Home News Hopewell Borough adds public comment period, looks to helping small businesses and protecting the environment

Hopewell Borough adds public comment period, looks to helping small businesses and protecting the environment

by Aaron Twitchell

A steady stream of residents filled the lower lobby of Borough Hall for its February 1 meeting of the Borough Council. After concluding its Executive session, Council invited folks into the meeting space and convened the public session. In a recent change to its proceedings, newly-sworn in Mayor Ryan Kennedy reminded attendees that there would be two public comment sessions, one at the beginning and one at the end of each meeting.

David Ackerman of Prospect St. spoke first. He is proposing that Hopewell Borough prepare and apply for recognition by Dark Skies International, an organization devoted to “restoring the nighttime environment and protecting communities from the harmful effects of light pollution”. After a warm reception, Council indicated their support and invited Ackerman to prepare written materials on which Council could act. The remaining three public comments referred to a recent Planning Board meeting regarding local restaurant Aunt Chubby’s. Most reflections were positive in support not only of Aunt Chubby’s but also of Council’s response to what some termed a fiasco, although concerns related to small business more generally also were raised.

Once minutes from the previous meeting were approved, several ordinances were given their obligatory “first read”. The first read of ordinances notably do not contain discussion; they are simply read and Council must then vote on whether or not they will be introduced for fuller consideration, which would take place at the next meeting for which the ordinances appear on the docket.

The first ordinance concerned restoration costs for Hopewell Railroad Station. Kennedy offered a brief overview of the project, explaining that bids came in much higher than anticipated to the tune of $250,000 over expectations. Despite eligibility for a State grant—and optimism that work will eventually be completed—the Borough will need to double-down on efforts to control costs and complete the project.

The second ordinance concerned Council’s program to perform lead testing for certain residences in the Borough while the third describeed the water main replacement on Newell Place, adjacent to Hart Ave., on the north end of the Borough. Motions to introduce all three ordinances were carried.

Following the first reads, motions to approve Resolutions 2024-29 through 2024-36 were carried, notable among them being Shared Services agreements for a Senior Coordinator and Recycling Events with Hopewell Township, and financing details for solid waste collection and the aforementioned water main replacement. Other than brief explanations on the financing, no other discussions took place.

Next, Council liaisons gave committee reports. Although each committee focuses on their specific projects and responsibilities, woven throughout reports was enthusiasm for renewed interest in small business development in the downtown area of the Borough. From the Green Team, which focuses on sustainability, to the Economic Development committee, most groups touched on how their respective goals intersect with offering a friendly and safe business environment along Broad and adjoining sections of the Borough. There was a palpable optimism in each report and during the brief discussions that followed, that economic success, safety and well-being, and environmental responsibility are mutually achievable.

For example, Council member Krista Weaver reported on the Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Committee’s work to reduce speed limits and increase visibility for crosswalks and bike lanes, which naturally allows for increased exposure of downtown businesses by forcing drivers to slow down and account for their surroundings—like signs and banners. Or, consider how the work of the Green Team can lead to incentives for small businesses to maximize their sustainability practices.

Regarding the ongoing saga of the Borough’s water infrastructure, results for PFAS testing have come out within normal limits—good news for both residents and Borough engineers. The report from the Water committee also revealed that the Borough has been overcharged by NJ American Water based on the latter’s estimated use billing procedures. Rates will be adjusted for up to 20% cheaper, reflecting less overall use by Borough residents.

More than once, Kennedy reminded committees to ensure their website presence includes up-to-date reports and data for viewing by Borough residents. Increased transparency and better communication were both prominent campaign goals for several new Council members. Residents are encouraged to visit the Borough website to read reports, review goals and data, and to better understand the work of standing committees and sub-committees.

Kennedy concluded liaison reports with his own. Following through on his commitment to increased engagement with residents, he informed the public of his “no appointment office hours” at Borough Hall. Every other Wednesday at 1pm and every second Saturday at 9am, residents are invited to drop-in to Borough Hall to engage with Kennedy, who concluded his remarks by offering his personal thanks to residents, members of Council, and the Planning Board for their work leading up to and during the Aunt Chubby’s meeting.

Highlighting the second public comment session was the young duo of Ben & Lucy, residents of Hopewell Borough and students at HV Central High School. Each identified themselves as members of Sunrise Movement, a youth movement to combat climate change. The pair offered their support for Council’s work thus far, mentioned how climate activism can benefit businesses in Hopewell, and called on government and citizens alike to take their youth seriously regarding the future of our environment. Other speakers congratulated the Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Committee for its achievements while pleading for greater enforcement along Greenwood Ave., and inquired about more information on the lead paint inspection program currently in development by Council.

The meeting was adjourned shortly before 8:30pm. The next Council meeting is scheduled for March 7 at 7pm.

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MercerMe is Hopewell Valley’s own digital news source, delivering in-depth, hyperlocal coverage that informs and strengthens the community.

 

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About Us

MercerMe is the only hyperlocal, independent, online news outlet serving Hopewell Valley in Mercer County, New Jersey.

Contact us: [email protected] 

Search Our Archives

About Us

MercerMe is Hopewell Valley’s own digital news source, delivering in-depth, hyperlocal coverage that informs and strengthens the community.

 

Contact us: [email protected]

PO Box 260

Hopewell, New Jersey 08525

Search Our Stories