Police Dept. Changes, School Turf Possible 2013 Issues in Montville
A look ahead at what could continue to make news in the new year.
As we looked back on 2012 and recapped some of the year's biggest stories in our month-by-month Year in Review, we noted some of the issues that not only made headlines on Montville Patch throughout the past year, but reached some form of conclusion or resolution.
What we did not include, at least in most cases, were the issues that were stuck in limbo or will continue on into the new year. Heading into 2013, here are a few of the issues we think may continue to come up:
Toward the end of the year, township committee members voted to restore Montville sewer rates to what they were before they decided on a lower rate in July scheduled to begin in the new year. The committee was forced to go back on the lower rates after changes in the metering system of the renovated Parsippany Wastewater Treatment Plant showed Montville's costs to be higher than originally estimated. Officials will continue to discuss the impact of this in the new year, as well as possibly lowering the sewer connection fee after one committee member said he feels the Montville fee is too high when compared with neighboring towns'.
After the township committee heard recommendations made by an external consulting firm on changes to staffing, management and procedures for the Montville Township Police Department, many of the recommendations could be implemented. Committee members seemed to have no objections to the ideas raised by Robert Finn, a consultant with the Matrix Group, during his public presentation and PBA Local 140 President Tom Mooney said there was "nothing earth-shattering" about the recommendations. One of the staffing recommendations, to reduce staff by one captain's position, will be possible in the new year through attrition after the retirement of five officers.
Despite school district leaders' and community members' explanations of why artificial turf is necessary, in their opinions, on the Montville Township High School field, voters rejected a referendum for the school board to use $990,000 in surplus funds to construct the field in September 2011. But the issue may not be completely dead. School district officials have mentioned in meetings this year that there may be alternate ways to fund the project without using district funds, including selling the naming rights to the field.
When the township acquired a parcel of land off of River Road with $1.3 million in county open space funds, it was primarily so that development could not occur on the site, further creating potential for flooding downstream after major storms. But township officials have also said the land could be used for passive recreation, including walking trails. Those recreational opportunities had not yet been decided on in 2012, but could be in the new year.