A Message from the Mayor

PROPERTY OWNERS: - If your property borders a piece of property which the Township of Washington owns, and you are interested in purchasing such adjacent property, please send a letter/email of interest to Mayor Peter Calamari  
PSE&G & SUEZ Raise Awareness of Utility Scams - PSE&G Scam Alert - view here &  SUEZ Scam Alert - view here
 
8/22/21 - In preparation for Hurricane Henri’s arrival, I reached out to our OEM Director Rio Fasciano to discuss any additional services we may provide residents. At this time our DPW will be on standby for any storm related issues.
As always we ask that residents contact our Township Police Department for any assistance you may need during this event.
☎️ 201-664-1140
⚡️ Please report any power outages/down lines to PSE&G
📱 Text OUT to 4PSEG (47734), report it online, through their app, with Amazon's Alexa or Google Assistant device or call 1-800-436-PSEG (7734).
Check your elderly neighbors and keep travel to a minimum as the excessive rain and winds can create unforeseen hazards. Stay safe.

8/6/21 - EMS Building Report - I am happy to share the attached reports regarding the new Emergency Services building (see here) . Hard copies of the reports are being delivered to the households within a 200 foot radius. I hope in reading the reports it alleviates the concerns that have been expressed by some of the residents.
As stated in my cover letter, any other concerns should be directed to the Administrator to avoid any miscommunication. The professionals on site as well as fire or ambulance personnel have no authority to answer questions or make changes.
Mr. Robert Tovo may be reached via email here

8/2/21 - Cigar / Vape Shop Sign - The town has taken action on the Cigar/Vape Shop sign that was placed in a storefront window. The attached letter was written by our Zoning Officer Joe Setticase on July 23, and served to the shopping center owner on the same date. The first summons requesting a court appearance was written this past week. At this time no use or change of use application for a Cigar/Vape Shop has been received by either the zoning or planning boards.
The town has two applicable ordinances (580-11.1 and 580-62) that prohibit vape product sales in town and prohibit a vape selling retail use.

8/1/21 - Franklin Court / Swim Club Response -  Good afternoon, I would like to address a few topics based around the Franklin Court/Swim Club stories published in the Pascack Press this weekend.
Regarding Franklin Court. I did welcome them during the Mayors Annual Breakfast meeting of 2020. The project was already approved via our most recent Fair Share Housing agreement and as such they will be held to all applicable land use laws consistent with a Fair Share Housing project. In welcoming them I was only attempting to establish a positive working relationship. I did also mention the potential burdens including financial that projects which are forced upon all NJ municipalities will put on our local school systems. It infuriates me that people in remote reaches of government have the authority to usurp well established local zoning laws in communities they are not familiar with and have never even visited. One of my many motivations for becoming mayor is to retain and preserve the single family residential quality of life we enjoy here!
Regarding the Swim Club. I clearly did not place the BLAME for the vote at the feet of Councilmen Cascio and DeSena. I said I was told by some of the club officers that it was a DECIDING FACTOR for them. There is a big difference between that statement and blaming them. To give the reader the full picture, I also summarized how each Council member voted both times the vote took place that week.
Councilman DeSena is quoted as saying “turnout was low and that the administration’s lack of vision for a pool operation beyond two years, including its lack of interest in a feasibility study, were reason members voted not to entrust the club to the township”. This statement is not consistent with the facts as I know them. During the negotiations I was told the members first priority was to make certain that a purchaser would try to make the pool a viable use for the property. That is why the two years would have been part of the township’s purchase agreement. I am very concerned whether the contract purchaser has made the same or longer arrangement in their agreement. It’s also worth noting that numerous times I made it clear that if the town pool could not be made at least expense neutral at the end of that time we would have to reevaluate it as we would be spending taxpayer money to make up any shortfalls.
Finally, on this topic, I find it notable that Councilman DeSena would say anything about the two years, as he wanted us to purchase the property without any swim club contingency at all. He is again quoted later in the article stating “DeSena said he would vote for the club’s acquisition if the agreement stipulated that the pool would be immediately shut down…”. As I have said many times in the past, I was told by the board that any offer made without a stipulation to continue the operation of the pool would be unacceptable. And again, the last statement of the article states he was “contemplating all my pros and cons going through my head. [I’m] really not in favor of running the pool but if that’s what it’s got to be for two years, I’ll vote yes. With all of that said and the fact that he changed his vote, I stated on my Facebook page “Councilman Desena then voted yes but made it clear he did NOT support any efforts to make a town pool viable. It showed a lack of commitment to the terms of the purchase and the vision that so many of our residents and constituents expressed and shared.” I did and still do believe that is an accurate statement.
Next the article states “Mr. Mayor, you are a liar. That would be my quote” DeSena concluded. I saw Councilman DeSena at the Township 3/4 Girls Falcons softball championship game vs. River Edge (I’m happy to report they won with a final score of 8–5). When we met he asked how things were going, to which I responded they were going good except for seeing he was quoted as calling me a liar. He immediately denied that he called me a liar. Being called a liar is a significant accusation. I know that if someone attributed that quote to me, I would be livid and do all I could to correct it! I would therefore respectfully request Mr. Desena or the Pascack Press publicly and enthusiastically clarify or retract that accusation.
In closing, I want to take this opportunity again to thank everyone for taking the time to read this and for your support. I have never and will never lie to you about anything. It is just not who I am. Once again, I became mayor to do all I can to make the town I love and and believe in, the best town it can be. Our residents deserve that level of honesty and integrity and I want to provide that to you. Your support and the work we do together to achieve that goal means everything to me.

