LIVINGSTON, NJ — The first two weeks of serving as mayor of Caldwell have been busy for John Kelley, he announced during Tuesday meeting, stating that his immediate focus has been on the necessary repairs to the parking deck that have been continuous since the summer storms.

According to Kelley, assessing the structural damage done to the concrete is a priority, as it has been confirmed the integrity of the steel is intact. He also said an engineer has been retained to assess the options that will be considered in order to complete repairs to the deck.

Parking around the borough, particularly in the business district, continues to be a concern as well, according to Kelley, who intends to address the usage of parking spots behind Foodtown Supermarket.

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Kelley also reported that he recently met with PSEG representative Karen Freyer regarding lighting on Bloomfield Avenue and the parking deck, and intends to meet with with Chief of Police James Bongiorno to discuss the annual street fair.

The Caldwell Board of Health announced that a free rabies clinic will be held on Saturday, Jan. 26 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Caldwell Firehouse on Roseland Avenue. Dog licenses will be available for purchase during the event. (For more information, call 973-403-4623.)

In other news, Councilman Jonathan Lace addressed the community center’s operations and upkeep during his committee report, stating that he and Councilwoman Christine Schmidt met with Community Center Director Rosemarie Sutherlin to discuss plans to contract with a new cleaning company that may potentially save $25,000 annually.

The revised scope of work would reduce the current 91 hours to 52 hours, according to Lace. However, the plan for greater oversight and efficiency is expected to benefit the center.

Lace, Schmidt and Sutherlin also discussed outstanding needs for the center. In July, the borough council approved a $300,000 bond ordinance for a new pool-heating unit along with air conditioning upgrades, but no further action has been taken since then. Lace said that the council will need to approve a Request for Professional (RFP) service to go out to bid to begin the process. 

Sutherlin also requested that the borough approve a switch to Verizon as the new Wi-Fi provider after numerous complaints regarding the current provider Comcast. Also discussed was the need for new touchpads for swim meets, which would cost about $6,000, as well as the need to revisit issues surrounding the James Caldwell High School swim team’s usage of the pool.

Lace further reported that the Caldwell Environmental Commission (CEC) recently heard from Barbara Davis of the Land Conservancy, who guided the committee through an update of the Open Space plan. According to Lace, this should have been included in last year's Master Plan Re-Examination Report.

The CEC also initiated a discussion on its plans for Earth Day and passed a unanimous resolution to try to find funding for working with the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Water Resources Program to develop an Impervious Cover reduction Action Plan for Caldwell.

According to Lace, the CEC hopes to be able to apply for a Sustainable New Jersey grant due that is due on Feb. 15 and will meet with Dr. Chris Obrupta, Director of the Water Resources Program, to discuss. Additionally, two commissioners are currently participating in the Green Infrastructure Champions Training Program.

The CEC has agreed to hold its meetings on the first Thursday night of each month, rather than the second Thursday, for the remainder of the year.

Schmidt reported that the children’s room in the library is now open and the entire collection is available. She said the borough received an insurance payment of $74,000, and that the library foundation raised another $22,000 to pay for the new windows and repairs to the children’s room and director’s office that were damaged by the storms. 

Schmidt also noted that two upcoming fundraiser events will take place to secure funding for a new elevator: a murder mystery event on April 6 and a Wine Tasting on May 2. More information will be available shortly regarding both events.

Finally, Borough Administrator Paul Carelli updated the council on the replacement of and repairs being made to fire hydrants within the borough.  Carelli also informed the administration that there was an increase of $4.4 million in ratables, which has an impact of approximately $32,000 to the budget.

The next meeting is scheduled for Feb. 5 with a new start time of 7:15 p.m.