Wyckoff July 29, 2009 THE VILLADOM TIMES I • Page 5 Grant sought for Russell Orchards purchase by John Koster The Wyckoff Township Committee voted to apply for a Bergen County Open Space grant to potentially buy Russell Orchards for use as parkland. This five-acre tract on Sicomac Avenue, once targeted for development, is now back on the market. The 46 residents who attended the public meeting all appeared to be in favor of the proposal, and all those who spoke thanked the members of the township committee and encouraged Wyckoff to acquire the land. But the governing body only voted to pursue a grant application, not to purchase the land, due to unresolved issues. “The elephant in the room is tainted soil,” a township committeeman explained after the meeting. “There’s a lot of ferrous fertilizer contamination from the farm and we have to get a figure out what it would cost to remediate it before we move ahead with this.” Mayor Joseph Fiorenzo reinforced that the vote did not commit Wyckoff to the purchase, but merely approved application for a county grant that could be used in the future if the other terms proved to be acceptable. “It will probably take the remainder of the year just to get the necessary things for the county,” Township Committeeman Rick Alnor said. “It certainly is a very, very preliminary step we are taking tonight, but it is the right thing to do for the site at this time.” The price tag also raised some questions: Wyckoff now has $704,000 set aside in the municipal open space fund, but the asking price for the land from the owners, the Cole family, is said to be $2.7 million. Township committee members said they hope to obtain enough county money to make the land purchase possible without a heavy burden on taxpayers. Despite the concerns for pollution and price, everybody in the room was in favor of the proposal. Township Committeeman Brian Scanlan, a member of Friends of Wyckoff when the environmental group lobbied for the half-cent per $100 set-aside that led to Wyckoff’s Open Space fund, said the purchase of open space all over Wyckoff had been a goal of the group. “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a first step,” Scanlan said. “I’m glad we’re moving forward.” “Thank you for your group’s consideration,” said Bill Wolf, one of a dozen residents who spoke in favor of the project. “This is a unique and exciting possibility for us and I hope we go through with it.” “It could be a real win-win situation,” said Richard Lynch. “I strongly urge you to support it.” (continued on page 10) Cell phone stop reveals other violations Wyckoff Police Sergeant Michael Ragucci stopped a motorist for using a hand-held cell phone while driving, and found other violations. On July 14 at 3:50 p.m., Sergeant Ragucci observed a vehicle operated by a 20-year-old local driver who was also talking on his cell phone. Ragucci stopped the man because use of a hand-held cell phone is a violation of the motor vehicle laws. When he searched the vehicle, Ragucci found a carbon dioxide powered BB handgun and a butterfly gravity knife, both of which are illegal in New Jersey. A butterfly knife is similar to a switchblade, but is flicked open by wrist action rather than an internal spring. The man was arrested and charged with two counts of possession of a weapon, as well as the use of a cell phone while driving. He was released on his own recognizance and the complaints have been referred to Bergen County Superior Court. J. 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