Still The Best Soapbox In Town

Just as the moon presents many faces to earth, city council can have different appearances meeting to meeting. Such was the case with the meetings at the end and the beginning of the year.

The December 18,2006 meeting was one that a resident/activist could appreciate and the January 2, 2007 was for government technicians.

Lakewood Council’s longstanding tradition of maintaining an open public forum at its meetings came into play for the first meeting. Ward one member Kevin Butler had held a neighborhood meeting at the Clifton Club for Lake Avenue residents concerned about the poor condition of Lake Road between Webb and the Lakewood border. It is not scheduled for repaving for almost ten years based on the engineering criteria used to determine repaving priorities.

Resident Bill Todia wanted council to hear his reasoning for advancing Lake Road on the schedule for repaving. He stated that the roadway had last been repaved 47 years ago. Todia maintained that the Clifton Park portion of Lake received a large number of visitors because of its scenic value. In addition, he pointed out, Lake Road was the only street in Clifton Park that has not been repaved. Finally, he indicated that the road condition was downright dangerous for bike riders which makes its inclusion in the bike path problematic. It is also no longer included in the route for marathons and local running events because its surface is considered hazardous.

Janet Felman of Clifton Boulevard wanted her say, too. The City Planning Commission delivered its report to council on the design of the Clifton Boulevard repaving. Parts of the changes include a median with planters in some portions of the street. Felman said, “It looks fine now except for the potholes, without a median.” She thinks the road is very efficient and worries about emergency vehicles trying to negotiate a median as well as maintenance.

The last resident to bring an issue to councils’ attention that evening was Marcia Graham, also of Clifton Boulevard. She is a proud resident of a very well maintained apartment building along with 14 other tenants. Apparently a new owner is devoting extra effort to the landscaping and there is a question of access to the trash cans by the refuse department. Graham thought it would be helpful to bring the issue which she was discussing with Public Works Director Tony Beno to the attention of the full council.

Finally, at this meeting, Mayor Thomas George and council recognized the long and valuable service of Rita M. Lally who retired from the Community Development Department. Director Thomas Jordan said, “She was the institutional memory of the department. She computerized it and brought it into the 21st century.

The Mayor said, “We’re going to miss Rita. She developed a prototype with this department.

Lally said, “I enjoyed it. I felt I made a contribution and have always felt that there has been good leadership in the city.”

While that end of the year council meeting was the quintessential demonstration of government interaction with citizens, the first of the year meeting was textbook legislative efficiency.

Council president Robert Seelie called the meeting to order at 7:33. The beginning of the year brings with it a flurry of council and mayoral appointments to the various boards and commissions which make Lakewood government work.

Council appointments included the following: Nathan Kelly and Thomas Kilbane to the Lakewood Hospital Association Board; Kevin Spellacy to the Civil Service Commission; Ruth Ann Gillett to the Planning Commission; James Dolce and Rich Sicha to the Lakewood Heritage Advisory Board.

Mayoral appointments included Moira Dugan and Holly Whisman to the Community Relations Advisory Commission, Curt Brosky to the Lakewood Hospital Board, and Thomas Monahan to the Board of Zoning Appeals.

The agenda then continued with mostly second readings of ordinances which were carried over from last year.

In new business Human Resources Director Terry Novak sent to council an agreement between the city and Lakewood’s firefighters. The committee of the whole will meet to review the details of this bargaining agreement.

Approaching the 8 o’clock mark, Seelie asked if there was any other business. The Mayor commented that this short meeting will save a few hundred dollars in “comp” time. Taking his cue, Seelie adjourned the meeting at 8:02.

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Volume 3, Issue 1, Posted 2:02 PM, 01.05.07