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Lake Safety Consensus Statement September 2020
The League of Women Voters Mountain Lakes recognizes the importance of a conscious, consistent effort to keep residents and visitors safe while enjoying our beautiful lakes. Based on research into drowning statistics and lake safety best practices, and in response to an extensive survey of Mountain Lakes residents, the LWVML strongly advocates that the community of Mountain Lakes takes the following actions, which could greatly reduce the risk of tragedy:
1) Developing and implementing general lake safety education focusing on both summer and winter best safety practices for all residents including:
A) Targeted, tiered curriculum in the schools
B) Adult and parental education
C) Education programs for lakefront homeowners
Educational opportunities should include CPR training, the proper use of personal flotation devices (PFDs), awareness of lake rules and regulations, cold water/ice safety precautions, safe rescue procedures, boating safety, and other relevant lake safety issues.
2) Enhancing the on-site communication of lake safety rules and regulations, to include more visible signage regarding both warm water and cold water safety information.
3) Making available rescue equipment such as ring buoys, rescue poles, and emergency phones at key lake locations, and the use of the Borough’s motorized boat from Island Beach.
4) Increasing lifeguard hours at swimming beaches, as well as lengthening the guarded swimming season.
5) Continuing support of the summer programs currently offered by the Borough, such as the swim test, swimming lessons, swim team, sailing camp, and lifeguard program.
6) Encouraging communication from the Environmental and Lake Management Committees regarding lake safety.
A core mission of the League of Women Voters of Mountain Lakes is the promotion of citizens' participation in government. In support of this mission, this study addressed how to encourage citizens to run for local elected office as well as volunteer to serve on school and borough committees and commissions. The study identified four critical areas for successful promotion of elected or appointed positions:
1. a formal system of "asking" qualified candidates to run
2. increased resident involvement in committees
3. comprehensive dissemination of information
4. making elected positions attractive to potential candidate
Support of our position recommending that the Board of Education vigorously pursue educational resources that can be accessed without increasing taxes to residents. Specifically, the League recommends that the Board of Education work with the local community to explore the following options: the creation of a development program, the establishment of a human resource bank, the establishment of a community round table planning meeting, the solicitation of funds for endowments to the schools, the use of wish lists, the use of new fund raising techniques to elicit community financial commitment to educational resources.
Support for our position to create a comprehensive watershed management plan to encompass all water that falls within the Borough’s borders. In addition the Borough should create a riparian buffer ordinance. Citizen education and stewardship programs are the keystones to stream and watershed management. The League supports a joint-committee approach to stream and watershed management.
Support of our position to carry out the recommendations of the Master Plan Circulation Plan as well as additional recommendations to improve the safety of our streets for pedestrians and bicyclists: These include use of traffic calming measures; improving safety around the schools, including initiating a "Safe Routes to School" program; maintenance of sidewalks, rights-of-way; adding striping, pedestrian-activated crossing lights, pedestrian-only streets, and improved public transportation. Recommends forming a community advocacy committee.
Support of our position to sustain the current level of commitment to emergency planning and preparedness in the Borough and to augment the current practices in several areas: expanding the mission and activities of the OEM and LEPC, resident preparation for an emergency, borough-to-resident communication during an emergency, and emergency planning and preparedness in the Mountain Lakes schools.
Support of our position protecting the Borough’s woodlands and open space from development, protecting streams, utilizing the Borough’s less sensitive open space for trails with care for the natural environment, taking judicious action to maintain the health of the woodlands and streams, and educating residents. Recommends forming a Woodlands Sub-committee and more proactive involvement with the streams.
Support of our position to continue compost promotion, leaf drop off at the ML Recycling Center, monthly curbside brush collection, and prevention of dumping on Borough lots. Encourages Borough to augment its programs, especially composting and curbside brush collection, through more active education and extended weekend recycling hours. Recommends Borough offer a leaf disposal option that is fair, equitable, and safe.
Support of our position to recognize Rt. 46 as an important part of our Borough and to treat it as such. Recommendations include asking the Borough to devote resources to improving the appearance and functionality of the highway, commissioning a design vision, encouraging support of the businesses and landowners, establishing a regular communication forum between Borough and businesses, pursuing outside funding for improvements, reviewing ordinances, and protecting the well recharge area.
Support of our position that recommends to Borough Council to form a Lyme Disease Committee to keep abreast of current research and coordinate various forms of community education and prevention. Also recommends that the Board of Education increase awareness of Lyme Disease among staff, students and parents and implement tick prevention maintenance practices on school grounds.
Support of our position to revitalize the Midvale area as a center of our community. Recommendations include forming a Borough Midvale Area Committee to address the implementation process, creating a pedestrian plaza, moving some Borough services to the area, a pedestrian and vehicular plan connecting the area to the library and post office, mixed-use zoning, landscaping, and investigating outside funding and consulting services.
Support of our position to reaffirm the 1987 consensus, and further urged Borough Council to investigate a Conservation District, establish an advisory review committee, require training for Borough representatives, consistently enforce ordinances, investigate zoning incentives, and educate the population on the historical and park-like aspects of Mountain Lakes.
1999 update of 1989 consensus
Support of our position on the quality of our drinking water and the need to prevent local contamination of the aquifer. Recommendations include acquire all land within 600 feet of well No. 5, a protective berm be constructed around Well No. 5, ensure adequate emergency plans for a spill and the passage of a well head protection program. Recommends that all wells in Borough are located and properly capped to prevent contamination of the aquifer and water conservation education.
1999 update of 1983 consensus
Support of our position to encourage the Borough Council to educate citizens and service people about the upkeep and preservation of our lakes, and for the Board of Education to adopt the study of our lakes into their curriculum.
Support of our position on the concept of the Mountain Lakes Educational Foundation as a source of funding for our educational system, with a majority of the funds raised going towards an endowment fund and a small percentage going toward a special project. Also, supports the Board of Education’s efforts to obtain grants, recognizes the benefits of school-business partnerships, and opposes the concept of "pay for play."
Local Government 1993
Support of our position on local government that makes recommendations on the role of volunteer committees/commissions in our local government, suggests personnel policies and practices for the staff at Borough Hall, and recommends the establishment of a task force to study improvement of communication from the government to the residents.
Parks and Recreation 1992
Support of our consensus to restructure the responsibilities of the Recreation Commission and its Director, to strengthen the sports and enrichment activities for K-12, and the renovation and upgrading of existing playground equipment on Borough property. In addition, the consensus supports the continued maintenance and improvement of all recreational facilities.
Local Solid Waste 1990
Support of our consensus to hire a paid professional to direct, coordinate and educate residents on the solid waste/recycling program and that the Borough investigate back door collection of recyclables, collection of bulky waste at the depot, Saturday depot hours, and per container fees.
Historic Preservation 1988
Support of our consensus that there is concurrence with the 1987 position and that Historic Preservation Districts and a public education program work to maintain the physical characteristics of Mountain Lakes.
Character of Mountain Lakes 1987
Support of our consensus on the preservation of the physical and nonphysical characteristics of Mountain Lakes, including recommendations to strengthen certain land-use and environmental ordinances to maintain this character.
Support of our recommendations concerning the purpose and goals of the Citizen’s Search Committee, which encourages residents to run for the Board of Education.