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Latest News in Mount Arlington, NJ

Mt. Arlington Electrician Steps Up to Help Roxbury VFW

ROXBURY, NJ – When he learned last weekend that a VFW post in Roxbury needed help, a Mt. Arlington electrician wasted no time in offering his services.“I don’t play around,” said Tom Szigeti, noting he’s already applied for permits. “As soon as I saw the article, I said, ‘Absolutely.’”In fact, Szigeti, a retired Newark Fire Department ...

ROXBURY, NJ – When he learned last weekend that a VFW post in Roxbury needed help, a Mt. Arlington electrician wasted no time in offering his services.

“I don’t play around,” said Tom Szigeti, noting he’s already applied for permits. “As soon as I saw the article, I said, ‘Absolutely.’”

In fact, Szigeti, a retired Newark Fire Department captain, got a similar response from a friend and fellow former firefighter, Tom Carter, who plans to drive from Freehold to help Szigeti with the job. “He’s also a vet,” said Szigeti. “He belongs to his local VFW in Freehold. To help the vets, he jumped right in.”

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Szigeti said it will probably take him and Carter a day to install the two new electrical panels at VFW Post 2833 in Kenvil. The panels were donated to the post by Star-Lo Electric of Parsippany, but the post needed a licensed electrician to install them, said post member Bob Mederos.

Szigeti met Mederos at the site on Monday. “It’s a piece-of-cake job,” said the electrician, who said he learned about the situation Sunday when his daughter, a Roxbury resident, emailed him a link to the article. “When I heard it was for the vets, that’s when it pulled at my heartstrings,” said Szigeti. “I definitely have a weak spot for vets.”

Szigeti wasn’t the only area electrician to respond, but Mederos said he was the first to say he could begin the job almost immediately. “He was there right away,” said the former Army ranger. “I met with him. He’s an ex-fireman. He seemed to be a reputable contractor. So I said, ‘Go for it.’”

Getting the new electric panels installed is the first step in a major renovation of the VFW building, scheduled to take place this summer. Mederos said he and his fellow veterans hope that, by sprucing up the building, the will be better able to attract new members.

“Our primary mission now is to try to promote a new VFW for the young veterans,” he said. “They need to know that were not a bunch of old farts sitting around the bar getting drunk on Fridays. We are trying to promote military servicemen in the local area, and if we can assist them in any way with their military problems, we are there for them.”

Mederos noted that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) “is a big concern of this new veteran force that’s coming in because they have so many tours over in different military actions.” He said he and his VFW colleagues want to let these new veterans “know that the post is there for them to discuss issues they might have that we went through and might have resolved through time.”

He said he hopes young veterans in the area will look to the renovated VFW as a place they can come with their families. “Our post is in bad shape, so we are trying to make it presentable for the young guys and their kids to come out,” said Mederos. “If they need to have a birthday party or Christening or something like that, our hall is there and it’s going to be presentable for them.”

Runoff From Roxbury Project Dumps Dirt into Lake Rogerene

Photo Credit: Drone photo by Frank LombardoLake Rogerene from abovePhoto Credit: Drone photo by Frank LombardoPhoto Credit: Drone photo by Frank LombardoPhoto Credit: Drone photo by Frank LombardoPhoto Credit: Drone photo by Frank LombardoPhoto Credit: Drone photo by Frank LombardoLake Rogerene turned brown after stormwater runoff escaped the nearby construction site for The Villages housing development in RoxburyPhoto Credit: Drone photo by Frank Lombardo...

Photo Credit: Drone photo by Frank Lombardo

Lake Rogerene from abovePhoto Credit: Drone photo by Frank Lombardo

Photo Credit: Drone photo by Frank Lombardo

Photo Credit: Drone photo by Frank Lombardo

Photo Credit: Drone photo by Frank Lombardo

Photo Credit: Drone photo by Frank Lombardo

Lake Rogerene turned brown after stormwater runoff escaped the nearby construction site for The Villages housing development in RoxburyPhoto Credit: Drone photo by Frank Lombardo

By Fred J. Aun

PublishedApril 13, 2022 at 11:25 AM

ROXBURY, NJ – In what one area resident called an “environmental Armageddon,” dirt from a massive construction project in Landing was washed away by recent storms and ended up in Lake Rogerene, leaving the water brown and lake lovers livid.

