WEST MIDDLESEX – Voices — and emotions — rose Tuesday during the monthly meeting of West Middlesex Council as it addressed subjects ranging from surveillance cameras at the borough building to a former councilman allegedly eavesdropping on an executive session by the current council.
During the meeting, Bob Lark, council president, demanded to know who placed surveillance video cameras at the borough building, which also houses West Middlesex Fire Department.
Adam Garrett, fire department president, attended the meeting to provide an update on the proposed merger between West Middlesex Fire Department and the Shenango Township Volunteer Fire Department. He said the fire department installed the cameras.
In a raised voice, Lark asked Garrett why the department put up the cameras. Garrett said fire department officials had suspected that people had damaged property at the site.
Lark said he thought the placement of cameras, whether by the fire department by the borough, required signage to inform the public of the surveillance. But Solicitor Bob Tesone, said the warning signs probably aren’t required.
“This is public,’’ Tesone said of the municipal building. “You don’t have the expectation of privacy.’’
Garrett said the fire department would work to resolve issues regarding the cameras.
“No, no, no,’’ Lark said. “The borough will decide.’’
Garrett said he understood.
Lark’s voice rose again as he addressed a new procedure for executive sessions. Under state law, elected bodies can hold executive sessions — private discussion away from the general public to discuss issues including employment matters, real estate negotiations and legal actions.
During an executive session last month, Lark said it became apparent that someone had been eavesdropping on the private meeting. A resident, waiting outside, put his head through the door and said he could answer questions being asked during the session.
Lark called the action “totally unacceptable,” and warned that council could require the audience to leave not only the meeting room, but the entire building.
“And if necessary we’ll have the police,’’ he warned.
Council members even turned their ire on one another after a 3-2 vote
Council rejected hiring a recent West Middlesex High School graduate as a temporary part-time summer worker to perform duties including cutting grass.
Councilwomen Cynthia Gilkey, Melissa Calvert and Maleia James voted against the motion while Lark and Bob Preston voted in favor.
As council discussed requirements and duties of the job after the vote, Preston, who presented the measure, said the job isn’t complicated.
“Why are we making such a big deal of this? This isn’t brain surgery,’’ he said.
Council then discussed the possibility of hiring a permanent part-time employee to replace a worker who resigned earlier this year.
After the meeting, Gilkey said she voted against the hire because she advocates hiring a permanent part-time employee to perform the tasks that would have been delegated to the student.