Parking Permit Woes and Hanukkah at City Hall


Image captured from the Clifton Cable TV broadcast in August.

Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, following the work session, started with a welcome to Boy Scout Troop 21 who attended the meeting to observe, fulfilling a badge requirement.

With both Councilwoman Rosemary Pino and Councilwoman Lauren Murphy missing from the dais, the council had a harder time passing some key ordinances. The second reading of the ordinance to establish the parking permit fee for visitor passes failed, as only five commissioners were present and Councilman Tony Latona and Councilwoman Mary Sadrakula both voted no.

The permit parking fee was recently raised from $1 for the life of the resident to $10 per year. Visitor permits were to be $10. The council approved the $10 fee for residents but voted down the ordinance for visitor parking permits. City Manager Nick Villano later said that in failing to pass this ordinance, the council left a situation where visitors to a permit-only street could be cited for parking without a permit. He said this was an unusual situation and he would be consulting the legal department for their opinion on what this meant for the city, whether there is now no mechanism for receiving visitor permits at all or whether the city will revert to the previous $1 fee for these temporary passes.

The second reading to amend the table of organization for the police department and add 24 new positions also failed, not even reaching a vote. Councilman Joe Kolodziej motioned to table it until the full council could vote but there was no second.

The council also voted on a first reading of an ordinance to establish an Open Space Trust Fund Advisory Committee, which would recommend how to spend the money the newly approved Open Space Trust Fund will bring in. The special tax to support the trust fund was established by voters, appearing on the ballot as a public question. The council voted for this ordinance with the stipulation that it include two non-voting members of the governing body, one alternate, and seven members of the public. There will be a second reading of this ordinance before it’s officially adopted.

During his privilege, Villano brought up an email he’d received from a resident about having members of the public come to light the large menorah at City Hall for each of the eight nights of Hanukkah. In previous years, the mayor had “lit” each night’s flame (the hanukkiah - its proper name - at City Hall is electric and has no actual flames). Villano supported the request, saying that he would like to give the resident the authority to proceed if there were no objections. Kolodziej made a motion to approve this and Sadrakula seconded it.

The Clifton Jewish Center, located on Delaware Avenue, will lead the community in the lighting for the fifth night, on December 11 at about 4:00. There will be no indoor celebration as there has been in the past. The community is invited to attend on this, and any other evening. The lighting on most nights will likely occur around 5:00, though on Friday it will happen around 4:00, before dark and the beginning of Shabbat.

Some highlights from the commissioners’ privilege included:

Sadrakula shared that there is a Third River meeting scheduled for November 28th at 6 pm. The meeting will be held at School 16 and everyone is welcome to attend.

Gibson invited the community to stop in at Agamie’s Deli and George’s Coffee Shop. Both establishments have gift certificates available to cover the cost of some food for anyone who is hungry. New donations are always welcome. On December 1st Botany will host its annual tree lighting in Sullivan Square.

Kolodziej, referencing comments made earlier in the meeting by resident Matt Ward, said that what the county is planning on doing on Allwood Road “is a crime” and asked to talk about potential options in the next closed session. You can read more about the plan HERE.

Latona announced that Saturday, November 25th is Small Business Saturday in Clifton. He encouraged residents to shop local and to support our small businesses.

Mayor Grabowski shared the good news that Representative Bill Pascrell brought money to Clifton from the state to fund the hiring of six new police officers. Grabowski closed with some thoughts about tomorrow’s holiday. “It’s about family,” he said of Thanksgiving. “We should look a little deeper into what’s really important.”

The agenda can be found HERE and you can watch the meeting HERE.

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