“I’d like to make a motion that the Borough Counsel offer to any elected official that is representing Roselle Park at any level of government, be it county, state, federal a $0 lease to be renewed annually with terms and conditions with regard to days and location in Borough Hall to be set in that annual lease subject to approval of the governing body and the Congressional budget office or local budget office,” stated First Ward Councilman Andrew Casais after council returned from a closed executive session at the April 3rd Mayor & Council meeting.
This proposal sets into motion the use of Borough Hall, namely the Mayor’s office, by county officials, state legislators, Congress representatives, and Senators for a $0 lease.
Although not specifically mentioned, this motion reverses a rescinding of an offer that was extended to United States Congressman Donald Payne, Jr. and his office by Mayor Joseph Accardi in early 2013 to have a $0 lease to use Borough Hall twice a week. Congressman Payne represents Roselle Park as well as other municipalities in the 10th district of New Jersey and Mayor Accardi had brought up his offer to council at that time. It was reported that the proposal was rescinded due to a split vote amongst council members at the time with council representatives Hokanson and Storey agreeing with not charging for use of Borough Hall and council representative Modesto Miranda, Tanya Torres, and Michael Yakubov voting against the $o lease. Although councilman Andrew Casais was not at the meeting where the offer was rescinded, he stated on the record he would have agreed to the no-fee lease after initially requesting $100/month.
At the March meeting of The Concerned Citizens of Roselle Park, Blake Johnson – a representative from Congressman Payne Jr.’s office – who was in attendance after being formally invited by the group, was available to address the concerns of residents who were at the get together. In attendance was Council-At-Large Carl Hokanson. During that meeting, the issue of having the Congressman have himself and/or a member of his office available to residents in the borough and surrounding municipalities by establishing an office in town was brought up. After the meeting, it was suggested that Councilman-At-Large Carl Hokanson bring up the matter at a municipal meeting.
The matter was re-visited and discussed in a closed session after all municipal business had been addressed. Now, with a year passing, two new council members, Ryan Kelly and Mohamed ‘Gino’ Elmarassy, joined the dais and when the vote was taken to have a $0 lease offered, the vote was unanimous in favor of the motion with no ‘nay’ vote from 5th Ward Councilman Michael Yakubov, the only sitting member of council to previously oppose such a proposal.
Jacob Magiera, as Chair of The Concerned Citizens Of Roselle Park, stated, “This is great news. It is the people’s Borough Hall and we will have an advantage of having the Congressman as our guest or any elected representative; be it county, state, or federal.”
Councilman Casais commented after the vote, “I am happy to have the unanimous support of my Council colleagues in extending the offer of a $0 annual lease of space at Borough Hall. The intent is to provide residents with enhanced access to their elected representatives at all levels of government right here, locally, in Roselle Park.”