Westfield Council Recognizes Green Team For Certification

By REBECCA MEHORTER
Specially Written for The Leader/Times

WESTFIELD — The Westfield Town Council passed an ordinance amending the Westfield Bicycle Board and read a proclamation in honor of the Westfield Green Team achieving Silver Level Certification from Sustainable New Jersey.

Mayor Shelley Brindle spoke at the regular meeting about the vaccination situation residents have seen throughout the state, acknowledging that there is “widespread frustration as demand outpaces the supply available for these sites.”

She said that Union County vaccination appointments filled up quickly when they opened last Sunday and that the county will not open more appointments for weeks until it can verify how many more vaccines it will receive.

Mayor Brindle reminded residents that the county is in control of all local distribution at this time. However, she said, the Westfield Regional Health Department, which serves eight local municipalities, is “continuing to explore other possible avenues to provide broader vaccination access for our residents. … We’re looking — leaving no stone unturned.”

The mayor thanked the Westfield Green Team for its hard work in achieving Silver Level certification from Sustainable New Jersey, an organization that promotes green practices at the municipal level.

Mayor Brindle said that of the 565 New Jersey municipalities, only 62 have Silver Level certification and that Westfield is the second municipality in Union County to be awarded this accolade. The certification demonstrates the town’s commitment to sustainability and increases its ability to receive grants and other funding, Mayor Brindle said.

To receive Silver Level certification, a town must implement three of 12 “priority actions,” complete actions in eight of 18 categories and establish a green team, among other requirements. Westfield completed 36 actions in 13 categories, Mayor Brindle said.

She cited the adopt-a-drain program, which had 120 participants, leaf collection, recycling at the conservation center, the rain garden installation in Tamaques Park and the work to allow front-facing solar panels as examples of the Green Team’s impact on sustainable local practices.

“This was really a collective effort of 20-plus volunteers as well as (Town Administrator) Jim (Gildea) and other town officials,” Councilman and Green Team Council Liaison David Contract said.

“This couldn’t have been accomplished without everyone’s hard work and effort, energy and passion. It just proves what volunteers really can make happen and the difference they can make.”

“This is documentation of a lot of stuff that the Green Team had done over three years and that the town had done with us,” Green Team Co-chair Tim Van Epp said. “Moving forward, the team will continue to maintain our certification and look for opportunities to brand the town as the most sustainable place to live and work and do business and invest and shop and so forth.”

General Ordinance No. 2203, which appoints a member of the Westfield Green Team to the town’s Bicycle Board, passed unanimously at the regular meeting.

The council approved a Code Review and Town Property Committee resolution to refer an application to designate 417 Prospect Street as historic to the planning board. Mr. Gildea said the property owners voluntarily came to the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) to have their home looked at for historic qualities. The application, already approved by the HPC, will now be examined by members of the planning board at their Monday, February 1 meeting. If approved there, the application will be read at the next council meeting for final approval.

The Code Review and Town Property Committee also read General Ordinance No. 2205 on first reading. The ordinance would change the caps of certain fees at the Memorial Pool like group swim lessons, swim team, aquatic programs and private event reservations. Mr. Gildea emphasized in the conference meeting that the ordinance would not change the 2021 membership fees.

The council also passed a resolution authorizing the purchase of a new/unused 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe for $45,489.41 to replace a utility vehicle “for use by the Westfield Fire Department’s Fire Prevention Division,” the resolution reads.

At the conference meeting, the council approved a list of event requests from multiple organizations, including the Downtown Westfield Corporation, the Greater Westfield Area Chamber of Commerce, the Westfield Baseball League, the Westfield Neighborhood Council and the Westfield Public Arts Commission. Mr. Gildea clarified that each event approval would be contingent on coronavirus safety precautions advised by the state at the time. He said that he had spoken with each organization and that everyone was understanding of this requirement.

The next town council meeting will take place on Tuesday, February 9, at 8 p.m. Residents are encouraged to watch via Facebook Live or Zoom. The Westfield Town Council Finance Policy Committee will hold a forum via Zoom at 7 p.m. tonight, Thursday, January 28, to review the 2020 budget, give an overview of the 2021 budget, and to hear input from residents.

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