LITTLE FALLS - Several proclamations were held during the recent Little Falls Township Council Meeting on Feb. 27.

Mayor James Damiano honored William Van Houten, a long time member of the Little Falls Planning Board. Van Houten was presented with an honorary plaque and was commended by Damiano for his longevity on the board, being initially appointed on Jan. 3, 1984 as chairman, and serving through Dec. 31, 2016.

Damiano presented the plaque, "in recognition and appreciation for Mr. Van Houten's outstanding and tireless efforts in service to our community."

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Damiano also declared March 2017 as Youth Art Month in the township and school district, along with Tracey Marinelli, Little Falls School District superintendent.

"Ms. Marinelli is joining me here in an educational initiative," he said. "Art education develops students' creative problem solving and critical thinking abilities. Art education gives kids a deeper understanding of multi-cultural values and beliefs. Art education reinforces and brings to life what students learn in other subjects and art education interrelates students in art production, art history, art criticism and aesthetics."

He said that support must be given to art teachers and urged that all citizens take an interest to give full support to quality art programs for children and youth. 

A proclamation was given by the township to the school district for the Morris Canal Greenway Outdoor Learning Center, which was recently developed as a group of passive recreation parks and preserves along part of the canal route. An open space grant had been obtained from the county to create an outdoor classroom in the park and a play area, made out of brownstone rocks.

Members of the Little Falls Board of Education, along with Marinelli, joined Damiano, who gave some background on the project.

"Ms. Marinelli had talked to me recently about beautifying one of the areas down by the Morris Canal Greenway area and the idea was to put an outdoor learning center in that area. It would be an opportunity for the children of Little Falls to walk from one of the local schools to the Morris Canal Greenway for a class in order to have an educational experience outdoors," he explained.

Damiano thanked the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission for its support of the project. He added that using historic sites and points of interest would foster an outdoor learning experience key for these opportunities.