CALDWELL, NJ - Traffic and parking concerns monopolized the discussion among Mayor Ann Dassing, members of the council, Borough Administrator Paul Carelli and Township Attorney Greg Mascera during Tuesday’s Caldwell Borough Council meeting.
A resolution authorizing a four-way stop control at the intersection of Forest Avenue and Hatfield Street was passed by a 5-1 vote, with Council President Richard Hauser voting against the resolution, stating his objection that in order “to be consistent,” he did not see the need for the four-way stop.
“People see the stop sign, they stop and follow the law,” said Hauser.
Mascera noted that the criteria for a four-way stop sign have been met and that the criteria are based upon statistics from a three-year period as required.
Discussion moved on to the process of determining parking needs within the borough. Councilman Frances Rodgers raised the issue of whether a parking authority commission should be formed to move forward with due diligence on the topic.
Mascera advised that creation of an authority was intensive and offered that a committee can be formed to move forward with a study. The council unanimously voted to support advertising for a Request for Professional Services (RFP) to hire a consultant to begin assessing the current and future needs of the community.
"We have anecdotal information, we need data to tell us the status of parking,” said Dassing.
Dassing also commented that the borough has four or five free municipal lots with a three-hour parking limit. However, she said there is no way to control that limit, as there is only one person to cover the enforcement of that limit.
She went on to state that there were 236 street parking spots and 437 spots in the parking lots. Better signage should be a consideration, she said, particularly regarding day-permit parking enforcement.
Both Rodgers and Councilman Jonathan Lace repeated that at this point vertical parking versus horizontal parking must also be considered. It was referenced that to build a parking deck for 100-car capacity would run about $35,000 per spot, totaling $3.5 million, and that money would need to be raised.
Carelli also noted the closing of the certain sections of the parking deck of the Caldwell Community Center, which will be closed until further notice while sections are being repaired.
In other news, Carelli also informed the council that Police Chief James Bongiorno has requested for a drone with a live feed to assist the department. He reported that a discussion had been engaged regarding making this a shared-service item with neighboring towns whereby the cost to Caldwell would be approximately $6,000 to $7,000.
The cost to purchase one for only Caldwell’s use would be approximately $10,000, according to Carelli. He informed the council that the Rotary Club is willing to partially fund the purchase of the drone to help offset the cost to the community.
Also discussed during the meeting were the corrective action plan for the fiscal year 2017 audit report and the feasibility of recommendations from the auditor.
One recommendation was to have a singular person within the administration act as a cashier for all departments. Carelli noted that there is a subrogation of duties with staffing in place and there were safeguards in place.
An example given was that the courts have a separate system and that they are autonomous. One centralized person acting as a central source was not practical, according to Dassing, who noted that with the ability now to pay taxes online there were now greater opportunities to “cut down on cash exchanges.”
As it relates to parking-meter collections, with the exception of a few older parking meters, most of the new meters have a cartridge that comes out intact, and there is no contact between the employees removing the cartridges with any cash.
Councilman Thomas O’Donnell voiced his concern that it has now been two months since the council was promised a monthly update regarding the state of sewer connections in the borough. Since no such report has come to the council's attention, he requested that the promised monthly reports be created and presented as agreed upon.
The next township council meeting will be held on Aug. 21.