Mayor Robert Jackson and the council delayed a vote on a resolution Tuesday supporting a cooperative effort between Montclair and surrounding municipalities to plan and develop a rail-trail park within Belleville, Bloomfield, Glen Ridge, Montclair and Newark.
Councilor Renee Baskerville commented that the township’s Public Transportation Advisory Committee requested the council table the vote until the committee could make recommendations of its own on.
The plan is to make good use of the old Boonton Line, which runs through the towns and into Hudson County. The rail only passes through about a mile of Montclair territory.
Back in August 2010, the council discussed plans to convert the rarely used railway 11-mile track from Upper Montclair to Montclair State University into a trail for pedestrians and cyclists.
At a meeting in April 2010, the Bloomfield Township Council voted to enter into talks with Montclair, Glen Ridge, Belleville, and Newark to draft a plan to transform the old Boonton Line.
Council Establishes Animal Welfare Advisory Committee
The council unanimously voted to create a new Animal Welfare Advisory Committee, which came as a surprise to volunteers from the shelter.
The new committee will, among other things, advise the council on programs and policies for the shelter; identify and develop grants and other funding sources; explore shared service agreements with surrounding municipalities; and suggest performance measures for the treatment of the township’s animals.
However, the nonprofit Friends of the Montclair Township Animal Shelter President Edie Locke and Vice President Janet Matasic criticized the resolution as being “vague.”
“There are a lot of questions about this,” said Matasic. “There are a lot of things in here ... that’s vague. And being that it’s vague, there is a lot of power that could be given. ... This is very scary in many ways.”
Locke also said the animal shelter volunteers were not informed about the the idea to form a new committee.
“This kind of came out of the blue,” said Locke. “... I don’t know why this wasn’t shown to the animal shelter.”
While Township Manager Marc Dashield admitted the resolution is somewhat vague, he said the committee was purely advisory and would help the shelter.
“This is by no means meant to take over the shelter,” said Dashield. "... This is a way to provide some assistance to the shelter. That’s the intent of the resolution.”
Councilor William Hurlock said this committee was not specific to the animal shelter, but similar to the various other committees in town. The new shelter committee would deal with overall management of animal welfare in the township.
The new committee, said Hurlock, “was designed to deal with certain areas that quite frankly we felt that there was a need for the town to work closely with some of the residents and some of the people that have been involved with the shelter.”