BLOOMFIELD, NJ – Township Administrator Matthew Watkins provided an update regarding how the COVID-19 response has been handled in Bloomfield during Monday night’s Council Conference Meeting at the Municipal Building.

“Our residents have been really good about the contact tracing, and our testing locations have been filling up quickly as we continue that process weekly, and we are adding more timeslots and moving the testing locations around the town to make it more convenient for everyone,” Watkins said.

Watkins announced that Bloomfield recently received a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) of $615,000.

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“We are looking for more funding for community testing, and funding to help our small businesses, and to help our food pantries,” Watkins stated.

The township is looking to continue special food pantry assistance and expand assistance in other areas of need within the community.

“Without food pantry assistance, we are looking at providing fresh produce through a farmer’s market or some other form,” said Watkins.  “We want to assist these pantries, as this is a time of great need and it’s not going to get any easier as time goes by.  People will also need to be assisted with other dire needs, like utilities and rest.  So maybe we should change the name of this program to Bloomfield Residents in Need and not just Special Food Pantry Assistance.  Hopefully, we can add $50,000 more to this program.”

Regarding the Farmers Market Committee, the focus will be on next spring to put this project together.

Small changes were proposed regarding construction fees, and the increase will bring the permit cost up to current standards, as they have not been raised in decades.

Approval was greenlighted to draft a resolution for the fire department to seek special counsel to approve the purchase of vacant property in town to use as training facility.

At the last meeting, an ordinance was passed to extend hours of outdoor dining.  That ordinance has been updated to amend hours of operations for all restaurants and retails shops to be open from 6 am to 12 midnight on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays for the duration of the outdoor dining season.

In an update from last month’s meeting regarding outdoor dining, Watkins said, “37 township restaurants have requested outdoor dining permits and we have approved 9 of them and they have barricades in place.”

In other business, there was an award of contract to Johnston Communications for Municipal Building security upgrades and improving door access for $82,929.02.

No decision has been made by the township regarding official Halloween activities.  The Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs has and preliminary discussions regarding hosting a small scale, socially distant event for kids.

“We will be good if we do it in a COVID-responsible way,” said Mayor Michael Venezia.  “As far as trick or treating right now, it looks like it’s on, but everyone must be aware that there are some houses that won’t answer the door.”

Councilwoman Nina Davis added, “at this time, it’s too early to tell where we will be at the end of October (regarding Halloween), as things change daily.”

Monday’s proceedings at the Municipal Building were held under social distancing rules and reduced seating capacity, with video livestreamed on the township’s Facebook page and WBMA-TV.

Bloomfield Township Council holds a Regular Meeting on Monday, September 21, 7:00 pm in the Council Chambers at the Municipal Building.