7/31/21 - 44 Pascack Road Clarification -Once again, I need to set the record straight. And I will ask those who have accused me of lying to be as quick to clear my name and do it with the same enthusiasm with which they attempted to trash and discredit it.
The property being discussed in the email referenced in the Pascack Press was NOT the Swim Club, but was in fact 44 Pascack Road, or what I used to refer to as the horse farm.
Acquiring this property for DPW use was very publicly discussed and debated around that time. It was even discussed among many people on Facebook back then. A feasibility study was conducted. It’s in the record from council meetings. And Mr. Cascio was well aware of it and should have clarified it for the reporters he provided it to. He owes many people an apology if he mislead them into thinking it referenced the swim club and therefore was incorporated into an article about the swim club property. Also in the email was Councilman DeSena’s very enthusiastic response where he approves and endorses buying the Pascack Road property! I also respectfully request that Councilman Desena publicly acknowledge and go on record that he was aware of the fact that the email was referencing 44 Pascack Road and NOT the swim club.
Now the record has again been made clear. Now I have refuted and discredited the accusation that I lied about not putting the DPW at the swim club. I have again shown and explained the FACTS.
I am also offended at being accused of not responding to a request for comment regarding an email string from August 2019. I have an email from reporter Snyder on July 14th of this year stating, “I would like to continue our discussion on the 2019 email thread, as that will be part of our story, but that's not as timely as your immediate reaction to the swim club board's vote.”. I spoke to reporter Olohan a couple of times this past week on this swim club story. If the Press wanted a comment on the DPW all he had to was ask while we were on the phone. He did not. That does not mean I declined to comment. Perhaps if he asked me about it, I could have explained it and avoided all this.
I understand politics can be nasty. I understand this is a local election year. I understand people will attempt to spin information to suit their needs. But I ask the people of Washington Township to look at the facts. I am committed to making this town the best it can be, and I work hard every day in pursuit of that goal. What I do I do with that always in mind. People may disagree with me. Healthy disagreement is productive. But I do not lie, and accusing me of lying and spreading blatant and deliberate lies about me and what I do and say, when the people who spread them are well aware that they are lies, is just wrong. I question the motivation of those who do it. And I hope you will question their credibility and motivations as well.

7/28/21 - Westwood Rec Fees - Westwood is continuing to charge our residents out of town fees directly or indirectly through privately run recreational programs. The following letter was sent to their Council, our Council, and the members of our Rec Advisory Board earlier this evening, respectfully asking them to refund the out of town fees charged thus far and to work together towards a fair and appropriate agreement.
July 28, 2021 Westwood Council 101 Washington Ave Westwood, NJ 07675

