The municipal road show known as the Kearny Town Council has ended its month-and-a-half-long circuit and returned to the friendly confines of Town Hall. During that time, meetings were in the auditorium of Kearny High School.
On Aug. 9, the governing body settled into its newly renovated chambers following a re-do of its badly dated audio/visual system, installation of new furnishings, replacement of old flooring tiles with modern grey vinyl planking, installation of new walnut-brown with grey interior wall paneling, refinished benches and a paint job.
“We’re still not hooked up for remote watching of our meetings,” Council President Carol Jean Doyle , “and we’re also waiting for the reframing (and restoration) of all the mayors’ photos (displayed on the chambers’ walls), but the lighting is excellent and the room is so bright. I’m happy to see the transformation. Overall, it’s a plus and money well spent. In the many years since we’ve had this setup, they’ve changed the blinds and the rug. That’s it. So I’d say it’s time for an update.”
Participants in, and observers of, meetings in the chambers by the Mayor and Council, the Zoning and Planning Boards and Municipal Court, have complained about the poor quality of sound generated by the individual microphones on the dais, both in live and remote transmissions.
But Town Administrator Stephen Marks said the work done by Millennium Communications to upgrade the chambers’ A/V components, much of which dates from the 1980s and 1990s, including new speakers —with sound enhanced from analogue to digital — and video, plus recording equipment for both government meetings and court sessions, should remedy those deficiencies and provide “state of the art” service.
Optimally, Marks said, the new hardware’s “useful life” should last up to two decades and the software, for perhaps 14 years.
While the number of video screens has been reduced, from six to four, Marks said the video composition has been improved, from the prior standard definition to high definition, which will facilitate a clearer understanding of proposed land use changes and new projects outlined by applicants appearing before the council, planning or zoning boards.
The new A/V system will have special components designed to allow the hearing-impaired to better grasp information being presented, Marks said.
Early in the planning stages, Marks said, the town had hoped to redesign the slightly elevated section of the chambers to accommodate a permanent ramp to facilitate easier access to microphones for the disabled for municipal court testimony but several rows of benches would have had to be removed. Plus, he added, because the building is designated as an historic landmark, there are restrictions on how much its interior can be altered.
The contractor has recommended the possibility of utilizing a removable ramp for wheelchair access, if needed, Marks said.
Marks said the town used part of its allocation of federal American Rescue Plan funding to finance the A/V improvements and dedicated municipal monies for the balance of the work.
A formal ribbon-cutting ceremony is tentative planned for next month, Doyle said.
Other municipal infrastructure projects in the works, according to Marks, include:
- Building a one-story Community Health Annex at 50 Belgrove Drive, after the old police precinct is torn down. RSC Architects, of Hackensack, will design the new facility at a cost of $74,500 in six to nine months. Construction will follow.
- Construction, next year, of a single-story 450-square-foot addition to the branch of the town’s Public Library to accommodate such activities as public readings, yoga and art classes.
- A new crew house dock along the Passaic River. Neglia Engineering, the town’s engineering consulting firm, is preparing design specifications.
- Re-turfing the rear section of Harvey Field and installing a rain garden to capture storm runoff. The field was badly damaged by Hurricane Ida in fall 2021.
- Rehabilitation of the roller hockey rink on Passaic Avenue.
- Road resurfacing, new sidewalks, bike lanes and rain gardens along Hackensack Avenue near Kearny Point. Construction bids are due this week. The town has been awarded a combination of $4.3 million in federal and state grants for the job.
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Ron Leir | For The Observer
Ron Leir has been a newspaperman since the late ’60s, starting his career with The Jersey Journal, having served as a summer reporter during college. He became a full-time scribe in February 1972, working mostly as a general assignment reporter in all areas except sports, including a 3-year stint as an assistant editor for entertainment, features, religion, etc.
He retired from the JJ in May 2009 and came to The Observer shortly thereafter.
He is also a part-time actor, mostly on stage, having worked most recently with the Kearny-based WHATCo. and plays Sunday softball in Central Park, New York