NUTLEY, NJ  - The Nutley Board of Commissioners held a virtual public meeting Tuesday, March 17 due to the Corona Virus Pandemic. All five commissioners were present via the phone. During the meeting, steps to declare a local state of emergency and what it entails were discussed. Governor Phil Murphy declared a State of Emergency on March 9.

Two emergency meetings were held without public notice one on Friday, March 13 and one on Sunday, March 15 to prepare for the local state of emergency.

Deputy Fire Chief Paul Cafone and Office of Emergency Management (OEM) Coordinator Firefighter William Cassidy explained the advantages of Nutley declaring a Public Health Emergency. This will open up Federal Government funding, and enables the township to enforce stronger guidelines and rules. It also makes available Essex County and state resources to the township.

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According to Cassidy, all Nutley parks will be closed. According to Parks and Recreation Commissioner Mauro G. Tucci, all parks will not be closed. However all playgrounds, all buildings and facilities will be. Tucci said he feels it would be counterproductive to close the parks entirely as other jurisdictions have done. “We will not be closing the parks as of right now, because people need some place to go. But we will have people in place to monitor the number of people that are congregating in any one spot to stay below the 50 that is recommended by the governor,” he said.

Public Affairs Commissioner Steven L. Rogers added, “[Seniors] are trapped in their homes. […] We don’t want to create a problem where people are going to need therapy and we’re aspirating a problem. […] They got to walk just for their own sanity, but also there’s a lot of therapy they do as they are walking.”

In Nutley Dial-A-Ride is still available and meals are still being delivered through the Nutrition Program. The township’s nursing staff is also still visiting the vulnerable, disabled and seniors.

Tucci also added that the township also picks up medications for seniors. “So anything that we can do to satisfy needs of people, if they need medication, if we have to pick up anything for them that will keep them going and keep them healthy, that’s what we are going to do,” said Tucci.

Nutley Police Chief Thomas J. Strumolo Jr. said it’s in the Public Health Emergency declaration how Nutley decides to close the parks and will be discussed with the commissioners, the police department and OEM. “So closing the playground absolutely, but if we need to further do it at least it’s in the declaration so we can come up with an agreement with the commissioners to do that in the event that happens,” he said.

Rogers questioned the verbiage of the township’s declared Public Health Emergency. “Once we go with that verbiage that is going to go public and people are going to be under the impression that we are closing our town up for goodness sake,” he said.

The Public Health Emergency document is law once it is signed and declared. Included in the declaration is 50 or less people in any given space, closures of restaurants at certain times and no dine-in. The document can be amended if further guidelines need to be stated such the size of congregations, park closures, and whatever else is needed to slow this virus down.

The document also gives the township the ability to anything related to COVID-19 to go to a different vendor the township is not contracted with through the municipal government to purchase outside of that for items to lower the spread of COVID-19, such as hand sanitizer. And the declaration allows the township to be reimbursed.

The township signed the document the next day, March 18 declaring Nutley a state of Public Health Emergency.

Mayor Joseph P. Scarpelli suggested to promote the local businesses by having a “Take-out Friday” and Small Business Saturday.

Rogers suggested talking with Nutley Park ShopRite and asking them to do what Stop and Shop is doing, allowing a purchase time just for seniors. As of right now, ShopRite has dedicated Wednesday mornings from 6 to 7:30 a.m. just for seniors and those who are at risk.

Revenue and Finance Commissioner Thomas J. Evans said that the DMV mobile unit will be rescheduled to May 22 from 10 to 2 p.m., at the Parks and Recreation Building lot at 44 Park Ave., for license renewal with the new required validated federal driver’s license, car inspections and license plate redemptions.

Revaluation inspections for all Nutley property will be postponed until a later date.

Public Comment

Patrick* of Nutley, asked if there is a way that he, and others, could volunteer and help deliver to the elderly in the community. Commissioner Rogers said that is something they are looking into doing but they do not want to endanger the safety of others. He said Patrick should call the public health department and give them his information. Mayor Scarpelli suggested to call Nutley Family Service Bureau as well. Commissioner Tucci said he would let Linda Hamilton at the Parks Department know he is available to help Nutley seniors.

*Due to the virtual meeting TAPinto was unable to get the correct spelling of the person’s last name.