Hello Councilmembers, I hope this letter finds you and the residents of Westwood well and enjoying the summer.
As our programs begin accepting fall registrations, I would like to bring to your attention some things about your recently changed ordinance as it regards to charging of out-of-town rates to Washington Township participants in the Rec programs.
As you may be aware, discussions took place between me and other Township Officials regarding a Shared Service Agreement that was proposed by Westwood Officials. The terms of the Shared Services Agreement were a proposed flat $20,000 payment from Washington Township to Westwood to cover “additional and extra costs” associated with the participation of Washington Township residents in the Westwood programs. It was stated that some of the extra costs are Mowing, Seeding, Clay, Irrigation, Irrigation maintenance, Lighting and Electric costs as well as administrative costs. Unfortunately, no detailed cost breakdown for these increases was ever provided. No comparison of these costs from one year to the next based on the increased participation was provided. It was never made clear if the $20,000 was based on a true cost increase breakdown or a perceived increase in expenses due to increased participation.
I nonetheless presented the proposal to both the Township’s Recreation Board and Council members, who both declined the request.
Washington Township is certainly open to Shared Services Agreements that are appropriate and accommodate the needs of both municipalities. However, it is my firm conviction that Shared Services are and should be between municipalities sharing in expenses to provide a given service or level of service to each of their respective residents. I do not believe Shared Services should create a situation of one municipality profiting in any way from the other.
It was reported in the Pascack Press as stated in one of your meetings there are 367 Township children in Westwood Rec programs. 367 x $25 = $9,175. That means the $20,000 Shared Services Agreement represents more than double the cost of the usual out-of-town fee and would therefore result in a profit for Westwood of over $10,000.
The out-of-town charge was proposed and implemented less than a year after we, in good
faith, combined the football and cheer programs. At that time, it was agreed this was for the mutual benefit and feasibility of both programs. To the best of my knowledge, no increased costs due to participation levels were suggested or discussed. Lastly, some of the programs use our Regional School District facilities that both towns’ residents already pay for.
Considering all of the above, I respectfully request that the Westwood Council reconsider the issue and reverse the out-of-town fee for Township residents and refund any fees that have already been collected, until more dialogue can take place and more information can be provided to come to a mutually agreeable arrangement.

7/26/21 - EMS Building Concerns - I have been looking into many of the concerns brought up at the Council Meeting regarding the new Emergency Services Building. I would like to thank those that appeared and took the time to raise these concerns. I will be addressing each of them going forward as I get more information.
First, I would like to clarify that in checking with the Town Clerk, it was confirmed that notification letters were sent to the residents within 200 feet of the existing Firehouse property back in 2019 as shown by the accompanying documents she provided. (Please see attached) Although the information is public, out of respect for our residents privacy I have chosen not to publish the full list of names and addresses. However, upon request, it can be obtained by sending an Open Public Record Request - OPRA - to the Clerk.
Since the project is a function of the Town Government, it did not require Zoning or Planning Board approval. It was scheduled and discussed and open for public hearing and questions at Council Meetings where it was on the agenda. The Council is responsible for all Council Meeting proceedings and functions and the Council President is responsible for the meeting agendas. The responsibility for notification of topics being discussed at meetings was with the Council and then Council President Desena. Therefore, any additional questions regarding the notifications should be directed to Councilman DeSena.

7/24/21 - Swim Club Vote - I was informed by the Washington Township Recreation Club that a final vote on the sale of the property took place and their Members accepted another offer. Obviously I, and I am sure a great majority of residents will share in my disappointment by this decision. The offer the town made was exactly what the Board asked for. I am, however, proud and grateful for the level of enthusiasm and motivation shown by the public in contacting the elected officials to express their opinions.
It also bears mentioning that I was informed a deciding factor in their choice was the underwhelming interest and enthusiasm and apparent lack of commitment shown by some council members during the council’s vote to acquire the property and make a good faith effort to make a town pool viable. Council members Feeney, Morgan and Sears were firmly in favor of the purchase. Councilman Cascio voted no twice. councilman DeSena initially voted no on the first vote when he thought is was the final vote. I then asked the swim club for an extension and the second vote was taken. Councilman Desena then voted yes but made it clear he did NOT support any efforts to make a town pool viable. It showed a lack of commitment to the terms of the purchase and the vision that so many of our residents and constituents expressed and shared.
I am concerned that although the club did not sell the property to a developer, there may be nothing in the agreement or the deed that would prevent or protect our community from such a sale in the future.
Any further questions, comments and concerns regarding the sale should be specifically directed to the Club.
Again, I encourage residents to always have your voices heard on all topics and continue contacting your elected officials regarding the future of YOUR town.

7/12/21 - Town Hall News
I am happy to report that Town Hall fully reopened to the public last week. The secure drop box will remain in front of the building, and it will continue to be checked multiple times per day, so please feel free to continue to use it for simple correspondence such as tax payments.  We are looking forward to seeing the Seniors return to their part of the building, and I understand they are too.

