NORTH CALDWELL, NJ — The end of an odyssey that has lasted about 20 years for the Borough of North Caldwell took another step closer to reality on Tuesday night as the North Caldwell Borough Council voted to amend its contract of sale with Walker BN Etals for the purchase of the 17-acre parcel of land at 400 Mountain Avenue that served as the home of Elwood “Woody” Walker, who many consider the borough’s “First Citizen,” and his wife Carlee for more than 60 years.
Published reports say the Walkers shared Walker’s Pond, which is located on the property, with the community and that many borough residents ice-skated on the pond and attended tree lightings there during the holidays.
Borough council president Cynthia Santomauro said at the meeting she remembers efforts to acquire the pond property going on during her entire time on the governing body, and Mayor Joseph Alessi noted that those efforts have been going for about 20 years.
Santomauro said that an amendment to the sale contract passed on Tuesday enables minor decontamination of a portion of the property required by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and passage of the amendment will pave the way for completion of the sale.
She said the pond will be dredged and the borough hopes that it will once again become an ice-skating area. The only councilman to vote against the amendment was Joshua Raymond.
Raymond said that, although he considers purchase of the parcel a worthwhile project, the borough has many recreational needs and he did not think an ice-skating pond should be the first priority.
Also on the recreation front, North Caldwell Recreation Foundation member Jon Rapkin told the council on Tuesday that Mike Petry of Petry Engineering Consultants of West Orange has been working with the foundation on a study of all the borough fields and would come to the council’s Dec. 6 session to talk about his findings.
Rapkin said the foundation views the improvement of Liberty Field as its first priority and it hoped that the survey of the field could start before it becomes snow covered for the winter.
Costs would range in the area of $8,000 to $10,000, he said.
Rapkin also said the foundation has raised about $50,000 to finance its overall study of the borough’s fields.