CALDWELL, NJ — During the meeting of the Caldwell Borough Council on Sept. 15, Councilman Jonathan Lace presented a Resolution in support of the Caldwell Police Department that was unanimously approved by his colleagues.
The resolution resolved that the “Mayor and Council express their unwavering appreciation and support for the Caldwell Police Department and unequivocally condemn any and all actions to delegitimize, insult, harass, threaten, and/or use violence against the institution of law enforcement, law enforcement personnel and/or property.”
Lace stated that the reason he decided to bring the Resolution forward was because “there have been reports…of police officers who are out there doing their job to protect the public and in some cases, at least in my opinion, of people going far beyond any reasonable means of non-violent protests. They are setting fires, looting, damaging public property and unfortunately we are living in a hyper-partisan politicized age in which people largely are failing to make very critical distinctions in terms of causes and reactionary causes…This is to give the council a chance to raise its collective voice to say we are aware of what is happening to police officers who are out there, who are faithful and professional in their duty, and we support them and we are always going to support them.”
Police Chief James Bongiorno thanked the members of the council stating that the Resolution will be “greatly appreciated by the members of the Caldwell Police Department and all members of law enforcement.” He continued stating: “I feel you all have shown great leadership in a very challenging time, not only during this health emergency, but addressing issues of systemic racism in our society. Going back to last month when you passed a Resolution in support of anti-racism…to tonight where you are showing you can support both. You can support anti-racism and law enforcement.”
The police chief then referenced the two sheriff’s deputies who were ambushed in their vehicle last week, one a 24-year-old officer and the other a mother of a 6-year-old. He continued noting that while they were being treated at the hospital there were protestors outside the hospital chanting anti-police sentiments, and “chanting that they hope they die, while the two deputies were fighting for their lives inside. This just can’t happen, violence is never the solution, it does nothing to bring us together.” The police chief concluded his remarks by asking the public to remember that police officers are, like the people they serve are fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, daughters, and sons. We all need to do better, and we can do better. I genuinely thank you for your support, not only today but every day.”
Caldwell Detective Matthew D’Angelo who is president of West Essex Police Benevolent Association Local #81, which includes the seven towns in the west Essex area, expressed his and the officers' gratitude for the council acknowledging the local law enforcements officers. He thanked Councilman Lace for drafting the Resolution and stated: “I have been a member of the department for 13 years, and we are fortunate to have a small community where everyone knows each other and everyone is very close and we know each other on a personal level. It is always our honor to be out in the community with the residents and children. I would like to thank you on behalf of the Local and the officers in the Caldwell Police Department for acknowledging the police department tonight.”
Council President Christine Schmidt introduced on first reading Ordinance #1392-20 which amends the existing ordinance regulating signage within the borough. The discussion for amending the existing ordinance began in 2013 and pertains to the commercial buildings and temporary signage for not-for-profits. Schmidt noted that some of the parameters of the ordinance address lighting, window coverage, colors, location, amongst other criteria. If a business falls within the Historic District, additional approval or consultation may be required by the Historic Preservation Committee. Existing signage will be grandfathered in and moving forward any replacement or new signage will be required to be approved. An application will be required to be approved by a Construction Official and signs will be subject to approval from the newly formed Signage Committee. Schmidt and Mayor John Kelley thanked the members of the committee who have been working on the updated ordinance, Lou Iozzi, Ellen Ryan, Paul Milani, Peter Byrne, and Patrice Latimer.
Lace took the opportunity to ask that residents be conscious and considerate of their neighbors, particularly children when places signs on the homes that include profanity. He spoke of his family walking in the neighborhood recently and having his children question the meaning of inappropriate language on a political sign. Lace also asked that the council address signage for private homes as the existing ordinance limits homeowners to one sign per property. Noting first amendment rights and various causes residents may support Lace suggested the limit of one per residence needs review.
Other resolutions passed on the consent agenda included the adoption of a policy on the removal and replacement of municipal street trees. The policy addresses criteria for removal such as if the tree were dead, infected by a disease, or if the growth interferes with the flow of vehicular traffic. Trees may be removed if they are causing uplifting of sidewalks that compromises the American with Disability Act’s regulations, or creates an unsafe condition which will make snow removal operations difficult or trees that are likely or have caused damage and/or blockage to underground utilities through the growth of their root systems.
During committee reports Schmidt announced that this coming Saturday, Sept. 26 from 10:30-12:30 p.m. on the Green, the Caldwell Public Library will be hosting a family friendly library card sign up event. Schmidt noted that although West Caldwell has recently withdrawn from the reciprocal library borrowing programs, other neighboring towns are still participants such as Roseland, Livingston, Fairfield, and Verona.
Councilman Henderson Cole reported that the Caldwell Community Center task force has been working throughout the summer in order to make recommendations to the council about the center’s future. He encouraged residents to review the videos of the meetings on the borough’s website. Survey results will be tallied to ascertain the borough resident’s feedback about the future of the center in addition to non-residents who are members of the center.
The next council meeting will be Oct. 6.