Mayor Burrell’s September 28, 2020 Council Comments

Posted: September 29, 2020

Let’s Work Together

My life experiences have taught me to never assume that I am always right about every issue; my life experiences have also taught me to, at least, listen to and objectively evaluate the point of view of those who disagree with me.

I never forget these life lessons, and have applied them to all of my decision making concerning the issue of where to locate the municipal bicycle pump track.

All indications are that my enthusiasm for a municipal bicycle pump track is shared not only by the council, but also the overwhelming majority of Vernon residents.

However, there has been some disagreement that has come in the form of a few individuals who have been quite upfront with their intent to ensure that the pump track is located in a place other than the location that I have chosen.

As part of what most Vernon residents view as an effort to pressure the mayor and council into changing our minds and agreeing to build the pump track at a location, or locations, that one resident has chosen, this resident has gone so far as to claiming in internet posts, and in an official complaint to the New Jersey DEP, that:

  1. The proposed pump track site is a toxic waste dump;
  2. Our town is using the proposed pump track site as “a solid waste dump”;
  3. Our town is “burying asphalt, street sweepings, and construction lumber” on the proposed pump track site; and…
  4. This resident “has photos and drone footage” supporting these claims.

As my life experiences have taught me to do, I have listened closely to these claims; and, as part of my effort to objectively evaluate these claims, I have:

  1. Walked the proposed pump track site three separate times searching for evidence of the conditions that have been made in these claims; and…
  2. I have joined with the council in obtaining the services of one of New Jersey’s preeminent environmental consulting and engineering firms, Excel Environmental Resources, to investigate the proposed pump track site for any signs of the claims made by this resident.

Excel Environmental Resources tested 16 different samples taken from the small portion of the 11.3 acres site that we plan to use to build our town’s bicycle pump track. Not one of these samples, nor any of Excel Environmental Resources physical examination of the site, reveal any indication that this site was in any way toxic.

In addition, as part of the mayor’s and council’s effort to be totally transparent about this matter, the results of the Excel Environmental Resources report were reviewed in detail by the municipal engineer at the August 24 council meeting.

And finally, on September 9, the DEP advised the mayor’s office that in response to the complaint filed by a town’s resident, the DEP had recently visited the site on which we plan to build our town’s bicycle pump track. The DEP’s communication did not mention finding any indication of a toxic waste site, but did state that the DEP inspector noticed that there seemed to be significantly less material on the site than there was when the DEP visited this site in 2018.

There is in fact significantly less material on this site, because it is not a “dump site”; it is a site where a portion of the 11.3 acres of land is used as a temporary storage site for materials that our DPW generates in the process of doing their job. By necessity, all municipal DPW organizations have such a site.

We have receipts that document that the town has routinely moved unusable, temporally stored DPW materials from this site.

I invite those who have seemly made it their mission to delay or stifle our community’s efforts to build our town’s bicycle pump track in the area that’s parallel to state Route 94, where the town center bike and walking trail is planned, and where the town already has sewer service lines and capability—

I invite them to join with us, in our efforts to build our town’s bicycle pump track in this safe, appropriate area, which will be a positive factor that will contribute to the achievement of our objective of attracting more paying MUA customers, which is essential if we are to reduce our municipality’s significant MUA related deficit.

It’s time that we put our personal grudges aside, and all came together, to work towards Moving Vernon Forward!

Thank A Police Officer Day

Saturday, September 19, 2020 was national “THANK A POLICE OFFICER DAY.”

When we reflect on the strain and the lack of trust that exist between the citizens and their police departments in many communities across our nation, and compare those relationship situations to the relationships that the residents of Vernon Township have with their outstanding police department, we can’t help but to realize that we do indeed have very good police officers that are worthy of our thanks.

And it is for this reason that I want the public to know, that my THANK YOU comments tonight are not simply comments that are made in order to be politically correct; they are not comments that are made as a reflection of me taking a stand, on one side or the other, of some “hot button” political issue—they are made for one reason, and one reason only; and that’s because I truly mean them.

I am indeed fortunate to be one of our nation’s mayors who can say with creditability and comfort, that my town has a police department with a core of officers that have earned all of the thanks that we can give them.

I take this opportunity to also thank our police department for their quick, effective and efficient response to the recent illegal and shameful environmental dumping assault that was inflicted on our beautiful Maple Grange Park.

During the morning hours of September 14, the Vernon Police responded to a report of illegal dumping at Maple Grange Park; the illegal and shameful environmental dumping assault had occurred in the evening hours of September 13.

A large pile of miscellaneous junk, including an old couch, window shutters, wooden trunks of clothing, masonry items, cans of wood stain, as well as several other items, had been dumped in a visible portion of the park.

The investigation that followed resulted in the successful identification of a 23-year old suspect, a Mike Lopez of Englewood, NJ, who was issued summons for violating our local dumping ordinances.

Thanks to the quick, effective and efficient work of the Vernon Police Department, Mr. Lopez now has a pending municipal court appearance, and the pile of illegally dumped material was immediately removed by the Vernon Township DPW, the organization that does such a great job of maintaining and caring for our parks. The investigating officer was Ofc. Nick Gonzalez. THANK YOU Officer Gonzalez, and THANK YOU to our Vernon Police Department!

Howard L. Burrell, Mayor