The Jefferson Township Council got its first exposure to the strategic capital plan prepared for the township by Civitas New Jersey, a Sparta consulting firm operated by John Eskilson, the former interim township administrator.

Eskilson’s partner, Marianne Smith, presented the plan to the council at its Wednesday, February 19, meeting.

Civitas assisted the township in holding a SWOT meeting, pointing out strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Department heads and other supervisors met for a day-long workshop at Kean University’s Jefferson campus. Smith suggested holding a SWOT meeting every year.

Smith pointed out the plan is still in a very preliminary phase. She noted because of the Highlands preservation area, the township is not going to grow, so the municipal government needs to be cautious with money.

She met with all of the department heads to determine what must be done to maintain equipment, vehicles, and infrastructure.

Smith will be refining costs, but for now she estimated about $1 million a year in capital improvements such as roofs and HVAC. She will now refine the costs and create short- and long-term goals.

Camp Jefferson will be considered with other township facilities, she said. The police department is targeting late spring or early summer to have an estimate ready for its renovation.

Civitas estimates a detailed financial analysis will be available in Imid-October. Civitas is also bringing in a new software to assist with management.

Mayor Eric Wilsusen emphasized that the council’s input will be brought in at every step.

In routine council business, Township Administrator Debra Millikin told council she is working on a parking ordinance for the administration building/library lot.

Wilsusen explained that every spring as the juniors at the high school get their driver’s licenses, they start parking in the township lot and walking across to school. Only seniors can park in the student lot. He said school officials don’t like the juniors crossing Weldon Road at busy times and the township doesn’t like them taking spaces from people with legitimate business at the municipal building and library.

Cars start pulling into the township lot at 7:30 a.m., he said.

Millikin’s recommendation was to restrict parking in the township lot to two hours, but Councilman Jay Dunham noted some of the movies the library shows last longer than that.

On speaker phone from a family visit, Councilwoman Debi Merz noted that during college breaks student often use the library for research.

Millikin is going to look into some changes before presenting the ordinance to council.

During the public comment, resident Anne Augustyn asked why a parking time limit should be set.

Wilsusen said in order to ticket the students’ cars, the police need an ordinance to back it up. He said the police have issued warnings but parents have complained, so there has to be an official ordinance.

Finally, Millikin told council she will also be working on amendments to the outdoor gathering ordinance.

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