Borough council agrees to work on business opening plan

Subcommittee could produce legislation at next public session.

At its most recent public session, Palmyra Borough Council agreed to form a subcommittee and confer with concerned business owners to find a viable solution for restaurants to regain income as restrictions on business operations and social interactions are slowly lifted by Gov. Phil Murphy.

During the public comment portion of the June 1 virtual meeting, Maggie Dougherty of Park Tavern and Mark Oberg of 5 West Pub spoke about the precarious state of their establishments, and how to deal with the fact that any full reopening would coincide with a slow summer season.

“We’ve been out of business for three months, and we only recently started opening for takeout business,” Oberg said. “We lost March with St. Patrick’s Day, good weather in April, lost May and Palmyra Day, which is a great day for all of us. We’re losing June for all the graduation celebrations.

“We’ve been hit hard.”

Citing how certain shore destinations were able to open on a limited basis as a primer for Palmyra, he added: “It’s the restaurants that are hurting because we held out the longest and we’ll be hurt the longest.”

Both Dougherty and Oberg agreed they would look for short-term solutions to recoup some business and income, until their places of business can be fully operational.

Borough Administrator John J. Gural suggested council and borough governance form a subcommittee and floated the idea of crafting a resolution to be voted upon by the time of council’s next public meeting, scheduled for June 15. 

Gural hoped for quick work on all sides. After council’s aforementioned  June session, there would only be one such meeting in July, and time would be running out to approve a plan to help businesses if Murphy does not deem it safe for bars and restaurants to return to full service by then. 

“For the sake of the town, I think this would be an awesome move,” said council member Bernadette Russell, of the creation of the subcommittee. 

Oberg and Dougherty said they would be open to a time constraint for their establishments to operate, to be mindful of residents living near their  locations. 

On the topic of opening borough hall in the near future, as well as staffing and safety concerns, Gural again weighed in. 

“We have had a lot of Internal discussion,” he explained. “The staff is gearing up to open the building, in phases …. to bring back staff, and then, open to the public. We’re trying to look at more contingencies.”

“What we need is more direction from the governor’s office,” Gural added.  “(Borough) governance has to address issues like the number of people allowed in the building at any one time, or how to handle the offices whose hours and staff are staggered. We’re also looking at barriers, other types of doors for protection, in order to separate the public from staff.” 

In other news

 

  • Council passed an ordinance on first reading that appropriates  $22,000 from the borough’s Capital Improvement Fund for laptops with Secure Remote Access Implementation Improvements.
  • The governing body also approved a pair of resolutions, one that  appointed Tanyika Johns as interim tax collector for Palmyra on a part-time basis, one night per week, for $15,000, and a second  awarding a contract to Coastline Construction LLC for Sanitary Sewer Replacement (For Public Road Pump Station Elimination) Project in the amount of $905,833.50.