Garwood Swears In New Police Officer, Talks Transportation


For Union County HAWK

GARWOOD — Patrolman Brian Contreras was officially sworn into the Garwood Police Department at the borough council meeting on January 12.

Mayor Jen Blumenstock administered the oath of office for Officer Contreras, who worked as a campus security officer at Fairleigh Dickinson University since February 2022 prior to coming to Garwood. Officer Contreras began his law enforcement career in September 2020 as a police officer with the city of Irvington, where his father also served for 25 years.

In preparation for Police Chief James Wright’s retirement on Wednesday, March 1, the council introduced an ordinance to update the language used in the promotional procedure for police chief to match the current evaluation system utilized in the police department, which was re-worded in 2017.

According to Chief Wright, the ordinance implements “housekeeping changes” to correct a “technical discrepancy” that will not impact the overall promotional process.

Mayor Blumenstock reported that she and Borough Administrator Kyle Harris had met with a legislative representative from Congressman Donald Payne’s office to discuss the borough’s desire for more stops and handicap-accessibility improvements at the Garwood train station.

“Congressman Payne is currently on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, as well as the chair of the Railroad Subcommittee, so I’m hoping that we can move forward with some of these goals with federal assistance,” Mayor Blumenstock stated.

Mayor Blumenstock added that she and the representative also spoke about Garwood’s needs surrounding flooding and infrastructure, and she is looking to have Congressman Payne attend a council meeting in the near future.

Later that evening, Councilman Marc Lazarow reported that he had email correspondence with co-chairs of the Raritan Valley Line Mayor’s Alliance.

“They assured me that an agenda item has been added to advocate for Garwood to get more weekday stops on the Raritan Valley Train Line, given the increase in passengers as a result of the Vermella 1 property closing in on full capacity of residents,” Mr. Lazarow said. “In addition, I have been in correspondence with all of our county commissioners, which is likely to lead to more substantial conversations with New Jersey Transit representatives to advocate for increased accessibility at the Garwood station.”

In other business, the council approved a resolution to increase the number of yearly bulk pickup dates within the borough from two to four. The bulk permit program fee for 2023 is $110 per permit, and Mr. Harris explained that the borough does not make a profit from this service since “the exact cost is passed on to the resident for the service of bulk pickup.”

Also on the agenda was a resolution to cancel the purchase of a Department of Public Works (DPW) Ford F-250 truck in order to issue a new purchase order for the same truck, as its price has increased $19,000 since it was first ordered a year and a half ago.

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