DPW News 
Weekly Garden debris pickups are well underway and trimming or roadside trees and brush is also taking place. 
Monthly household debris was picked up the week of June 7th. This Week, starting today July 12th, is the next scheduled pickup of household debris. So, if you have not already, check your calendars for what day pickup is scheduled for your zone. 
The next pickup of white goods and metal items is July 22nd.  If you have any items that you would like to be picked up – please be sure to call the DPW to get added to the schedule.
They have recently installed benches for the players at the basketball courts at both Memorial and Gardner fields.   
The lights at Memorial Field have been replaced and they had the desired effect of improving the nighttime visibility, making the field safe for use at night.
The staff assists with our Movie at Memorial night events.
And they rescued a deer that got trapped in a storm drain inlet. Thanks go out to the resident who made them aware of the situation.

Project News
A Purchase Order has been issued for the new Lightning Detection System Base unit. As soon as it is installed and synced with the individual remote units we will find out if any of them need to be replaced.
Attorney Poller will update the Council tonight during closed session on the property at 450 Pascack Road.
Land acquisition for the Intersection project is ongoing. This is a necessary but undesirable part of improving the intersection, as you can all imagine.  We have been able to secure agreements with all but one of the property owners.  
 
Public Affairs News 
We had our first two Movie at Memorial nights with three more to come on July 23rd, August 6th, and August 27th. The new owners of Township Theater have been helpful and are a pleasure to work with.  They have been assisting us with the events. Please treat yourself to a movie there soon.  One of the owners grew up in Wash Twp. 
We are excited to announce that the popular B Street Band will be returning to town on August 13th for our one and only Summer Concert this year!  We are looking forward to this night when we can all come out as a community again and enjoy some fantastic live music.  Gates open at 6:30 and the showtime is at 7:30. I want to give a shout-out to Pete Neary for approaching me with the idea this year. I immediately put him in touch with Public Affairs Director Daisy Velez and before I knew it, they had secured the County Show mobile and the band for the date. Parking for the event will again be at the Bethany Community Center … Thank you Bethany.  Your continued support has been so beneficial for the town, and it is appreciated. So spread the word to your friends and neighbors and join us some great, FREE entertainment and good old-fashioned socializing. Some of our local food merchants will even be putting together food and drink specials to go along with the event.  Be sure to check it out.   
Hosting great events like this is definitely the fun part of this job.  Providing opportunities for residents to spend their precious free time together in-town enjoying good music and seeing familiar faces are what makes this the type of community we love and are proud to be part of. 
What we have all been through this past year has opened our eyes to many things.  We like to hope that the unimaginable will not happen – but we have to be prepared in case it does.  What I am referencing here is the importance of maintaining the township Trust accounts at a healthy level and why they should not be drained, or why we have charged nominal fees for some of the attractions at a few of our events. Most of the events we are doing this year are being paid for from the money in the Trust Fund.  This year – the year when it is appropriate to do so.  The year that has been tough for most businesses and residents.  This year when it would be inappropriate to ask them to dig deeper into their pockets.  This year when we are proud to be able to put on much-needed events for community because we did not spend down the trust fund and it is in place NOW when we need it. 
Looking ahead, Daisy is working on Town Day and putting a 5k run event together.  Stay tuned for more updates. 

Library News
The library has new operating hours. They are
• Mondays - 9am - 8pm • Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Thursdays - 9am - 6pm • Fridays- 9am - 5pm • Saturdays- 9am - 12pm
 
The capacity limits are lifted, so all hours are now open browsing and there are no more time limits on patrons.  They are requesting that masks still be worn inside the library at all times. They are attempting to continue offering curbside pickup for those who may need it, but it will be on an "as able" basis. As of Friday June 25th summer reading programs for all ages are in full effect and will be taking place outdoors.    
 
Fire Department News
They have received training on the use of the new bail-out harnesses that many members are now carrying on their gear.
During the month of June, they responded to approximately 20 calls, one of which was a car fire in Hillsdale where we assisted them by supplying their truck with another tank of water.

Police News
Now that the budget has passed we can move ahead with ordering the equipment to support the new Radio System for the Police, Fire, and Ambulance departments. As a reminder, we waited to place the order until the County completed work on their new tower in Paramus so we could test equipment using that tower. As I have stated in previous reports, those tests went extremely well. It was worth the wait when spending such a large amount of money to make sure the system would work as anticipated.
Many people from the department participated in the Chief for a day event. This year’s Chief was our own Frankie Aiello. Please check the Police Facebook page for more information and pictures.
On June 6th three of our finest responded to a call of a possible narcotic overdose. Upon arrival the person was not breathing. The officers administered two doses of Narcan and revived the person. We commend the officers for their life saving work.
 
