Quick Takes: Municipal news May 18-22, 2015

Water main break causes boil water advisory

Raritan Avenue is open for traffic again after a water main under the road broke at Ninth Avenue Tuesday morning, May 19, and forced police to reroute traffic.

Borough officials started receiving calls about the break between 10:20 a.m. and 10:25 a.m., and the proceeded to close the road between Sixth Avenue and Tenth Avenue. Crews with the Department of Public Works by late Tuesday evening were able to repair the road, which visibly had split along its center seam and was lifted from its bed.

“The pavers are out to repave the surface. That should be done this evening (Tuesday, May 19),” Council President Susan Welkovits told the public during the Borough Council meeting Tuesday night. “Later this week we will have them out to finish the repaving.”

A boil water advisory remains in effect across the borough until officials receive assurance from Middlesex Water Company, which provides the borough’s drinking water, that there is no contamination.

The frequency of breaks and water advisories has been a source of frustration to Highland Park residents. Social media on Tuesday lit up with complaints about needing to boil water, and the borough’s perceived failure to resolve the problems posed by its aging infrastructure.

The pipes that deliver Highland Park’s drinking water first were laid in the 1920s. Breaks in the winter have been blamed on the subtle shifts and heave caused by cold temperatures that freeze the ground below the roads. Tuesday’s break was blamed on the heavy load on Raritan Avenue.

“It is located below Raritan Avenue, and gets a lot of impact from trucks and cars,” said Mayor Gayle Brittler. “That traffic is what finally impacted the water main below it.”

As one of the major north-south arteries in this part of the state, Raritan Avenue carries about 25,000 motor vehicles each day, the mayor said.

For those wanting to know where the borough will go from here, the mayor on Tuesday night referred to an upcoming report on the state of the borough’s infrastructure that is about to be released to the public. This report will provide guidance, considering both the need for repairs and the increased demand posed by new development, she has said. The population of Highland Park is expected to increase 12 percent, just from the applications already approved.

The task force preparing the report is led by resident Clinton Andrews, professor in the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University.

“I am acutely aware of the impact all of the new development will be having on our infrastructure here in Highland Park,” the mayor said. “It’s important for us to plan for growth.”

According to Borough Administrator Kathleen Kovach, the borough so far this year has spent $50,769.82 for unexpected maintenance on its water infrastructure caused by breaks or other problems.

Local student recognized

The council took a moment at the start of its meeting to commend a local student for a good showing in a statewide contest.

Miriam Rosenbluth, a student at Highland Park High School, was named a semifinalist in the Louis Bay 2nd Future Municipal Leaders Scholarship Competition. The competition, run by the New Jersey State League of Municipalities, awarded $1,000 scholarships to a total three winners statewide.

Miriam and other contestants competed with essays written on the theme “What My Municipal Government Does Best.” and seeks to advance the virtues of elected and volunteer members of municipal government.

The scholarship competition was named in honor of Louis Bay II, mayor emeritus of Hawthorne, who served a term as president of the League and was a League board member during the six decades he was mayor.

Miriam was not present to receive her semifinalist’s certificate, which she will be given at a later date.

Sponsor the fireworks

The Highland Park Department of Community Services is looking for sponsors for the upcoming Independence Day festivities.

The event has an expected price tag of $8,000. In previous years the borough split responsibility for the celebration with New Brunswick, but this year the New Brunswick has chosen to have its own celebration. Highland Park’s event is scheduled for July 2 with a rain date of July 5.

Depending on the amount they contribute, event sponsors can receive mention in print media connected with the Independence Day festivities, secure a booth on the festival grounds in Donaldson Park, and get a name on the event banner, according to the Department of Community Services.

The annual celebration will be held in Donaldson Park, with a scheduled official kickoff at 5 p.m. Fireworks are scheduled to follow at 9:20 p.m. Plans call for food vendors, live music and other activities and demonstrations.

For more information, or to help sponsor the fireworks, call the Department of Community Services at (732) 819-0052.

Patrolman named grand marshal

Patrolman Sean Bibby will be the grand marshal of the borough’s annual Memorial Day parade.

The borough’s Memorial Day observances begin at 8 a.m. and include brief visits to each of the borough’s monuments to fallen veterans. After the conclusion of that procession, municipal officials will make the trip to Livingston Avenue and George Street in New Brunswick for an 11 a.m. Memorial Day service there.

After the city’s service, New Brunswick and Highland Park begin their annual joint parade, which crosses the Albany Street Bridge into Highland Park and ends at the Doughboy Monument at Raritan and Woodbridge avenues. After the parade there will be a ceremony to honor fallen veterans.

Officer Bibby, who served in the U.S. Navy, has been with the Police Department for a little more than a year.

Library book sale breaks fund-raising record 

The receipts haven’t all been added, but Councilman Joshua Fine has declared this year’s used book sale a record-breaker. 

Friends of the Highland Park Library held its annual used book sale last weekend, on May 16-17, 2015. The event, which has been held annually for more than 30 years, raised “about $7,800,” Mr. Fine said. 

The book sale reportedly is one of the biggest in Middlesex County. 

Recreation Advisory Committee seeks volunteers 

If you have a passion for recreation and the desire to pitch in, the Recreation Advisory Committee wants put that passion to good use.

Committee members, who meet quarterly, offer input on current and future activities designed to enhance the lives of borough residents, such as the upcoming Senior Citizens Prom at the Senior/Youth Center on June 17.

Garbage pickup pilot program begins July 19

If you get a new garbage can from the borough, please don’t use it until July 19.

That’s the message from Council President Susan Welkovits to residents of the Triangle section of Highland Park. “Certain parts” of the Triangle will be getting new, 95-gallon trash cans as the town pilots a new trash collection system, starting July 19.



One thought on “Quick Takes: Municipal news May 18-22, 2015

  1. Traffic is the reason for the water main breaks? You’ve got to be kidding me. How about allowing developers to level 2 bedroom 1.5 bathroom homes and build 5 bedroom 4 bathroom monstrosities that take over the whole yard. The infrastructure wasn’t built to handle this major influx of water and waste. Better yet, let’s take Cleveland avenue and add 500 more bathrooms and 400 more cars. Bet that will help traffic and the water mains. RIP Highland Park of our childhood.