Hopewell Township Committee warns residents to stay COVID-smart

Hopewell Township meeting 11/23/2020

The Hopewell Township Committee met on Monday evening at its regular meeting to discuss several issues including COVID updates, new public works hires, and tree lighting.

COVID cases have dramatically increased in Hopewell Township in the past week. Committeemember Julie Blake shared, “New numbers that came out this week… 50 verified cases in our town between last and this week which is almost two-thirds of the total numbers since March. This is a rapid increase. I anticipate we’ll probably see another uptick. That being said, a lot of people are wondering where these cases are happening because they see people out wearing masks. If they even know where they are getting it from, it is from small family gatherings… Right now, a lot of people are reporting that they do not know where they had the contact.”

Mayor Kristin McLaughlin reiterated Blake’s message and urged people to “do your part to protect your neighbors and do your part to protect yourself. We cannot afford to take risks that don’t even seem that risky but are contributing to a massive problem.”

With regard to precautions, Blake said, “I’m behaving like I did in the beginning. I’m assuming everyone is positive.” Blake, liaison to the Township Health Department, said with regard to holiday celebrations: “Be careful and if you welcome friends or family from out of town, recommend that you self-isolate for 2 weeks.”

The Committee heard an update from the Township’s new police director, Bob Karmazin, and approved the search for a secretary for the Police Department. Karmazin said he has begun meeting with the community and has reviewed the PD saying that they are “a competent and solid department”.

The Township will be hosting a virtual tree-lighting this year on December 7, according to Committeemember Kevin Kuchinski. “We want to bring people together but physically distanced,” said Kuchinski.

Additionally, Communities of Light, the annual fundraiser and awareness-raiser event for women who are victims of domestic violence or sexual assault, will  be held this year and also will be included in the Township’s virtual Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony on December 7.  For details and locations to purchase luminaries, see this link.

The Parks and Recreation Department is looking into bringing new activities to the community including a potential skating rink during the winter season, said Kuchinski, who said more information would be forthcoming.

The Committee warned residents to be mindful of deer hunters when enjoying the outdoors. At the time of the meeting, deer management fulfilled approximately 40% of the total goal. Katarnyak reminded hikers to wear blaze-orange to be seen by hunters.

Public works’ new mechanic hire, Maximilian Farina, was approved by the Committee and introduced by public works director, George Snyder. 

Senior services is offering several engaging opportunities including a virtual cookie exchange for seniors, as well as and crafts and activities on its website. For more information, please see http://hopewelltwp.org/177/Senior-Services.

The Committee approved the ordinance establishing standard design specifications and construction details for public sanctuary sewer collection facilities. Mark Katarnyak, the Township community development director and Township engineer, explained, “We maintain certain pump stations and sewer systems in town. With the inclusion of affordable housing development in the future, we anticipate the systems will expand so it is appropriate to establish a… minimum set of standards and create uniformity for maintenance cost-purposes.”

Moores Mill Mount Rose Road will be undergoing a width expansion as part of the transfer of ownership of the golf course from private ownership to the County. The Township approved an ordinance permitting a strip dedication along the road to give the half-width of desired right of way, explained Katarnyak.

The Committee approved the renewal of the long-standing shared service agreement with Hopewell Borough for police. 

In preservation news, the Committee approved a resolution recommending the acquisition of development easements for farmland preservation proposed by the Mercer County Agricultural Development Board on a parcel on both sides of Bear Tavern Road known as “The Kerr Farm”. The property has been under discussion for preservation by the County for many years, said Katarnyak. According to the resolution, “Hopewell Township finds that perpetual agricultural development easements on these farms are consistent with the planning goals and objectives of the municipality.” 

“This is a wonderful bonus and a great opportunity for everybody,” said McLaughlin.

The next Hopewell Township Committee meeting is scheduled for Monday, December 7, 2020 at 7pm. Please review the meeting agenda and/or Township calendar prior for time change, as most Committee meetings are being held at 5pm. 

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