Recreation News
Our Summer Rec program is off to a great start!  Bethany had some work done on their pool that required inspections, so that delayed the start in using it.  I am happy to report that the pool passed all its inspections last week and is ready for use.  I am sure the kids will be excited. 
Councilwoman Morgan has started a new Cheerleading program that I am sure she will speak about in her report.

Engineering News
Boswell Engineering has drafted the Townships’ updated Stormwater Pollution Prevention SP3 Plan and is working with the Township and DPW in finalizing the plan.
They have completed the work on the 2019 2020 Road Improvement Program and are currently preparing documents for final NJDOT Grant Reimbursement.
The 2021 Road Improvement Program has been advertised for bids due tomorrow, July 13, 2021 at 11AM. The scope of the work includes the following roads for which the Township has received grants from the NJDOT:  
FY 2020 Grant of $200,000 for improvements to Ridgewood Road from East Glen Avenue to Linwood Avenue, and;
FY 2021 Grant of $210,000 for improvements to Hudson Avenue, Bridge Street & the Municipal Complex Parking Area.
 
Miscellaneous News
We have received the first installment payment of $480,000 from the American Rescue Plan. The auditors have told us that we can use $235,000 of the money for unrealized revenue due to Covid. That money will go into surplus to defray future tax increases to our residents. We await further guidance on the other permissible uses of the money.
 
6/30/21 - Swim Club Acquistion Clarification - To the great residents of this community,
It is naturally expected that information would be misconstrued during the process of acquiring the swim club property and taking advantage of the opportunity to secure open space in our town. However it has become necessary to clarify a few misconceptions. I am going on the record with the following statements and commitments. Therefore, if any statements are attributed to me that conflict or indicate otherwise, they are false and intentionally misleading.
? Misconception: The Township used taxpayer money to help fund the pool operations.
? Fact: The existing swim club organization is not and never was associated with the town. While the club used the name “Washington Township Recreation Club” it was not, and going forward, it will not be, an entity of town. It will effectively cease to exist once ownership is transferred. It’s no different than if a plumber chose to name the company Washington Township Plumbing. The town is in no way incurring any of the debt owed by the swim club business. Any debts secured by the property will be satisfied at the closing from the proceeds of the sale as do almost all real estate transactions of this nature.
As a private entity we do not have any say regarding how the proceeds from the sale will be spent, but we sincerely hope with the $600,000 from sale of the land to the town, the club would be able to pay its creditors and the bond holders.
? Misconception: We are buying a failed business for $1M.
? Fact: We are NOT buying the business. Bonds and bond holders are NOT the responsibility of the town.
We are buying over 6 acres of LAND for $600,000 with an agreement to spend $400,000 in good faith on repairs and upgrades in an effort to TRY and make a pool viable for 2 years. If the pool proves to be too costly to operate, it shuts down and the town owns the land free and clear of any further obligation.
? Misconception: The Pool Property will become the permanent home of Townships DPW Operations.
? Fact: NO DPW OPERATIONS will take place on the pool property as long as I am Mayor of the Township. There is a possibility for storage of equipment/trucks due to the increased equipment necessitated by DPW becoming more efficient and effective and doing more to service the needs of the residents than ever before.
??QUESTIONS or comments can be sent to me at mayor@twpofwashington.us
Once again, I thank you for your support and patience as we continue to move our community forward.

6/24/21 - 2nd Swim Club Vote - I am pleased to report that a second vote to acquire the swim club property was taken at tonight’s council meeting. I am elated to report that a member of the council changed their vote in favor of acquiring the property so that the town can move forward now and take advantage of this truly incredible opportunity to offer better and increased services to the residents as well as provide much needed protection from over development.
Thank you to the many residents who took the time, energy and opportunity to share your opinions, your voices were heard.

