FAIRFIELD, NJ — Fairfield Mayor James Gasparini announced at Monday’s Zoom and conference call council meeting that both Churchill and Stevenson Schools will be closed to in-person learning through Wednesday, Dec. 2. Schools will resume for Cohort B on Thursday, Dec. 3 and on Monday, Dec. 7 for Cohort A.

The mayor reported that Stevenson is closed due to an increased staffing issue, and according to a letter sent to Churchill School parents from Superintendent Dr. Susan Ciccotelli, Churchill is closed due to a staff member testing positive for COVID-19.

Ciccotelli stated in a letter to the mayor that “the district is committed to remaining open as much as possible. We coordinate closely with public health officials and follow CDC, state and local health department guidance in order to assure the health and safety of our community.”

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Also at the meeting, the governing body, along with the Fairfield Police Department, decided that the ordinance stating no parking on streets at night will be fully enforced because of the danger of leaves piled up on both sides of the roads. Warnings will be given.

The police department asked the governing body to consider amending a township code to provide for the prohibition of parking and adequate signage to be posted on both sides of Big Piece Road from Hollywood Avenue north to the driveway of the Van Dessel house and on the north side of Hollywood Avenue from Big Piece Road west to the driveway of the Fairfield Library. 

According to the police department’s request, “The necessity for this ordinance stems from the parking of vehicles by attendees of soccer games conducted at this field. All too often, vehicles are parked on both sides of Big Piece Road from Hollywood Avenue to the Van Dessel driveway, creating both a hazardous and inconvenient condition. In addition, vehicles parked on Hollywood Avenue, adjacent to the field, often force the vehicles traveling west on Hollywood Avenue into oncoming traffic creating a substantial risk to public safety.

“The police department has tried to rectify the situation by posting temporary no parking signs, but this is just not sufficient and wastes valuable resources for an ongoing problem. This proposal also does not affect any residential property as none are directly adjacent to the location.”

According to what was said at the meeting, there is ample parking at the library, pool and recreation, but people find it easier to park closer to the field. The mayor and council agreed to look into this parking problem because they believe this curve in the road is dangerous under normal conditions. The roads belong to the county, so Fairfield will draft an ordinance and send it to the county to be approved by the freeholders. The council also believes there should be signage warning drivers of the curve in the road.

On other traffic matters, Chief Anthony Manna stated that the police were monitoring traffic on Hollywood Avenue near Craig Place because of a speeding complaint. The average speed was measured at 35 mph, which is not a problem, but Manna did say that some cars were speeding excessively. The police are aware of this and will be keeping a close watch.

The police department also recommended that the township establish “an ordinance that requires all future employees of the Township of Fairfield to undergo a police department background check, including fingerprint submissions to the New Jersey State Police, prior to formal employment. Currently, there is nothing by way of ordinance that requires for this provision for township employees. While the police department can conduct record checks on names provided by an applicant, the New Jersey State Police requires an ordinance if a fingerprint check of an applicant is being requested, which is the best way to determine a prior arrest record in all states and territories of the United States.” The mayor and council agreed this is necessary.

In other police department business, according to the mayor, the police department officially began using its new cellblock for prisoner processing. “For the last two years, our police department has relied exclusively on using the facilities of the North Caldwell Police Department for housing and processing prisoners. Between Nov. 2018 and Oct. 2020, the Fairfield Police Department processed 343 prisoners using North Caldwell’s facility.”

Gasparini ended by saying, “As always, North Caldwell has been nothing but great neighbors to us, so it is with much gratitude and appreciation that I and Chief Manna thank Mayor Alessi, the North Caldwell council and administration, Chief Deuer and the entire North Caldwell Police Department for their assistance and hospitality.”

The police department was involved in helping the St. Thomas More food pantry. Sergeants John McNish and Christoper Niemiec and Officer Stacy Chiarolanza coordinated the annual food collection drive. When on patrol, Officer Daniel Moran came across a local business called Common Cents, which is located on Kulick Road. It warehouses a variety of foods. As a result of this contact, the business delivered four pallets of food to the St. Thomas More food pantry.

In another event called Operation Christmas Child, Sharon McNamara, Chief Manna’s administrative assistant, and Officer Chiarolanza coordinated getting together 197 shoeboxes full of toys, school supplies and hygiene items that will be distributed to children around the world. The police department gave a special thank you to Fairfield Girl Scout Troop 20409 that helped fill 60 shoeboxes.

Councilman William Galese reported that the Municipal Alliance Committee is working on Winter Wonderland, but this year it will have to be very different. The event will be contactless, and it will include a drive by to see Santa and other attractions. No date has been established.

On recreation news, Councilman John LaForgia stated that there will be no official tree lighting ceremony this year due to the virus. He was happy to announce that for the first time all three levels of Fairfield recreation football were represented in the playoffs. Team C won, and A and B teams lost in the last 40 seconds of the games. 

Council President Joseph Cifelli reminded residents that the deadline for Blue Book applications was extended to Dec. 31. If any questions, please contact the finance office. The Blue Book is the senior tax freeze.

Business Administrator Joseph Catenaro stated that improvements being made to the municipal building are being covered by the CARES Act, and no taxpayer money is being used.

The council meeting was via Zoom and conference call due, not only to COVID-19, but to upgrades being made to the communication system in the council chambers.