The runoff came from the 161-home housing development called The Villages at Roxbury now being built off Shippenport Road in Roxbury, about a quarter mile away from Lake Rogerene, according to residents and officials. Some homeowners in the lake community, which lies mostly in Mount Arlington, angrily demanded action at Tuesday’s meeting of the Roxbury Mayor and Council.

Among them was Lake Rogerene Civic Association Trustee Paula Danchuk, who brought aerial photos showing the condition of the 9-acre lake before and after last week’s heavy rains. The drone shots showed a once-clear lake turned to opaque tan by the storm runoff.

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“We thought we had things in place that would protect Lake Rogerene,” Danchuck told the council. “But, obviously, it’s not working.”

The Villages at Roxbury project - including stormwater runoff prevention - was approved in 2007, but work didn’t begin until last year.

Early Morning Phone Call

Roxbury Township Manager John Shepherd said he was made aware of the situation late last week, noting the runoff came from heavy rain that started last Thursday evening. “Everybody who lives here knows how heavy that storm was that occurred, certainly not a common storm for us,” he said. “But it was a heavy storm. We have those.”

Shepherd said he was alerted to the problem at about 7:30 a.m. Friday by Mount Arlington Borough Administrator Carolyn Rinaldi. “She let me know there was a problem, and it needed to be looked at,” he said. “I let her know we’d look at it immediately.”

A consulting engineer for Roxbury went to the site as did inspectors from the Morris County Soil Conservation District (MCSCD), the agency that enforces the state Soil Erosion and Sediment Control Act. Shepherd said the MCSCD, by 11 a.m. Friday, told the contractors building The Villages “what needed to be repaired.”

He said the inspectors found that “something wasn’t properly blocked, one of the outlet structures, or it just broke loose due to the volume of water.” Shepherd said the broken system has been repaired, but he noted the MCSCD also “recommended some additional measures along the outlet … to provide additional controls for any sedimentation.”

'Like An Open Strip Mine'

Mount Arlington Borough Councilman Andrew Cangiano, a Lake Rogerene resident, attended the Roxbury council meeting and confirmed that “everybody jumped right on” the matter as soon as they were alerted.

“It’s a very unique situation,” he said. “You have a very, very large construction site … It’s like an open strip mine. It’s just a huge, huge project.”

Cangiano said the soil erosion prevention system that broke during the storm was little more than “an old piece of plywood” and he stressed that “the results were catastrophic.”

He called for “some redundancy … a little resiliency” in the project’s runoff prevention. “Because if the one piece of plywood breaks free in another heavy storm, we don’t know what the effects of this is going to be on the lake. We just can’t afford another break,” Cangiano said.

Roxbury Mayor Jim Rilee said he was “a little surprised” that the MCSCD allowed The Villages at Roxbury builders to have vulnerable erosion prevention systems in place. “They’re usually a pain in the butt sometimes with what they require,” he commented.

Rilee asked that research be done to see if The Villages at Roxbury's escrow account can be used to help remediate the situation. The Villages at Roxbury is being built by Stone Water Holding, a preferred developer for Ryan Homes. The company could not immediately be reached for comment.

During the meeting’s public session, Lake Rogerene resident Andrew Danchuck tried to express the seriousness of the matter, noting that the lake is “the centerpiece” of the Lake Rogerene community.

“It’s gorgeous,” he said. “And it’s being ripped apart right now. What happened here: The Villages committed environmental Armageddon against Lake Rogerene. It’s beyond horrific what’s happening.”

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Home rule wins again: Roxbury-Mt. Arlington consolidation study ends

Despite claims it found a path to save $100 million in taxpayer dollars over the next decade, a state-authorized commission to study a merger of Roxbury and Mount Arlington met for the last time Wednesday in Roxbury.Craig Heard, chairman of the Roxbury-Mount Arlington Consolidation Study Commission, said after more than five years of work, the commission was unable to muster interest in consolidation among elected leaders or residents.In August, Heard said the commission, authorized by the New Jersey Department o...