6/24/21 1st Swim Club Vote - I am saddened and disappointed that at Monday night’s Council Meeting, we did not receive the minimum four votes needed to borrow the money to purchase the swim club property. It may almost guarantee that the property will go to developers. And that would certainly cost the taxpayers significantly more than the $1.50 per month for the next 20 years to acquire the property as I documented in a previous post.
I realize this is an election year and that means politics. And that is something we could all use less of. I believe this issue may suffer as a result. I believe it may be getting “politicized”. But this is about our town’s future. A future that will extend beyond any of the elected officials. It is about ensuring a better town for our current and future residents. Previous administrations and Councils allowed the infrastructure of the town to fall into disrepair and obsolescence. All those who have run for elected office in the past few elections have agreed on that. It was shortsighted and irresponsible, and we ALL wanted to see it change. Now it has. The projects that should have taken place over previous decades are completed or under way. And unfortunately, now the bills are coming due. I acknowledge that it makes a purchase like the swim club property seem difficult at this time. But we did not choose when the property would become available. We agreed that if we purchase the land, we will invest and try to make a swim club viable. We also agreed that if in two years, that does not work out, we own the property without restrictions. As I have previously stated, the total cost, even after the investment, would still be well below market value for the six acres of land.
The town is not in the business of real estate or land development, nor do we want to get into those businesses. But the foundation of communities and government is and always has been a collection of people with shared values working together for a common good. It means essentially, to contribute a portion of our individual resources for the benefit of the community we belong to. It provides for and maintains our collective safety and to maintains and increase our overall standard of living. This acquisition falls well within that scope. It allows the township residents to decide for themselves and determine their own future, their own destiny, with regard to how that last open space that is not already owned by the town gets used.
We will not have another chance to take advantage of this unique opportunity. But we must act now. This is our last chance. I urge everyone reading this to show their support for the purchase before and during Thursday night’s Council meeting. Children, Parents, Seniors, this decision affects you all. Force the Council to revote on the issue. Implore the Council Members who voted NO the first time to change their votes. I and they work for YOU.
Long before most of us were here, some people thought we needed fields and parks. And others at that time may have opposed the idea. But thanks to the efforts of those who prevailed, we have Memorial Field and Sherry Field and Gardner Field and Lincoln Park. Imagine if those efforts had failed. It makes me think of President John F Kennedy’s famous speech about landing a man on the moon. He stressed that the United States was going to the moon “not because it was easy but because it was hard, because that challenge is one that will measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone......”.
So please, do not let this once in a lifetime opportunity slip away!
Hold your Council accountable.

