CALDWELL, NJ – Ann Marchoni of the Caldwell Environmental Commission announced at the borough council meeting on Tuesday the winners of its poster contest on how plastic affects lives.

The winners from each grade level at Lincoln Elementary School spoke about their projects to the mayor and council.

“This contest reflects how plastic plays a part in our lives and how it makes life easier, but not always helpful to the environment,” said Marchoni.

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The students also presented to the council ideas on how to make Downtown Caldwell more vibrant and beautiful.

One example from the students was to take an empty store and convert it into a solar-powered arcade room. Another student’s idea was to create a walking tour with each historic site having a plaque and “QR code” that people can scan in order to hear a podcast.

Council President John Cascarano and Councilman Kris Brown thanked the students for their ideas and called it “refreshing.”

In other news, Mayor Ann Dassing asked the county liaison to look into the streetlights on Smull and Park Avenues, stating that the lights seem to be “out of synch.”

“I believe that those lights used to be in synch, but it’s not the case now,” she said. “Traffic builds up in that area.”

Councilman Richard Houser reported that the director of the Department of Public Works (DPW) said that mulch would be available to the residents by the end of the week.

Borough Administrator Paul Carelli updated the council on its healthcare proposal to the PBA.

“The meeting was met with some resistance,” he said. “Their consultant said not to accept it.”

Carelli also updated the council on the budget, stating that the school taxes should levy a 2.7-percent increase, or $15, to the average home in the borough.

“This will be my eighth budget and through those eight years, tax has increased a total of $170,” he said.  

Cascarano credited his colleagues for this success and noted that with these rates, people want to live in Caldwell.

Carelli noted that he sent a letter to the Essex Regional Health Commission regarding the fines the borough received concerning odors at the sewer plant. In the letter, he stated that the council invites the commission to its next meeting to explain the fines and that he was instructed to hold off on paying the fines until the council fully understands the situation.

Cascarano also asked the council to look into the property-tax savings program that Eli Weingarden presented at the March 21 council meeting. Houser had some concerns about the program, such as whether residents can go after the borough if they are unhappy with the program.

The council members agreed to look into more details about the programs and concerns they may have.

The next borough council meeting will be held on May 16 at 7 p.m.