Morristown park to be renamed for George Gramby; council also adopts $2.5M bond ordinance, talks boats, leaf blowers

George Gramby, who is remembered with a special day every summer, now will be remembered year-round.

The Morristown council voted unanimously on Tuesday to rename the Abbett Avenue Park for the late substance abuse counselor.

Mayor Tim Dougherty said he is looking forward to seeing “George Gramby Park” banners at the 22nd annual George Gramby Day on July 12, 2014.

Aryanna Cotten, 9, is all smiles as she gets her face painted at George Gramby Day in Morristown. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Aryanna Cotten, right, was all smiles in 2011 for her face painting at George Gramby Day in Morristown. The Abbett Avenue Park is being renamed for George Gramby. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

“It’s a wonderful thing for the community. Many people continue his cause of helping others, and trying to make lives better. His legacy continues,” said the Mayor, adding he was proud to sponsor the name change.

George Gramby was a recovered drug addict who started a substance abuse referral program called Beginnings, which the town funded until 2006. George died of AIDS in 1992.

“When he was sick, all he said was that he wanted to help save people’s lives,” his sister Dawn told Morristown Green last year. “He showed me what courage was about.”

The public is welcome at George Gramby Day, a cookout with children’s activities, softball and basketball games and awards to community volunteers. Admission is free.

IN OTHER BUSINESS…

Most of the evening in the muggy meeting room was spent debating liquor license renewals.

But the council also voted 6-0 (Councilwoman Michelle Dupree Harris was absent) to adopt a $2.6 million capital spending measure that includes a bond sale of almost $2.5 million. Noisy leaf blowers and town boating rules also got batted around.

Some $1.8 million of the bond ordinance is earmarked for road and sidewalk improvements on South Street and Speedwell and Martin Luther King avenues.

Money also is designated for improvements to parks and dams, a new dump truck/plow/street sweeper, town hall renovations and fire house repairs. Some $250,000 will go towards stonework at the Morristown & Township Library. The Township is providing matching funds.

HOW ABOUT MUFFLERS?

Councilman Stefan Armington suggested restricting use of leaf blowers to 8 am-to-dusk on weekdays, and 9 am to 6 pm on weekdays, to curb noise.

According to a survey of residents, which the Councilman conducted via MorristownGreen.com and the town website, three quarters of respondents favored revising the existing ordinance, which allows property maintenance from 7 am to 11 pm.

leaf blower logoStefan said 366 residents responded to the survey; a majority indicated it was most bothered by noise in the mornings. Weekends and evenings came next, respectively.

The survey sparked animated discussion among council members.

Council President Rebecca Feldman said she wanted information about noise ordinances in neighboring towns. Councilwoman Raline Smith-Reid questioned the impact of restrictions on landscaping companies.

Shorter work days actually might spawn more daytime noise, because more landscaping companies could be needed to cram the work into tighter schedules, according to Councilman Michael Elms, adding that he appreciates hard-working landscapers after toiling for them during his college summers.

Councilwoman Alison Deeb, citing college courses she has taken, questioned the survey methodology. She suggested the town undertake a more rigorous, random poll that she said would you yield statistically valid findings.

Stefan said that was fine with him–but he estimated such a survey would cost between $10,000 and $20,000. Morristown already has a noise ordinance on the books. But the town lacks decibel meters to enforce it, he said.

Although he is against “governing by opinion polls,” the Councilman said the town must balance the rights of businesses and homeowners.  He and his wife like to sleep late on weekends, he said, but leaf blowers in his Cutler Park neighborhood often make that impossible.

GETTING THEIR FEET WET

Stefan also investigated the town’s boating regulations; his curiosity was piqued by a “no boating” sign.

water-skiing, cypress gardens

The Morristown council wants to get its feet wet before allowing boats on Speedwell Lake.

Police reported to him that town laws ban boating, fishing and swimming in town parks unless they are posted otherwise. Other waterways are governed by state rules, Stefan said.

The Councilman suggested posting a sign to allow boating on Speedwell Lake. Burnham Pond and Foote’s Pond are moot, he said, because there are no access points for boats.

But town Administrator Michael Rogers said an environmental report on Speedwell Lake is coming soon. So the council agreed to await those findings before wading any deeper into the issue.



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