CALDWELL, NJ — Caldwell Mayor John Kelley announced at last week’s Borough Council meeting that the annual Trick or Treating along Bloomfield Avenue will be cancelled this year.
“The reason is historically there are very big crowds, and it is not just responsible to do this year,” Kelley said. “It is not safe or smart. The business owners are very concerned, and this is not the time to let our guard down.”
Kelley confirmed that there will be signage placed along Bloomfield Avenue notifying residents of the decision.
Trick or treating is anticipated to be “scaled back through the borough this year, with recommended State guidelines being followed.” Council President Christine Schmidt asked that residents “be mindful and respectful of neighbors' choices and not to judge each other for decisions” regarding participation of the holiday.
Councilman Jeff Gates questioned if the Trunk or Treat organized by the Kiwanis Club will be taking place and Mayor Kelley said that it will be cancelled and it was better to “err on the side of caution.” Director of the Office of Emergency Management Mark Guiliano confirmed that the CDC has offered guidelines that will not support that activity this year.
In recognition of Down Syndrome Month, Kelley and the members of the borough council presented, Caldwell residents Taryn Lagonigro and Jessica Wilson a proclamation memorializing the borough’s commitment to “be inclusive and supportive of people with Down syndrome, and to recognize the many talents, accomplishments and skills people with Down syndrome contribute to the community; and most importantly to encourage and practice acceptance…”
Lagonigro, a Caldwell resident, and mother of four gave birth to her fourth daughter this past March, who was diagnosed as having Down syndrome. Jessica Wilson, whose son Jasper who also has Down syndrome spoke of the joys of raising her son as he navigates his “tween” years.
Mayor Kelley took the opportunity to announce a new initiative that by utilizing the compensation he and the members of the council receive in salary, he would like to see the elected body each choose a not-for-profit at a monthly council meeting and be willing to match up to $150 in funds donated by each of their colleagues, in addition to the borough attorney and administrator. Kelley said that the campaign is to “raise awareness about different very worthwhile causes. Any member of the council, business administrator or borough attorney can initiate a matching campaign.”
Kelley began the initiative by announcing he would personally match individual donations up to $150 and then notify his place of employment of the total raised to be included in their matching funds program with all proceeds going to the National Down Syndrome Society. During the next council meeting Kelley will announce the total raised and initiate a new donation drive.
Guiliano provided an updated on COVID-19. During the last eight weeks, there were 139 residents who had tested positive and currently there are four active cases. There have been a total of 11 deaths of residents due to the pandemic. He stated that there are an average of two cases per week which was “an excellent rate” considering the there are approximately 8,000 residents. Guiliano urged all residents to get their flu shot this year and confirmed that there are multiple testing opportunities for COVID-19 free of charge to residents.
The council engaged in a discussion regarding the request by Mount St. Dominic to take over the Reindeer 5K Run, previously held by the Trinity Academy. It is anticipated that there would be 350 runners. An initial request for food trucks has already been rejected by the Health Officer Mike Fitzpatrick. Guiliano will gather information and present recommendations to the council as to whether the borough should permit the activity and if so, in what form. Giuliano cautioned that the event may “overwhelm emergency responders and it seems very reasonable that the event may unravel.” It is expected that the event would be subject to moving through three towns.
The budget for 2020 was approved by the council. Business Administrator Tom Banker reported that due to the increase in ratables there will be a lower tax levy than last year. The final rates are subject to the Essex County Tax Board once certified. Councilman Jonathan Lace made a motion to reduce the council’s salary to $6,500 for the 2020 budget. The motion was not seconded so the motion was then off the floor. Lace did approve the 2020 budget, however voting “No” on the line item reflecting the council and mayor’s salaries. Kelley did suggest a subcommittee be formed to consider elected officials salaries moving forward. He requested Lace and Councilwoman Frances DePalma-Iozzi form the committee, of which they agreed.
During committee reports Iozzi-DePalma reported that a newly installed bench at the pollinator garden will be dedicated at noon on October 30. Schmidt announced the library now has expanded hours of operation and encouraged residents to visit the Caldwell Public Library’s website for further information on hours and programming.
Councilman Henderson Cole updated all about the Caldwell Community Center’s task force. The subcommittees have presented their reports and the members will be reviewing the feedback from the survey that will be going out to residents and the community center’s membership. The surveys should be received by residents by early next week.
The next council meeting will be October 20.