Despite claims it found a path to save $100 million in taxpayer dollars over the next decade, a state-authorized commission to study a merger of Roxbury and Mount Arlington met for the last time Wednesday in Roxbury.

Craig Heard, chairman of the Roxbury-Mount Arlington Consolidation Study Commission, said after more than five years of work, the commission was unable to muster interest in consolidation among elected leaders or residents.

In August, Heard said the commission, authorized by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs Local Finance Board in 2014, had hit "a brick wall" and would seek an extension to continue its work until December 2020.

"The local board did not grant them the one-year extension they requested," said Roxbury Mayor Robert DeFillippo, a consolidation opponent.

Wednesday, the commission called a halt to the effort, voting by resolution to dissolve at the end of the year.

"The Consolidation Commission I chaired for over 4 1/2 years completes our mission," Heard wrote in a social-media post on Thursday. "Now it is time for Roxbury and Mount Arlington to use our study reports as a blueprint to find shared services that can be implemented to reduce property taxes for the residents."

Following the guidelines of the Municipal Consolidation Act of 2007, the process began in 2012, when groups from Roxbury and Mount Arlington formed and each collected more than 400 signatures from the respective municipalities.

The petitions moved the Local Finance Board in 2014 to approve their application calling for the creation of a commission to study a possible consolidation.

Heard in August said the commission was "so darn close" to producing a study he feels will project annual savings to the combined towns, ranging from $9.2 million per year, based on their own calculations, to $11.8 million annually, based on a recent independent CPA study ordered by the commission.

But sticking points in the complex state statute guiding the formal consolidation process stalled the efforts. The primary problem, Heard said, are rules regarding the equal distribution of consolidation savings.

"If we consolidated using the commission's numbers of 9.2%, Roxbury would have an 8% reduction in property taxes and Mount Arlington would have a 10% reduction," Heard explained. "That's great, except the statute requires you to equalize the taxes for both municipalities. And when Mount Arlington goes into Roxbury, the equalization doesn't create any savings for Mount Arlington."

The mayors of both towns questioned the commission's findings, as did many residents who expressed opposition in public meetings and on social media.

DeFilippo said the equalization rules would effectively negate the savings to Roxbury's 23,000 residents, to the benefit of 5,000 Mount Arlington residents.

"That's Craig's claim: If we could only eliminate equalization, then we could claim all these savings," DeFillippo said. "There's a reason why equalization is in there, to make sure each town pays its fair share, that it is equitably distributed."

"I have several concerns. One is the study itself, and the other is: Does Mount Arlington need this or want this?" Mount Arlington Mayor Michael Stanzilis said. "Clearly, Mount Arlington does not want this, and the people are angry that this is even being foisted on them."

Heard also stated at an Oct. 23 meeting of the commission that some of its volunteer members "were attacked online, publicly and had their businesses attacked."

"We started doing shared services long before the commission got involved," DeFillippo said. "We have other shared-service opportunities we are pursuing. I'm pleased the commission is now disbanded, and we can get back to running the communities for the residents."

William Westhoven is a local reporter for DailyRecord.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

Email: wwesthoven@dailyrecord.com Twitter: @wwesthoven

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Mt. Arlington Trail Not Just a Mt. Arlington Thing

Trailhead for Mt. Arlington's Lake Rogerene TrailsPhoto Credit: Borough of Mt. ArlingtonA sign on Roxbury's Ice Age Trail in Orben ParkPhoto Credit: Roxbury Recreation By Fred J. AunROXBURY, NJ – There's a reason Roxbury Councilwoman Jaki Albrecht plans to attend tomorrow's ribbon-cutting ceremony for a trail system in Mount Arlington: The meandering pathways benefit Roxbury too.Mount Arlington’s Lake Rogerene Trails system, to be celebrated 9 a.m. at ...

