Beginning this week (July 16, 2018), the Bergen Rockland Eruv Association (BREA) will be erecting the new eruv route across Upper Saddle River, taking down the white PVC pipe along parts of the temporary eruv route which will be part of the new eruv and installing black plastic strips (called “lechis”). In the parts of the route near the New York border, black strips will be installed on poles. The Borough urges residents to drive with caution around the workmen while these tasks are being performed.
You may recall that the Borough entered into a Settlement Agreement after BREA filed suit in U.S. District Court, Newark, claiming civil rights violations against the Borough for challenging an eruv that was erected for the benefit of Rockland County residents. An eruv is a religious-based demarcation that allows Orthodox Jews to do things such as push strollers and carry items on Sabbath and holidays when such activities are ordinarily prohibited outside the home. The lechis and wires across and between utility poles act as a boundary; as long as believers stay within the boundary they are permitted to push strollers and carry items.
On July 5, 2018, the Borough filed an Order to Show Cause asking U.S. District Court Judge John Michael Vasquez to find the BREA in violation of the April 2018 agreement because they had failed to change the eruv route to streets close to the New York border within the time required by the Agreement and because the BREA had been shirking the Agreement’s notice requirements to police and had allowed their subcontractors to perform substandard work in installing 10 poles on Borough right-of-way.
The Court was receptive to the Borough’s arguments and ordered counsel and all involved in implementing the agreement to meet and move the project ahead. The meeting was held on July 12, 2018 at Borough Hall and the Borough received specific assurances from BREA that the work would begin almost immediately, all notice and safety requirements would be observed, and private property would be respected and if damaged, restored. All approvals have been received from utilities for the project and most permits received by BREA; the Borough has been assured by Verizon that it would expedite its permits. The Court told the Borough’s lawyers that if there were further issues it would reopen the matter.