GARWOOD — Douglas Stoffer will begin his role as Garwood’s next police chief starting March 1, when Chief James Wright is set to retire. Mayor Jen Blumenstock announced Stoffer’s promotion from captain at the February 9 meeting of the governing body.
“I’m excited as I begin my tenure here as mayor to be able to work with Captain Stoffer,” Mayor Blumenstock said, adding that together they plan to address traffic enforcement and safety, community engagement and police-community interaction.
“The process we used to determine our next chief was extensive, and I believe fair and impartial,” Mayor Blumenstock stated. “It is a system that assigns points to various factors, including education, number of years on the force, and various certifications, among other things. It also includes an interview by the New Jersey State Police Chiefs Association, as well as the interview by the mayor and council, where we assessed each candidate based on answers to set questions that cater to issues that affect Garwood.”
Reporting back on discussions held at the winter seminar of the New Jersey Conference of Mayors held earlier this month, Mayor Blumenstock relayed that Garwood, like many municipalities, is going to be hit hard by the increase in state healthcare costs.
“Here in Garwood, we are exploring the move out of the state health benefits, however, as was pointed out at the meeting, cost savings for most municipalities might not be seen until next year, simply because of the timing,” Mayor Blumenstock stated.
Councilman Marc Lazarow reported that there will be more frequent service at the Garwood train station starting in April, a “big win” he, Mayor Blumenstock and Borough Administrator Kyle Harris were able to achieve at a meeting with New Jersey Transit officials earlier this month by providing evidence of increased ridership from the influx of residents at Vermella. Also discussed at the meeting was the possibility of adding a raised platform and the importance of implementing changes to comply with current guidelines set by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Mr. Lazarow announced that NJ Transit’s government and community relations division will be exploring grant opportunities to help fund a planning study for the Garwood train station to determine the feasibility and costs associated with ADA compliance.
In other business, the mayor and council came to a consensus that the borough should apply for the Union County infrastructure grant to help finish paving the portion of Center Street near Hemlock Avenue. “I do talk to residents down in that way and for many years they’ve been asking, ‘when is it happening?’ seeing that the rest of Center has been done,” Mayor Blumenstock said.
Councilman Vincent Kearney also suggested using the funds to pave the stretch of Second Avenue between Walnut Street and Cedar Street.
Finally, the council adopted an ordinance updating procedures and requirements for creditors to register, maintain and repair foreclosed properties.
The next Garwood Borough Council meeting will take place on Thursday, February 23, at 7 p.m. The meeting is open to the public in person, but residents are also welcome to watch a live stream via Youtube or participate by joining the Zoom link available on the borough website