Trailhead for Mt. Arlington's Lake Rogerene TrailsPhoto Credit: Borough of Mt. Arlington

A sign on Roxbury's Ice Age Trail in Orben ParkPhoto Credit: Roxbury Recreation

By Fred J. Aun

ROXBURY, NJ – There's a reason Roxbury Councilwoman Jaki Albrecht plans to attend tomorrow's ribbon-cutting ceremony for a trail system in Mount Arlington: The meandering pathways benefit Roxbury too.

Mount Arlington’s Lake Rogerene Trails system, to be celebrated 9 a.m. at the pathway's trailhead, interchanges deep in the woods with Roxbury's 1.3-mile Ice Age Trail at Orben Park. In fact, the Lake Rogerene Trails trailhead is situated on Orben Drive right up the road from the trailhead for the Ice Age Trail.

Both trails wind through the hilly woods northwest of Lake Rogerene and east of Shippenport Road.

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Albrecht said she recently joined Mount Arlington Mayor Michael Stanzilis and other Mount Arlington officials in a Zoom discussion about trails. She said the connection between the two municipalities’ pathways was mentioned in the chat.

“This gives a great opportunity to residents of Mount Arlington and Roxbury to see all the great natural features up there, especially in winter when the views open up,” Albrecht said.

The ribbon-cutting for Roxbury's Ice Age Trail took place in May 2014.

The Mount Arlington trail system cost about $378,000 to preserve as open space. About $297,000 of that came from a Morris County Trails Grant Program.

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N.J. weather: 35-inch snowfall report might beat longtime state record

An elusive record that has stood strong for nearly 122 years might have been broken during the monster snowstorm that has pummeled New Jersey during the past three days.The National Weather Service announced Tuesday night it received a preliminary report of 35....

An elusive record that has stood strong for nearly 122 years might have been broken during the monster snowstorm that has pummeled New Jersey during the past three days.

The National Weather Service announced Tuesday night it received a preliminary report of 35.1 inches of snow on the ground in Mount Arlington in Morris County.

If that report is confirmed, it would top the state’s longtime record of 34 inches of snow, which fell during a multi-day blizzard that stretched from Feb. 11 to Feb. 14 in 1899.

However, the weather service is not declaring this a record yet, agency meteorologist Patrick O’Hara said. Even though the agency has no reason to doubt the veracity of the snowfall report, it still has to go through a strict process to confirm it.

O’Hara said the 35-inch snow report in Mount Arlington came from a trained weather observer, someone who likely knows the proper way to accurately measure snow. But to be declared a new statewide record, it has to be investigated further.

And it’s not a quick process.

“It’ll go through a lot of scrutiny,” O’Hara said. “It won’t be days, it won’t be weeks. I’ll probably be months.”

On Monday, after some early snowfall reports of 30 inches were received by the National Weather Service, New Jersey State Climatologist David Robinson echoed what O’Hara said, saying all snowfall measurements are considered preliminary until they can be confirmed.

Robinson, whose office at Rutgers University oversees state climate data and records dating all the way back to 1895, said any snowfall reports for something as significant as a statewide record would have to undergo a lot of scrutiny under procedures set up by the National Centers for Environmental Information, formerly known as the National Climatic Data Center.

Robinson said the process involves determining the procedure used by the weather observer who reported the snowfall measurement, and making sure the procedure adheres to proper standards in measuring snow.

It’s not something weather and climate experts take lightly, Robinson noted. Which is why the National Weather Service can’t declare the 35-inch snowfall report as a record right now.

If the measurement holds up, it would be among several hefty snowfall totals of 30-plus inches that were reported Monday night and Tuesday — the second and third days of this three-day winter storm.

TOP SNOWFALL REPORTS IN N.J.

(UPDATE: The National Weather Service said the preliminary Mount Arlington snowfall total was originally reported as 35.5 inches, but the person who took the measurement later corrected the total to 35.1 inches.)

As of now, these are the highest preliminary snow totals across New Jersey during this epic storm:

Current weather radar

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