6/18/21 - Thought on Swim Club Purchase - Some residents have asked me about the downside of putting 6 – 8 higher end single family houses on the swim club property. I am obviously family friendly and recognize that type of development would be consistent with the character of the Township. But I am also pragmatic. I look at the dollars and cents.
It is reasonable to conclude that each one of those houses would be property taxed at approximately $25,000. Approximately 65% of that goes to the schools which means about $16,000 of additional school revenue per house. It is also reasonable to conclude that each one of those houses would be purchased by a family with more than one child. That means there would be a rough minimum of 12-16 more children in the school system. The cost to educate a child in our school system is approximately $20,000 per child per year. That would create an additional School tax burden of $240,000 - $320,000 per year. That burden would only be offset by an additional $96,000 to $128,000. Therefore, those 6-8 single family houses would add an additional school tax burden on the existing Township residents of $144,000 to $192,000. This is a simple cost estimate. It represents a “best case scenario” if the property were bought by a “reasonable” developer who is content to forgo potential profits and work within the existing zoning. It also does not take into account negative but intangible factors such as increased school class sizes.
So, while I certainly welcome and encourage new families into the Township, my primary concern is for the financial health and future and quality of life of those residents who are already here. And as such I support and propose that the Council vote in favor of the Swim Club property purchase for the following reasons:
I have reached out to several local realtors. They relate that a community Swim Club is a deciding factor when people are considering moving into a town. It is a gathering place for friends and families to socialize. Therefore, it adds value to existing houses while causing no future school tax increases to support more children in the school system. A win/win for existing residents!
There is no other six-acre piece of property in the Township that connects to an existing town owned field. We can never just “build more land” and so therefore we have a once in a lifetime opportunity here! The future possibilities are endless and can and will be decided by the residents expressing their great ideas and creativity to their fellow residents, their elected officials! However, if we do not acquire the property, we do not have any options for the future.
We can purchase over six acres for $600,000 with an agreement that we will put an additional $400,000 into the facility. As is my job as Mayor I worked with the swim club representatives to get a great deal for the Township considering the other offers they have received. One of the primary reasons for the great deal is they see the value to the community and its residents in having a town pool. They decided to offer it below open market value to the town with the understanding that we will try to run it as a Swim Club for a couple of years. If, after that period, we see that the property cannot support that use, we will be free to use it for other recreational purposes.
We have considered and researched grant money to offset the purchase cost. They all come with restrictions. We can Bond the purchase over 20 years and not have any restrictions. According to the Town Auditors, at current interest rates of about 2.5%, it will cost each homeowner with an average assessed value of $465,000 an additional $1.50 per month or $18 per year. As I have demonstrated, this is a significantly less impact on the Washington Township taxpayer than even the best-case scenario if we do not!
Please let your voices be heard via email or at Monday night’s Council Meeting.
Lastly and as a footnote:
Our neighboring community of Woodcliff Lake recently purchased the former Galaxy Gardens property, a 2.25-acre site for $1.65 million dollars, and it needed extensive environmental remediation. Therefore, they paid appropriately $730,000 per acre. We would be acquiring the swim club at approximately $167,000 per acre.
Thank you for taking the time to read this in its entirety and for your continued support.
4/6/21 - HOUSEHOLD GARBAGE PICK UP - With regard to the household trash pickup issue I would like to explain what the town has and is currently doing.
At the beginning of 2020 there was discussion with the council regarding the town providing household trash pickup for the residents and rolling the additional cost of that service in with property taxes. It was agreed that the administration would look into the costs for various levels of service with some haulers. As the administration did so, the covid crisis began to increase and intensify. Business and school closings were happening at a rapid rate and for unknown and extended durations. Conversations with the haulers to spec out bids and inquire about the various service levels ended consistently with the response that any quotes they could provide at that time would be significantly inflated due to the pandemic. They explained that with people confined to their homes for school and business and unable to travel or even go out for recreation, household trash would increase exponentially. They would have to take this potentially open ended increase in tonnage pickup into account when giving prices.
Based on this feedback the administration decided to wait and see what the future would hold as far as covid and trash pickup. The situation has now been brought to the forefront given the recent significant rate increase some residents have been charged. Therefore, the administration has again begun the process of getting quotes for household trash pickup for the town.
?? When these quotes are received they will be made public for discussion amongst the residents and governing body. Public input will be foremost in the decision process and feedback will be solicited from the residents to assist the governing body in choosing which option would best suit the town as a whole.
Additionally, I spoke informally with a few Mayors from surrounding towns and asked about their service.
(For your convenience, I’ve listed information gathered below:)
?Hillsdale provides pickup to the residents at a cost of approximately $518,000 for weekly pickup for approximately 3500 residences. They are considering contracting for a twice weekly pickup for an additional $125,000.
?River Vale and Old Tappan currently run the same way township does. Residents contract directly with the haulers.
?Montvale pays approximately $790,000 for roughly 2800 residences for once a week and two during summer months. This also includes their recycling.
3/24/21 - Monday night would have been the first Council meeting I would have been able to attend in over a month and I planned to give a status update on the topic of the DPW. The meeting was canceled in the late afternoon and so I was unable to update the Council and residents at that time.
As many are already aware, an extensive search for a suitable temporary location for the DPW was conducted. We exhausted every possible location both in and out of Town. We took suggestions from the Council and residents and investigated anything that was feasible. The decision was ultimately made to construct a two bay garage at the Town Hall site where the existing DPW building is located. This decision was not easy and was based on the fact that the DPW already operates from this location and the deadline for remediating the soil is fast approaching.
This remediation is a result of contamination by a fuel storage tank leak that occurred onsite in the 1970's and 1980's. A portion of this contamination is underneath the existing building, so the building must be taken down as part of the project. It should be noted that the existing building was long obsolete, unsuitable, and well past its service life. Prior administrations were aware of the problem and deadline for remediation but action was not taken until now.
I can assure the residents that no additional Hazmat will be stored onsite. I will add that the town is doing all it can to minimize the impact to the surrounding residents.
3/18/21 - As we continue to progress, residents can physically see areas within our township that are undergoing changes that will ultimately move these long awaited projects forward. I am happy to provide an update that will better explain the work that is being done on the intersection of Pascack Road & Washington Avenue...
?? Seasons Properties
An Agreement in Lieu of Condemnation has been executed. Deeds of Easement for the Township and County have been approved and are in the process of being circulated for execution. The PSE&G Easements have been approved by Seasons and are out for approval by PSE&G.
?? PSE&G work is near completion
?? 680 Washington Ave.
We have a fully executed Agreement in Lieu of Condemnation.
?? 667 McKinley Ave.
The County and property owners attorney reached accommodation on some changes to the County easement form. We are in discussions with the attorney to finalize the provisions of the Agreement in Lieu of Condemnation. The property owner has hired an appraiser to do an appraisal for comparison to ours. This is not uncommon and was performed on the Seasons properties as well. The amount agreed upon will be the only open item for the Agreement in Lieu and Easement to be executed.
?? 680 McKinley Ave. (Used Car Dealership)
We are still in the process of negotiation in hopes of reaching an agreement with the property owner. They recently changed their representing attorney which has naturally caused delays . A title report was ordered as we did so for all the properties. Should our negotiations not succeed, we are simlutaiously moving ahead with a condemnation filing.
Intersection Plans: CLICK HERE
As always, I encourage residents to stay informed by tuning in to council and budget meetings that are live streamed for your ease and convenience. Please utilize our many lines of communication to voice any concerns, ask questions and even share positive accolades.
3/17/21 - Good afternoon Township Residents, I would like to start by wishing everyone a blessed St. Patrick’s Day.
As I continue to recover from Covid19 I would like to take a moment to thank you all for your thoughts, prayers and kind gestures towards myself and my family.
The past few weeks have been a challenge, my bout with Covid unfortunately resulted in some time spent in the hospital where I was able to receive great care and attention.
At this time, I am on supplemental oxygen for what looks like another week to help aide in what I am happy to say my doctor feels will be a complete recovery.
With the exception of the first couple days during my hospital stay, I have been in contact with the administration and staff as needed. I expect to participate in tonight’s planning board meeting as well as tomorrow’s budget meeting. I look forward to moving our township ahead with great care and as always truly appreciate your support in the process.

