It appears that East Newark will not have a shot at expanding off-street resident permit parking opportunities … at least not on Grant Ave.
The borough had hoped to convert a lot at 246 Grant where a fire consumed a two-story duplex on July 28 into municipal parking, linked to an adjacent lot on John St.
And last Wednesday, the Borough Council adopted an ordinance that would authorize the borough to take the property via eminent domain for public use.
But Mayor Joseph Smith said that the property owner has advised the borough construction office that his intention is to knock down what remains of the fire-ravaged structure and “replace what was there.”
Construction Official Mark Sadonis has declared the structure unsafe and has designated it for demolition, Smith said, and, he added, the owner, Robert Casyan, has asked for a short extension on taking it down before engaging a contractor.
Asked why the borough has, nonetheless, gone ahead with the ordinance, Smith said that “we don’t have to enforce it,” but that if the owner fails to follow through on his pledge to rebuild, then the borough will be ready to proceed on developing the lot for overnight permit parking for residents.
Five adults, including the owner, were left homeless by the three-alarm blaze which is believed to have started in a first-floor apartment. The state fire marshal’s office was called in to investigate the cause but, according to Smith, the borough is still waiting for the results.
In other business from last week’s meeting, the Borough Council reluctantly terminated the employment of rookie Police Officer Daniel Hidrovo.
After he was hired June 3, Hidrovo went to the Police Academy in Morris County for a training program but experienced health problems while undergoing the physical regiment of the program, said Borough Police Chief Anthony Monteiro.
“He missed so much time they had to let him go,” Monteiro said.
Hidrovo, now in his mid- 20s, played football for his alma mater Harrison High School, and was not known to have suffered any medical issues prior to his time at the Academy, the chief said.
“The kid’s heartbroken over this,” Monteiro added. “But this doesn’t mean he can’t re-apply sometime in the future.”
Town Attorney Neil Marotta said that under the federal HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act), employers cannot discuss details of employees’ medical conditions due to privacy issues.
“In all probability,” Smith said, “we’ll hire another individual after reviewing our current appointment list or re-advertising but it won’t happen anytime soon. “The hardest obstacle for us is we have to wait for the next Academy class to open up. There’s usually one every four to five months. And it’s a 22-week program.”
In another public safety development, the Borough Council voted to expand the number of non-borough residents that can serve on the Volunteer Fire Department, from the current 10 to 12.
“We have 20 members and two runners (apprentices) in each of our fire companies,” Smith said. “People are joining but when they see the time they have to in, it’s a constant battle keeping them around. We’re having a hard time time keeping afloat.”
The council also approved a 2% pay increase for nonuniformed employees for 2015. Smith said that employees should see checks containing lump sum increases retroactive to Jan. 1 “by October.”
And the council executed a contract with the state Department of Transportation for the receipt of municipal aid funding to pave President St. and Sherman Ave. from Frank Rodgers Blvd. to Grant Ave.