By Councilman Russ Graham
Recently, Mayor Todisco notified me about a problem in our community: an organized group using the Hartman Park basketball court and possibly sending Garwood residents away, claiming they had a permit to occupy the park. I heard nothing about a permit being issued for use of the park—because there never was one.
Let me be clear—I took this issue personally when I heard about it because I invested my time and effort in seeing Hartman Park to completion so our residents can enjoy it. We addressed this matter quickly in an executive session at the last meeting of the Mayor and Council on Thursday, September 24.
Once the Mayor and Council became aware of the issue, we worked together with the Borough Administrator, Borough Attorney, and the Recreation Director to resolve it quickly. We investigated who the group was and consulted with the Borough Attorney to confirm how the laws regarding this unprecedented use of Hartman Park would work. The organization never approached the town first before using it. Myself and the rest of Council acted together to resolve this issue as soon as we could at our last meeting to protect our community resources.
The business running the group in question reimbursed Garwood nearly $2,000 for the time already spent utilizing our park facilities and chose not to seek a permit, instead deciding to relocate.
Small businesses that provide these sorts of services have struggled due to the pandemic. I understand their struggles, but our laws and procedures must be followed. I am glad our town professionals acted effectively to solve this problem. They protected Hartman Park, a community resource I am proud to have been a part of making a reality for our Borough.
I must also point out, the residents who contacted our town official and the Council about this issue were 100% more effective in helping us solve this problem than agenda-filled comments and personal attacks by political operatives against the Mayor on social media, which ironically were happening as the problem was being solved.
We need Council members working together to solve problems, not just posturing and complaining about them online. Teamwork between Mayor Todisco, members of Council, our professionals and our community is a big part of what makes us a Strong Garwood.
I hope the community keeps in mind my record of solving resident problems on Council for the last two years—such as overseeing the repairs to the roof for our Fire Department and the installation of shading at Hartman Park that residents requested—and thinking of how my running mate Vincent Kearney has spent years contributing to Garwood through his volunteer work and decides to support the Graham/Kearey ticket for a Strong Garwood!
Councilman Russ Graham
Candidate for Garwood Council