By JACQUELINE DURETT
SAYREVILLE — The most recent Sayreville Borough Council meeting was a formal opportunity to say goodbye to Councilman Art Rittenhouse.
Republican Rittenhouse lost his position to Democrat Ricci Melendez in the election this past November. The council presented him with a plaque on Dec. 19, marking his service to the borough since 2014.
Mayor Kennedy O’Brien called Rittenhouse “my friend and my colleague and a darn good volunteer in the Borough of Sayreville for decades and decades.”
Democrats on the council also spoke highly of Rittenhouse. Councilwoman Mary Novak thanked him for his previous work on both the Board of Education and the historical society.
“I wish you years of success going forward,” Councilman Steven Grillo said.
Rittenhouse thanked his family for their understanding of the time commitment that being on the Borough Council requires and congratulated Melendez.
He said he still intends to champion the projects he had been passionate about while on the council, including the post-superstorm Sandy work on Weber Avenue. He said he hopes to serve on some committees.
He also thanked residents for their support, including during the 2016 election.
Also during the meeting, the council was required to commit to the 2017 meeting schedule. Novak said she was concerned about the tentative agreement to hold only one meeting a month for July and August. She said she had originally agreed, but had reconsidered and thought the schedule was too infrequent to ensure all issues were addressed.
“It may take the entire summer long to get anything done, so I would like the council to reconsider perhaps,” she said, recommending that for at least one of the months, the council holds two meetings.
O’Brien said he had initially thought the schedule was too infrequent, but reminded the council that additional meetings can be called if the need arises.
“We do have the legal authority to schedule additional meetings,” he said.
Novak said she was aware of the council’s power to add special meetings, but still had concerns with leaving the schedule as is, pointing out that it is a time of year when a lot of work in the town gets done because the weather is more favorable. She said business-as-usual issues may not necessarily warrant a special meeting.
O’Brien, however, said he thought more issues may be at play behind Novak’s concerns.
“It may not be the best campaign idea, to go to one meeting over the summer, but OK,” O’Brien said.
“Mayor, what did that mean?” Novak asked.
“Just more public exposure,” he said.
Novak countered that she did not care about exposure, but was concerned about taking a month or two to get an ordinance passed. O’Brien came back to his suggestion about scheduling meetings ad hoc and referred the issue to the council for a decision.
Council President Dan Buchanan shared Novak’s concerns, particularly about paying bills.
Councilmen Pat Lembo and Grillo said they were in favor of keeping the schedule as is. Rittenhouse abstained, explaining that the decision would not impact him.
With a tie, O’Brien sided with Lembo and Grillo.