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Facing Ire Over Exemptions, Committee Puts Brakes on Larkin Fee

Proposed charge for patrons tabled for further discussion

The Township Committee made an about face on a proposal that would have asked residents to pay $25 per use for access to the .

The mayor and committee faced pressure at Monday night's meeting from a group of about a dozen seniors representing Activities Unlimited, the members of which opposed the ordinance that included an exemption of fees for Wyckoff Senior Citizens Club but not for their group.

"We have enjoyed use of the Larkin House since it was first made available," AU representative Joseph MacDougall told the committee. "We treat the facility respectfully and after our use, make efforts to leave it in good condition."

MacDougall said that many groups using the meeting space are not comprised of seniors — including the Republican Club, the Tea Party, the Board of Education, the Power Squadron and Friends of Wyckoff — should be paying a fee.

Activities Unlimited is an organization of retired and semi-retired men sponsored by the Wyckoff Reformed Church that holds group events including a book club, bridge group and a band called the "AU Guys Band" at the Larkin House.

According to representative MacDougall, the local chapter of AU has 336 members — 114 of whom live in Wyckoff.

Wyckoff Mayor Chris DePhillips said that following a public policy subcommittee Tuesday morning, and in light of the contingency of AU members voicing their opposition to the ordinance as written, the proposal would be tabled.

The committeemen — in a unanimous vote — returned the ordinance to the finance committee in order to reexamine the portion of the law exempting certain groups from the $25 fee, according to DePhillips.

The 5-acre property on which the the Larkin House is built, was donated to the township in 1999.

The fees were proposed as a way to offset the price of operating the Larkin House, which according to Committeeman Kevin Rooney is in need of funds for new carpeting, a fresh coat of paint, and day-to-day utility costs.

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