For the better part of this past year, the topic of a has come before the members of the council and Monday night's conference meeting was no exception.
The group’s purpose would be to help encourage people who don’t participate in events around the township to get involved. Once involved, the goal would be to get these volunteers to join existing township organizations and committees.
In June, Councilman Gary Schneiderman said he would the language in the group's mission statement to remove references to specific ethnic groups and make the group as all encompassing as possible.
In doing so he changed the group's mission, argued Councilwoman Deborah Shapiro.
"While this is a good idea, it's not their idea," Shapiro said. "This is not what they had envisioned."
The group's supporters have also grown discouraged because it has been six months since discussions began and little progress has been made, she said.
"I'm just disappointed that it has taken this long to get back to the entire group," said Shapiro, citing the large number of individuals with interest in the group.
"The fire has not only just dampened, but it has been put out by their perception that the township has basically dragged their feet on putting together this committee," Shapiro said.
Other members of the council disagreed the issue was unimportant to the council.
Schneiderman, who in the past has expressed concerns the group was too inclusive, was very adamant any group that kept a select portion of the population separate from the rest of the community was not going to happen. "We're going to bring the community together; we're not going to separate it," he said.
Mayor Rudy Fernandez said the entire council has been on-board with such a committee provided it reaches out to the entire Livingston community, including other ethnic groups, such as members of the Eastern European population, which in the past had support from all parties. "I'm a little confused that now they don't want to do that," he said.
Deputy Mayor Steve Santola pointed out these things take time and said the Littell's Pond Committee, which he served on, took 4½ years to get off of the ground.
Santola offered to act as the council liaison to the group to maintain their interest and let them know the council was very much supportive of them. "I'm not going to sit here and accept that these people have given up because I don't believe that". "We're not going to let a room full of volunteers get discouraged and disappear," he said.
At the conclusion of the discussion, all of the council members agreed the language in the group's mission statement was acceptable and the committee will be established at a future date.
In other news...
- After months of between the Livingston Environmental Commission and the council, the two sides appear close to finally hammering out a new tree ordinance. The new ordinance is slated to be formally introduced to the public next Monday, Oct. 17.
- Township Manager Michele Meade discussed plans to install an elevator in the rear of the Monmouth Court building, which houses the Alternative High School. According to Meade, the upgrade will make the building more handicap accessible. The total cost of the project is set to be $262,000 with $62,000 being funded by grant money.
- The council will honor the men and women who give their time to make the town a better place to live during a special Volunteers Appreciation Reception on Thursday, Oct. 27. The ceremony is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Senior/Community Center.
The council will meet again next Monday, Oct. 17, for a conference meeting at 7:30 p.m. followed by a regular meeting at 8 p.m.