South River officials share goals for 2010

Firehouse, library, meter readers among priorities


Infrastructure. That is what Mayor Raymond T. Eppinger said he and his administration will continue working to maintain and improve as 2010 moves along.

“Road paving, street signs, electric and water meters, upgraded equipment, etc.,” he said. “We will continue to run a professional operation.”

Eppinger said this year is going to be tough for the state, with massive cuts expected in state aid given to towns.

“It’s going to be ugly, but it could be worse for us,” he said. “That is why we have spent money and time on our infrastructure.”

Eppinger said in his reorganization meeting speech Jan. 1 that the borough is “slightly ahead of the curve.”

“The economic pain and decisions that had to be made in 2008 bore fruit in 2009,” he said, adding that the council made forward looking choices during those years to get the town in a better financial position. He noted that the borough continues to invest in the borough’s water, electric and sewer infrastructures.

The mayor stressed, however, that the town faces challenges in the years ahead.

“The economy here in New Jersey is still in a precarious position,” said Eppinger. “And the fiscal insanity that has reigned in Trenton for decades is truly beginning to hit home.”

The mayor pledged to counter the challenges by being “more direct and vocal” to state and county officials to ensure that South River taxpayers receive the services and benefits they deserve.

Eppinger said the town should have a new master plan by the end of 2010, and he hopes to return to using an in-house construction code office.

Borough Council members all concurred with the mayor on continuing to improve infrastructure. Councilman Jim Hutchinson said the town is starting 2010 with a bang by implementing the water and electric smart readers.

“The meters will provide us with actual readings and accurate billing,” he said.

Councilman John Trzeciak agreed.

“The meters make the process of the readings and billing more efficient for the borough,” he said. Trzeciak also stressed the need for continued open government.

Councilman Michael Trenga said that along with improving infrastructure he would like to work on Main Street revitalization.

Councilman John Krenzel, who was elected council president during the reorganization meeting, said that along with improving infrastructure, he would like to resolve issues with the library building on Appleby Avenue.

“An efficiency expert may be hired, and with the expert we may say we have $2 million, and the expert can make suggestions on what we can do from there,” he said.

In September 2008, Anthony Iovino, of Arcari & Iovino Architects P.C., of Little Ferry, presented a five-phase, multimilliondollar reconfiguration, which suggested moving the library to downtown Main Street. Iovino’s firm had previously designed the South River Public Library expansion project, which was scrapped because its price tag of $6.7 million was deemed to be too high.

Councilman Rui Almeida said that along with seeing a new George Street firehouse built, he would like to pursue the discussion of the automated garbage trucks as a way to save money for the borough while keeping employees.

“I would also like to continue working on open government; we have seen the council meetings televised, now I would like to see what options we have with the borough’s website … It’s a little dull,” he said.

Councilman Peter Guindi said he would like discuss the possibility of installing solar panels on utility poles.

“I believe this will reduce electric rates astronomically,” he said.

Guindi said in these economic times, it is important for them to work on cutting back expenses.

He also said that, as a fireman in the borough, he would like to see the George Street firehouse rebuilt. “We want a home … The building is just beyond recognition right now,” he said.

Eppinger said decisions will be made on the George Street firehouse, the library expansion and the use or disposition of the Lincoln School property.