CALDWELL, NJ — The members of the Caldwell Borough Council approved authorization to acquire the property located at 16 Park Ave. for an amount not to exceed $675,000 at its Nov. 17 meeting.  

The property is close to the Post Office, a property that the municipality is seeking to purchase with the intent of moving municipal offices in order to create a new municipal complex.  Second reading of this ordinance and the final vote will take place during the Dec. 15 council meeting.  

Resolutions passed included authorization for the business administrator to enter into agreements with the private communities, primarily condominium associations, located in the borough.  The agreements will memorialize reimbursements for snow/ice removal.  It had been determined that there were no prior formal agreements to confirm commitment on the part of the borough and the resolution will now codify the basis for reimbursements moving forward.

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The borough has entered into a new collective bargaining agreement with the Teamsters Industrial and Allied Workers – Local 97 for the period from January 1, 2020 through December 31, 2023.  The local represents employees from the Department of Public Works.  An annual 3% increase was approved, and Business Administrator Thomas Banker stated: “no other aspects of the contract had changed.” 

Councilman Jeffrey Gates questioned the increase noting that the municipality is statutorily limited to a 2% increase annually.  Banker noted that through attrition the department has seen reductions in force, so the 3% will represent a lower figure than currently exists and “the costs should go down.”

Residents will see the temporary barriers along Bloomfield Avenue that provided protections for outdoor dining be removed as the onset of winter arrives.  Also, in preparation for the upcoming holidays the council has approved the suspension of metered parking payments.  

In other news, an Open Space Trust Fund grant in the amount of $150,000 from Essex County was received by the municipality and will be used toward the purchase of property adjacent to Caldwell University.

Mark Guiliano, coordinator of the Office of Emergency Management for the borough, provided a COVID-19 update.  Confirming that New Jersey’s positivity rate has increased he stated: “the news is not good, and New Jersey is getting killed.”  Caldwell has seen a steady increase and Guiliano reported that Captain David Black of the West Essex First Aid Squad has confirmed they are seeing “sicker people this round and the patients they have transported are all ages.” 

He reported that local hospitals are re-erecting tents that had been taken down and health experts are very concerned as the holidays approach and are anticipated a “real problem in the next two to three weeks.”

Ann Marchioni, chairwoman of the Caldwell Environmental Commission attended the virtual meeting and announced that commission is the recipient of an Environmental Achievement Award due to their initiative that brought over 1,100 attendees together on a Zoom meeting this past Spring, to hear Dr. Doug Tallamy discuss pollinator gardens.  Marchioni, thanked the West Caldwell Environmental Commission, the Kiwanis Club and Morgan Farm for their support and assistance for the event.

Council President Christine Schmidt reported that as the Caldwell Community Center’s (CCC) Task force has completed their work, the primary focus at this point is the creation of a citizen advisory board to oversee the CCC’s operations moving forward.  The borough is seeking five to seven residents to form the advisory board who have expertise in multiple areas that are listed on the borough’s website.  The intent is to appoint members by mid-December.

Councilman Henderson Cole reported that there will be a Turkey Drive for the Caldwell Food Pantry on Saturday, Dec. 21 from 10 a.m. to noon at 14 Park Ave.  Non-perishable items as well as turkeys may be dropped off in a contact-less drive up drop off.  The borough is also conducting the Holiday Giving Tree virtually this year and tags may be picked up at town hall in the library.  Gifts are requested to be dropped off no later than Dec. 13.

Gates reported that the Rent Review Board will be proposing updated criteria as the last documents were previously updated in 1982 with rent price points that are consistent with rents nearly 40 years ago.

Councilman Francis Rodgers noted that the Historical Preservation Commission is seeking a new member and thanked the commission for “all of their hard work.”

Banker stated that during the Dec. 1 meeting a presentation will be on the agenda addressing the sewer capacity for Caldwell and the neighboring communities who share in the service.  The utility has reached its capacity and as COAH obligations and redevelopment plans are considered it is of the utmost importance that options are explored.  Banker stated: “the ability to implement a plan depends on the ability to get the municipalities to cooperate and execute a signed agreement.”