By Gloria Stravelli
METUCHEN – A concerned Mayor Jonathan Busch opened the Aug. 23 Borough Council meeting with some troubling statistics.
“Unfortunately, the numbers tell the story and in Metuchen this week alone we had 22 new (COVID) infections, and today alone we had 12, which is the highest number since March 30,” said the mayor, “so this is as serious as it gets folks.
“Again, to start off our meeting, I encourage everyone who is listening to please wear a mask when you’re outside your home because it is the only way we know for sure to reduce infection in addition to the vaccine.
“And we know that at least some of the new infections in the borough are people who have received the vaccine and hopefully the vaccine will help keep them from more serious infection.
“But it’s a pandemic and there isn’t one solution, so we have to work on a number of ways to do this together,” he said.
According to Middlesex County’s Aug. 23 cumulative coronavirus tally, available at https://discovermiddlesex.com/total-cumulative-cases, 11 cases of the virus had been reported in Metuchen within a 24-hour period, for a total of 1,274 cases since the pandemic began, with no deaths reported during the 24 hours.
For Middlesex County, 405 total cases had been reported within the same 24-hour period, for a total of 96,211 reported cases since the pandemic began.
On Aug. 2, an upward trend in the number of coronavirus cases in the borough prompted officials to require that all visitors to borough buildings wear face masks. At that point, Metuchen had 1,202 total reported cases, according to county data.
In other news, at the Aug. 23 meeting, the council approved the introduction of Ordinance 2021-13, which would add a loading zone on Center Street, and Ordinance 2021-14, which would clarify and update the promotion process for the position of police sergeants. Both will be discussed at the Sept. 13 meeting.
Jay Muldoon, who is in charge of special projects for the borough, explained Ordinance 2021-15 would amend the redevelopment plan adopted in 2018 for the Oakite property on Middlesex Avenue.
Muldoon noted the borough has been working with the property owner and planner for many years to finalize a plan for redevelopment of the site. The original plan adopted in 2018, he explained, pertained only to vacant land at the site, while the amended redevelopment plan addresses the entire site – the vacant land, as well as an existing former bank site and Sportsplex.
Muldoon said this plan would supersede and amend the original 2018 plan and includes a more detailed site concept.
“The overall planning rationale was driven by a desire to identify uses for the site that aren’t currently available in Metuchen,” he said.
According to Muldoon, there is a need for an age-in-place community, which is currently lacking in the borough and the location of the tract just beyond the downtown and adjacent to the Greenway, lends itself to that use.
The plan would include uses such as independent living as well as assisted living on the site, he said.
Council members approved introduction of the ordinance, which also will have a public hearing at the Sept. 13 meeting.
In addition, Councilwoman Dorothy Rasmussen told those in attendance members of the borough Environmental Commission would be at the Farmers Market Sept. 11 to promote the proposed plastic bag ban, slated to be in place by May 2022.