Home » Hopewell Borough hopes grant will bring big improvements to pedestrian safety

Hopewell Borough hopes grant will bring big improvements to pedestrian safety

by Amie Rukenstein

At the September Hopewell Borough Council meeting, Council member Krista Weaver announced plans to apply for a Safe Routes to School grant to cover rapidly-flashing, pedestrian-controlled beacons at more crosswalks. It also would cover school zone overhead flashing radar signs approaching each side of the elementary school on Princeton Avenue, a crosswalk on Model Avenue to Louellen, the establishment of sidewalks where none currently exist, and “Share the Road” painted on Borough roadways.

Weaver said the Council had a good chance of being awarded the grant, which does not require any matching funds from the municipality. She said that the Pedestrian Bicycle Safety Advisory Committee was doing the heavy lifting to apply for the grant.

Councilmember David Mackie responded that  the grant seemed like a perfect fit and that the timing was excellent.

Mayor Paul Anzano warned that some homeowners do not want sidewalks because homeowners are responsible for sidewalk maintenance even though sidewalks are a public right of way.

Castoro Building

Melissa Cookman, local resident, asked several questions during the public session. She inquired about the progress of renovating the Castoro building on East Broad Street after the applicants were granted site plan approval from the Planning Board without moving forward with any of the plans.

The Council said that it would be a question to present to the Planning Board. Members of the Planning Board who sit on the Council said they were unsure of when or if approved site plans expired.

Public Notice

Cookman also inquired about what she said were inconsistencies in how residents were contacted about the water crisis in Hopewell Borough when a recent water main break threatened Hopewell’s water supply.

Council responded that residents were notified by the reverse 9-1-1 system and the Borough email, however they are services to which residents must voluntarily subscribe. Mackie and Council member Ryan Kennedy discussed public outreach to make more people aware of the reverse 9-1-1 system.

Resident Sheri Hook approached the Council to express admiration for the water report that was recently mailed to residents. She said that it was detailed and easy to follow. She praised Mackie for saving the town money by finding solutions to the issues with the water system.

Outdoor dining

Cookman asked how the Council would address the expiration of State outdoor dining exemptions. Mackie said the exemptions were not expiring until the end of 2024 with the possibility that they would be expanded beyond that by the State. He said the Borough was willing to create something more expansive with outdoor dining than what existed prior to Covid when the state exemptions did expire.

Lawsuit

Cookman asked about rumors circulating in town about a lawsuit against Hopewell Borough by Sourland Provisions. The Council confirmed that the lawsuit exists and directed residents to view publicly available documents online for further information. (Click here for previous MercerMe coverage of the suit).

Scot Pannepacker, Hopewell resident, urged the Council to have a conversation about the alleged ethics violations in the lawsuit so that it doesn’t happen again. He said that he was upset reading about it in newspapers, because he had thought Hopewell was above politics. He asked if the legal fees were being paid by the taxpayers.

The Borough attorney said the Borough does pay for litigation. She said that the State and local governments have ethics laws already in place, and that potential ethics complaints are reviewed on a case by case basis.

Pannepacker said that the Council should step back and process what can be learned from this.

Sewerage Authority

Gail Downey, Chairman of the Stony Brook Regional Sewerage Authority, approached the Council to announce that Hopewell Township now had a contract and approvals to upgrade the Hopewell plant, which will add much more resiliency to the system.

Crime

Clark Reed, resident, asked that Hopewell Borough leaders join together with law enforcement and Hopewell Township to combat rising crime in Hopewell Valley.

Anzano said that residents should take precautions, such as locking their doors and vehicles and removing electronics from vehicles, because there has been an uptick in crime in the past twelve months. He said the police are doing everything that they can do to combat the problem.

Improvements and appointments

The New Jersey Historic Trust is partially funding renovations to the Hopewell Train Station and the Borough is ready to move forward with accepting bids from pre-qualified contractors that have been reviewed and vetted.

Ordinance Number 869, the Flood Control Ordinance Amendment, was adopted by the council. Mackie explained that the Borough’s flood ordinance needed to match the Department of Environmental Protections standards on issues like tree removal and leaf piles in the street. He said that in the future, the town will have to grapple with enforcement of the new standards. He would like to see a balance of effective enforcement that isn’t Draconian.

The council also approved minutes from several meetings, approved a motion to hire a library assistant and to approve claims for payments, appointed Christine Crawford to the Library Board of Trustees, and proclaimed September as Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

Liaison Reports:

Debra Stuhler said that the public health and shade tree committee were meeting. She said the recreation committee had the Hopewell Harvest Fair, Pumpkin Palooza, and Halloween Parade slated in the coming weeks.

Mackie said that equipment will be installed mid-month that should hopefully be in place for several years to monitor the Borough for water leaks. The municipality will also be monitoring the reservoir to check for leaks, and he has an upcoming meeting with DEP after suspending work on a water treatment system while the Borough explores options for selling, leasing, and keeping the waterworks. Mackie said that he is also pursuing a grant opportunity in the meantime to help fund a water treatment system.

Kennedy said that the senior picnic was rescheduled for the same week as the Council meeting.

Weaver gave a huge thank you to PBSAC members and invited residents to attend the committee’s meetings.

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Contact us: [email protected]

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Hopewell, New Jersey 08525

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