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Arboretum bridge loan voted down


The February 10th council meeting had many residents in attendance to learn of what was going to happen with the arboretum funding vote. There were 2 council members not in attendance.These were Mary Jane Surrago and Michael O’Hagan.

Before the reading of the ordinance 1729 to fund the Theilkes Arboretum Education center, it was open to the public to express their feelings about this ordinance vote.  Some of the concerns mentioned by the residents included, setting up a precedence for other organizations in town, single use for the building and having to pay a fee to use it. Each of the concerns were addressed by Tom Vielbig.

After the public comment section, ordinance 1729 was read by Borough Clerk Jackie Scalia. After that Mayor Packer and each council member expressed their thoughts on the Vote and the Arboretum educational center.

Mayor Packer started with explaining why he was not allowed to be a tiebreaker in this situation. Any vote that is a financial matter, the mayor can not be the tie breaker.

He then continued to state that he is in full support of the educational building and that the council has worked very hard to get the correct facts. In response to the question, what happens if the building costs more, then it would not be covered by the bridge loan. It would cost $11,000 to finance this loan, and agrees that it would be worth it for the future programs it could bring. In addition, most national parks have an educational center and thats where people go to find out what is around them in that area / park.

Mayor Packer concluded with thanking the Arboretum for their openness and the residents for taking time to voice their opinions as well as bringing good points up.

Councilman Art Pazan then thanked Carol for everything she has done for the arboretum and the residents for their input. The question, he had to answer for himself to vote for this is: “Is the funding appropriate and a benefit to the community?” Yes ” Is there more benefit then liability?”  Yes.

Councilman Pazan then voted yes for the bridge loan.

Councilwoman Amy Martin then took the time to first, pass on a message from Councilman Mike O’hagan.  He wanted to let the residents know that if he was able to attend tonight that he would have voted for it.  Amy then went on to say that the educational center represents the future, believes that the bridge loan would be paid back and is also a betterment for the borough.

Councilwoman Martin then voted yes, looking towards the future.

Councilman Skip Husking then took the vote baton and talked about his reasons for how he is going to vote. He stated that the educational center will enhance the community and the the FOGRA should be treated with the respect that they deserve. As a member of the finance committee there are a lot of needs for borough funding in town, for example, the GRFD firetruck 833 is from 1986 and will have to be replaced soon. Right after that the ladder truck, which could cost in excess of $1 million will then need replacing. The police cars need to be updated with newer laptops.

Councilman Skip Husking voted no.

Councilwoman Kristine Morieko was the final vote. She stated that she is voting on the funding, not on the enhancement that the education center will have to the town. She then proceeded to say that the project is fantastic. But her concern was that the loan is unsecured.

She suggested that they regroup and refine what they want to do to make it more feasible that the council might feel more comfortable with.

Councilwoman Kristine Morieko voted no.

The final vote was 2-2. This ordinance did not pass. In response to this the FOGRA wrote this letter.


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