It hasn’t happened in a long while so when a member of the Kearny governing body cast a dissenting vote at last week’s meeting, it resonated with The Observer.
Let’s set the stage first.
There was a resolution before the mayor and Town Council proposing to waive a prohibition of Sunday demolition activity so that DVL Kearny Holdings LLC could proceed with knocking down the remains of the old Congoleum-Nairn factory on Passaic Ave. on six consecutive Sundays.
For the past several months, DVL, which has been designated a redeveloper of a portion of the east side of Passaic Ave., has been engaged in clearing the site to build a new mall whose anchor tenant will be BJ’s Wholesale Club.
To that end, the demolition contractor has been working six days a week, Monday through Saturday, to get that job done but last Wednesday, DVL’s Charles Carames, vice president of real estate, said the company hoped to accelerate its work schedule because, “we want to put the steel up [for BJ’s] at the beginning of August.”
Sunday demolition, Carames said, would start at 9 a.m. and end by 5 p.m. Normal working hours the rest of the week are 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., he said.
He said that DVL has advised residents – about 60 – who live closest to the construction site along Belgrove Drive about the company’s plans for the extended “demolition and crushing” on Sundays.
Mayor Alberto Santos noted that during a recent Saturday visit to the site, he observed that, despite the contractor hosing the area, “dust was coming all the way to the entrance of the ShopRite. My concern is on windy days when watering down the site creates a dusty mist flying into residents’ backyards.”
Third Ward Councilwoman Carol Jean Doyle agreed that because, “we’re talking about quality of life for those residents,” she would be inclined to vote against the Sunday work waiver, but added she would be guided by the sentiments of their First Ward representatives.
But First Ward Councilman Albino Cardoso said that he “got no complaints at all” from any of the people on DVL’s notification list. (The other First Ward representative, Councilwoman Marytrine DeCastro, had already left the meeting to go to her private nursing job, according to the mayor.)
Still unpersuaded that Sundays were the best alternative for DVL, Second Ward Councilman Richard Konopka said: “I’d be totally against it. Why not extend your [regular] work day to 6 or 7 [p.m.]?” Rather than work Sunday, he said, “I’d have guys work overtime [on other days].”
Fourth Ward Councilman Michael Landy offered a compromise: “Could we try [granting the waiver] for this Sunday and see how it goes?”
So an amended resolution pitching the trial Sunday was put before the governing body and it was approved with only Konopka voting “no.”
Asked when the last opposition vote was cast by a council member, Town Clerk Pat Carpenter, after doing some research, told The Observer that she had checked the minutes of council meetings back through 2013 and had yet to find another example of a council member casting a dissenting vote.