The Pennington Borough Council met Monday evening via zoom for its regular monthly meeting, focusing mostly on personnel matters.
Council member Deborah Gnatt, the liaison to the personnel committee, announced that two promotions were proposed in the Public Works Department. Morris Fabian was promoted to foreman and Dave Stout to senior crew member. The resolutions proposing the promotions were unanimously approved.
Gnatt also announced changes in the Pennington Borough Police Department. Previously, the Council had approved expansion of its police department from four officers to five (plus Chief Doug Pinelli). The Council on Monday discussed hiring an officer to fill that newly created position, as well as a possible new vacancy, as one of Pennington’s current officers has applied for a job outside of the Borough so his position may need to be filled in the near future.
Discussion among the Council members acknowledged that the small size of the force results in more than optimal turnover in the Department, requiring backfill of positions as they become vacant. Council member Kit Chandler, liaison to public safety, said that the Borough is considering a scenario in which the force would consist of the chief, two sergeants, and four officers but no decision has been made yet.
“We are still crunching numbers,” Chandler stated. “Doug [Pinelli] has been on the job two months and we’ve made huge strides but there is still work to do. “
As a temporary measure the Council approved two resolutions to hire new police officers on a probationary basis. Council Member Glen Griffiths, the liaison to the finance committee, said he thinks it is more fiscally sound to pay for probationary officers than pay for overtime if the force becomes understaffed.
In another public safety announcement, Pinelli announced a Memorandum of Understanding with the Mercer County prosecutor’s office to cover the Borough Police Department for internal affairs. He explained that, before his promotion to Chief, he was the internal affairs officer and he remains the only member of the force certified to conduct internal affairs investigations; however, as chief, he may not conduct an internal investigation. Pinelli said that this would be a temporary measure until Pennington’s officers can be certified, which should happen soon via an online class. Pinelli indicated the Prosecutor’s office is providing the service to the Borough free of charge. The Council voted to approve the resolution.
For the environmental commission, Chandler announced that the commission is moving forward with its environmental resource inventory, which will be included in the Borough Master Plan. She mentioned that the Hopewell Valley Green Team will be hosting Styrofoam and other hard to recycle items collection on September 12 from 12 – 3pm in the parking lot behind Hopewell Borough Hall, 88 East Broad Street. Details are here.
Council member Chico Marciante announced for public works that garbage pick up is back to two days per week and leaf pick-up will begin October 1.
Council member Beverly Mills announced that the library is now in Stage 3 of its reopening plan and directed residents to the library website for details.
Council member Elizabeth Semple announced for the shade tree commission that they are working on a tree inventory. This led to discussion of Kunkel Park and the announcement that the park playground is now open. Borough Administrator Eileen Heinzel indicated that the kids have been playing there, and that the Parks and Recreation Department hopes for a socially-distant grand reopening the weekend of September 19 or the weekend after.
Mayor Joe Lawver announced that the bid for energy aggregation came back 10% higher than PSE&G so, he explained, customers will see no change on their bill this year. He said that it may be rebid at a later point.
Finally, a resolution was approved to contract with Scorpion Outdoors Deer Management for implementation of a deer management program. Discussion by the Council included a suggestion forwarded by Maricante from Dan Rubinstein, of the Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space, that the Borough do a survey in December and March to quantify the impact of the program.
The next meeting of the Pennington Borough Council will be October 5 at 7pm.