WEST CALDWELL, NJ — After the West Caldwell Township Council agreed to approve an additional $10,000 within the municipal budget for the West Essex First Aid Squad (WEFAS) due to the recent demands for personal protective equipment and other necessary supplies, Mayor Joseph Tempesta received a call from a local business owner who offered to support the WEFAS anonymously by supplying the additional funds.

Stating that this anonymous donor has been part of the community for 25 years and wanted to support the volunteer squad, Tempesta said he immediately put the business owner in contact with the WEFAS to make the arrangements.

Although the annual contribution to the WEFAS is typically $15,000 for the Township of West Caldwell, Tempesta suggested increasing the total to $25,000 for the 2020 municipal budget and hopes that the other districts—Essex Fells, Caldwell, North Caldwell and Fairfield—will follow West Caldwell’s lead in allotting additional funds toward WEFAS services.

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Prior to the community member’s offer, the council had agreed to approve the suggested increase to the budget during the April 21 township council meeting, which was held virtually via Zoom.

Although the regular agenda was limited this week, the council approved Maser Consulting, P.A., to conduct the Kiwanis Oval Netting project and authorized a contract with Fredco Landscaping LLC for field improvements.

West Caldwell Mayor and Committee Reports:

During her committee report, Council President Kathy Canale noted that the Department of Public Works (DPW) is adhering to social-distancing recommendations while ensuring that projects are going on as scheduled.

Councilman Joseph Cecere thanked Fire Chief Michael Luker and the members of the volunteer fire department for keeping the community safe and acknowledged the “outstanding protocol” enacted to ensure the health and safety of the firefighters.

He also recognized Officer-in-Charge Captain Dennis Capriglione and other community members who have read to local youth as part of the West Caldwell Public Library’s “Virtual Storytime” program and commended those who have reached out to contribute to the borough’s supply of personal protective equipment.

Stating that he has found people to be “friendlier” than usual when he has been out in the community for essential purposes, Councilman Stephen Wolsky said it is refreshing to see residents looking out for their neighbors and that he hopes it stays that way. Although these have been “trying times,” he added that “West Caldwell is being West Caldwell and looking out for each other.”

Councilman Michael Doctoroff stated that the township has yet to determine whether community pools will be opened this summer due to health concerns, but noted that the early-bird discounted rate for pool membership has been extended until May 22.

He also said that the volume of used gloves being left around town is “not healthy” and urged residents to dispose of gloves and masks properly.

“It is not fair to employees to have to clean this up,” he said.

Capriglione reported that hospital admissions are leveling off, and that three police officers who were tested for COVID-19 have received negative results. Although two of those officers remain out sick, one of them has returned to work.

In addition to thanking local first responders and urging them to stay safe, Councilman Stanley Hladik briefly turned the conversation away from the pandemic to ask that the mayor advise him on when it would be appropriate to resume conversations with the Caldwell-West Caldwell Board of Education about shared services.

Councilman Michael Crudele reported the budget process is also continuing, stating that a preliminary budget will be presented at the next council meeting on May 5. 

Business Administrator Nikole Baltycki reiterated that municipalities have ben granted a one-month extension (until May 30 or next available meeting date) to adopt a budget.

Tempesta reminded residents about his reverse 9-1-1 calls that have been regularly providing the community with updates related to the pandemic.

“It is upsetting to do these reports because the numbers are not statistics but human beings,” said Tempesta.

Noting that the municipality had not previously been receiving accurate data from long-term care facilities within the community, Tempesta reiterated that the township is keeping those COVID-19 statistics separate from the community statistics.

He also confirmed that West Caldwell’s case statistics and number of deaths related to the coronavirus are comparable to communities with similar demographics.

The next council meeting will be held virtually on May 5.