Residents and visitors to Kearny may soon have reason to rejoice — or be completely baffled and befuddled — as the mayor and Town Council had preliminary talks of hiring a mobile-based company to assist with the collection of fees at parking meters.
Though formal action was not voted upon (it was originally on the agenda for the Sept. 5 council meeting) it appears the town’s governing body is considering entering into agreement with ParkMobile LLC — also known as OMNIA Partners — to accept parking payments at meters via a mobile application.
If approved, ParkMobile would be an additional way to pay to park, via that app, using a credit or debit card, Apple Pay, PayPal and other digital-payment platforms. However, the old-fashioned method of paying 25¢ or whatever the fees might be with coins will still be accepted at every meter.
ParkMobile will add a surcharge to the parking fees for the convenience of not having to scrounge around to find quarters and then trudge to meters. The company will also allow parkers whose time has expired to re-up for additional time sans having to run outside to feed the meters with more coins.
There was some concern raised by residents about the app, however, including Angela Kolbinger, of the Second Ward. She says no matter what, she won’t be able to figure out how to use the app. She was assured, however, she could continue to pay with coins. But as a response to all this, the mayor and Council said it would do all it could to educate residents and visitors how to use the app.
That was all brought upon by resident Marybeth Kennedy, who spoke at the meeting and explained that to her, use of the ParkMobile app is easy and would be welcome here — as it is in parts of Harrison and East Newark currently and in Bloomfield, where she used to work. But she also noted it will be vitally important for the town to teach the less tech savvy how to use the app properly, and this was something on which the governing body concurred.
Once details of how the app itself works are made available, The Observer plans to offer a step-by-step tutorial in an upcoming print edition — and a step-by-step video online and on social media channels. You may download ParkMobile now to get a head start at either the Apple Store for iPhone users or at the Google Play Store for Android users.
We’ll have more on this story in the coming weeks.
Parking meetings by ward
Meanwhile, town will host meetings in each of its four wards for residents to offer input on the parking situation. All meetings are set to take place at 6:30 p.m.
In the First Ward, the meeting takes place Sept 18 at the American Legion on Belgrove Drive.
In the Third Ward, it’ll be Sept. 21 at Roosevelt School on Kearny Avenue.
And lastly in the Fourth Ward, the meeting takes place Oct. 16 at Schuyler School on Forest Street.
Two of the meetings, however, will take place concurrently with Kearny Board of Education meetings — Sept. 18 and Oct. 16. When asked by Board of Education President Samantha Paris to consider changing those meetings to ones that did not coincide with board meetings, the mayor and Town Council declined the request.
Conversely, interim Mayor Peter P. Santana and Second Ward Councilman Richard Konopka said they’d remain at the parking meetings until a time when anyone attending the board meetings could then come to the parking meeting to offer input after the aforementioned school board meetings end.
Two deputy OEM coordinators appointed
The mayor and Town Council also appointed Police Officer Richard Poplaski Jr. and Fire Chief Joseph Mastandrea to serve, in an unpaid capacity, as Deputy Emergency Management Coordinators.
The two will assist Police Chief George King who is the overall coordinator.
King said the decision to appoint two experienced public-safety officers to assist him was multi-faceted.
First, during COVID, King says he realized the immense amount of work the previous deputy coordinator, retired police Sgt. Peter Blair, had to perform. Having two deputies will place a less significant burden on the two.
Additionally, having a cross section of deputies from different public-safety sectors, will also be a great benefit to the town overall.
Four new firefighters hired
Four new firefighters — Gustavo Martinez, Justin Erezuma, Matthew Duane and Zachary Myers — will head to the Morris County Public Safety Training Academy, Morristown, for training and they’ll make an entry-level salary of $40,000 a year during that time.
Five new laborers hired
Santana, meanwhile, offered a resolution for the town to hire Nicholas Kaminski, Robert Henderson, Travis Mahler, Michael MacQuade and John Nowak to the full-time, non-competitive position of laborer.
As non-competitive laborers, they will not be civil-service employees.
New councilman a no-show?
Kearny has a new Second Ward Councilman — Dennis Solano, who replaced Santana when he accepted his appointment as interim mayor — and he was absent from the Sept. 5 meeting. It would have marked the first full meeting the new lawmaker attended at which he would have been able to vote. (He joined the council at its last meeting, but the town attorney advised him not to vote on any ordinances or resolutions since he hadn’t at that moment had a chance to review any of them.)
What happened to Lyla?
Lastly, based on a question posed by resident Melanie Ryan, it was officially confirmed Lyla DeCastro is no longer the confidential aide to the mayor. Town Attorney James Bruno said the position is one that does not require the consent of the mayor and Town Council and the person who works in that capacity is appointed solely at the discretion the mayor.
That did not sit too well with Councilwoman Carol Jean Doyle, who noted in the past, whenever DeCastro was up for appointment and re-appointment, it was done so annually by resolution with the consent of the entire council.
“It’s always been done that way,” Doyle said.
She also says she still wants the new appointment to be voted on.
“I want to have the salary on the agenda so we could vote on it,” Doyle said. “My understanding for the last 27 years is we the mayor and Council could not spend taxpayer dollars without a resolution or ordinance.”
There was no discussion as to why DeCastro, the affable, popular and long-time aide to former Mayor Alberto G. Santos, and sister of First Ward Councilwoman Marytrine DeCastro, was relieved of her duties in favor of another person.
Lyla DeCastro, also a deputy clerk in town, will continue in that capacity.
Learn more about the writer ...
Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.