Following a protracted and contentious discussion, the Township Committee passed the ordinance overhauling Springfield’s Board of Health on Tuesday, June 26. The vote was split across party lines, with the Committees three Republicans voting in favor and the two Democrats voting against.
With the vote, the Board of Health will be composed of the Township Committee members and two residents with expertise in public health. It replaces the seven-member autonomous board composed of volunteers that the township previously had in place.
The matter has been fiercely debated in since the changes were first proposed in May. The tensions boiled over at a packed Committee meeting that was frequently punctuated by applause and interjections from the crowd as well as flashes of emotions from the committee members themselves.
Prior to the public hearing on the ordinance, Township Administrator Anthony Cancro emphasized that the plan was his idea, and he put it in the context of other shared service agreements he had initiated while working for Springfield.
Over a dozen residents expressed displeasure with the proposed changes during the public comment period, including former officials and members of the Board of Health. In his closing remarks, Mayor Ziad Shehady acknowledged the controversy but argued that in the long run the move would benefit the township.