Hopewell Borough January meetings – Council and Planning Board reorganize, focus on safety

Borough Council

The Hopewell Borough Council held its first meeting of the year on Tuesday, January 3. David Mackie was sworn in for a new term, and Krista Weaver was sworn in for a first term.

Arts for the Valley

Carol Lipson, Program Director at Hopewell Valley Arts Council (HVAC), shared a presentation about a new, year-long collaboration, Celebrating the Everyday, planned by HVAC and Seward Johnson Atelier to bring sculptures, exhibits, poetry-readings, talks, and workshops to Hopewell Valley.

As part of the project, a large sculpture, The Awakening by Seward Johnson, which is now on display at Grounds for Sculpture, will be relocated to St. Michael’s Preserve. According to Lipson, the sculpture will be visible from the road and visitors will be able to get close enough to touch it. The cost of moving the sculpture has been paid for by a $175,000 grant from the Atlantic Foundation.

Hopewell Valley also may receive small sculptures during the year to be placed at each school and in Titusville, Pennington, and Hopewell for only the cost of installation. Lipson said the estimated cost of installation is $75,000, so the HVAC plans to seek donations at the individual, small business, and corporate levels. The organization also is planning a fundraiser at the Atelier.

Lipson said the purpose of the year-long art celebration is to attract visitors and tourists, tighten the inter-community bonds in Hopewell Valley, and to drive awareness about the arts. Lipson said that studies have shown that art tourists spend more money when visiting a location than other types of tourists, so the celebration will boost the local economy.

Heidi Wilenius, chair of the Economic Development Committee and local business owner, said that she would love to sit down and talk more with Lipson about the project and would love to become a small business sponsor.

Pedestrian/Bike safety

Next, the conversation continued about how to present the Pedestrian Bicycle Safety Advisory Committee’s(PBSAC) updated recommendations to the public so that it could then be presented to Mercer County.

Michele Hovan, Borough Administrator, said that, originally, the committee was supposed to do an inventory of all streets and make recommendations, but that the committee had gone beyond that. It was more than just a document of recommendations that the Council could pluck from, and instead was more of a planning document. She said it is good, but requires a different process before presentation to Council.

Weaver asked whether the language could be worked out so that it was clear that the list of recommendations included in the larger documents were, in fact, recommendations, and not read as a planning document.

After some back and forth, the other Council members and Hovan agreed that the report could be published on the website if the language could establish the intent as recommendations.

Anne Payton of the PBSAC said the recommendations were low-hanging fruit that she had an inkling the County was willing to accept. She said that the committee was ready to see action taken on the recommendations on the County roads.

“If this becomes a part of the capital plan, how do we afford it?” asked President Sky Morehouse.

Council member Ryan Kennedy said that some of the revisions were simple projects like new paint or revision to paint that would be covered by the County and would not require the Borough to spend money.

The recommendations are now available on the Hopewell Borough website:

Flood Control

Next, the Council approved a first reading and approval of an amendment to the Flood Control Ordinance. The changes are imposed by FEMA so that all municipalities in the State share the same language in their ordinances. The changes were mandatory to remain eligible for the National Flood Insurance program.

Liaison Reports

The Council then gave their Liaison Reports.

Council member Debra Stuhler said that animal control for Hopewell Borough was now under Hopewell Township, and that the health department would also be switching to Hopewell Township by February 1. The Shade Tree Committee was figuring out a way to work with the Borough to get more trees planted. The Recreation Committee had their annual flier in good shape for mailing in the near future.

Weaver said that the PBSAC would be meeting the last Monday of the month.

Kennedy said that as a result of the Safe School inventory, the Borough was awarded a Bronze Stone for safe routes to school.

Mackie said that the water situation continued to be good, and that the PFAS testing was set to be conducted soon.

Morehouse said that EMS had secured a contract with Capital Health for 24-hour ambulance service in Hopewell Valley at a cost of $200K to the municipalities. He said that the group of volunteers who have been serving the community of Hopewell Borough for years providing emergency services was aging with not enough neighbors stepping up to replace them. He once again urged residents to contact the Fire Department to volunteer any services of which they are capable.

Planning Board

The Hopewell Borough Planning Board met on January 11, 2023 and approved several vouchers. David Mackie was sworn in as a Class III, Governing Body Representative. Carolyn Colella was sworn in as alternate #2. Louis Young and Jacqueline Perri were sworn in as Class IV Boardmembers. 

Peter Macholdt was nominated as Board Chair, Mary Lou Ferraro was nominated to Vice Chair, and Maggie Schmitt was nominated to be the Board Secretary until the time that she becomes the Borough Administrator. 

The Board approved several contracts and vouchers. 

The Board discussed and then approved a Master Plan Consistency Review for an amendment to the Flood Control Ordinance.  Mackie explained that the Borough was already doing everything within the ordinance, but that the change was one to “have uniform regulatory framework” among municipalities. He said that the amendment “does not add any new administrative burden.”

The Board approved a roof and floor replacement to a garage at 23 E Broad Street. 

Vice Chair Mary Lou Ferrara said that the Pedestrian, Bicycle, Safety Advisory Committee report was very well and professionally done, and that they were seeking public comment. She encouraged everyone to read it and leave feedback.

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