city whenever there have been problems.
"I know that you're very responsible," Stack said, continuing to express concerns not only for the community but the municipality. "But we have lawsuits ... and it's become an ongoing problem."
Dwyer honed in on part of the ordinance that would require any street opening to be closed again by repaving from curb to curb to eliminate dangerously uneven pavement and patchwork. He appealed to Stack, explaining that this is a financial burden that the utility's clients would have to bear and would make small repairs considerably more expensive.
"The customer would be liable for the costs of repairing the street from curb to curb," Dwyer said, addressing the mayor and commissioners.
The mayor agreed to table the resolution and meet with Dwyer, and the board voted in favor of doing so.
In a recent interview, Dwyer stated, "PSE&G and all excavators have an obligation to restore excavations on the roadways to as good a condition as they were before installing underground utility infrastructure. PSE&G agrees with the City of Union City that high standards of road restoration should be enforced for the safe and reliable delivery of utility services and for the safety of the general traveling public."
Dwyer told the Reporter that he had spoken with the municipal engineer and hoped to meet last week.
The next public meeting will be held June 17 at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 3715 Palisade Ave.
Comments can be sent to Mpaul@hudsonreporter.com.