 
3/7/21 - On this beautiful Sunday afternoon, I would like to share with you a message that was read on my behalf during the council meeting this week: On February 20th I tested positive for COVID-19. I am progressively improving and look forward to a full recovery. Although I am not able to attend (tonight’s) council meeting, I continue to represent you and work for you as your Mayor. I am in consistent contact with the administration and staff. As always, the administrator, employees and council are accessible to you to answer and address any questions or concerns you may have. Please be sure to utilize our official website and Facebook page for information and updates. Take care, be well and stay safe.
2/16/21 - Fire/Ambulance Building Update:
We received a significant Change Order on the construction of the new Fire/Ambulance building that I want to make the residents aware of. There was an unforeseen change in the design due to a soil refusal which in layman’s terms is an underground condition that was found when the Contractor was attempting to construct the Retaining Wall portion of the build. The Council was made aware of the cost (detailed below) and the design change. These changes (weather was also a factor) have resulted in a delay of the completion of the project which now looks like end of 2021.
The amount of the Change Order is $206k. The previous Change Orders which were also for unforeseen underground conditions totaled the amount of $21,696.
We allocated $313,000.00 for unforeseen contingencies, leaving a balance of $85,000.
We believe this should account for most of the contingencies as they were underground.
Due to these changes the Architect will be joining us during tonight’s Council meeting to answer any questions the council may have. I encourage residents to tune in for more information. The regularly scheduled council meeting is live-streamed on YouTube: view here

 
02/01/2021 - STORM UPDATE
As of 9:45 pm this evening, thanks to our resident storm reporter, Stormy Marino’s #BedazzledSnowYardstick measured 23 inches of snow in the Twp. of Washington. With weather predicted to change to sleet, there is the potential for ice buildup which may cause hazardous conditions. We ask that residents continue to stay home and only travel if absolutely necessary.
The members of our DPW are working tirelessly on snow removal. They are working in shifts and taking rest and safety breaks as needed. They are concentrating on the primary roads, and are in contact with the police department should anyone have an emergency condition on a secondary road. We ask for, and appreciate, your patience and understanding during this challenging and lengthy storm.
Please exercise extreme caution when venturing outside to remove snow, and if we have any residents who would like to share options for private snow removal please feel free to comment below to help our neighbors who may be in search of such services .
If you lose power, please report it immediately to PSEG (1-800-436-7734) or via their web site or mobile app. Stay well and safe! Mayor Peter Calamari
01/26/2021 - EQUIPMENT UPDATE - Our DPW workers are already hard at work preparing for the expected inclement weather. Yesterday they applied brine solution to the roadways in anticipation of the forecasted snowfall. I am certain they will continue the terrific work they do by keeping the streets passable for emergencies and necessary travel during the snowfall as well as cleaning up the roads after the snowfall ends.
This administration, working with the council, has invested in new and updated, modern snow removal equipment in the last couple years. The new equipment, when combined with the employees’ knowledge, experience and work ethic, will enable them to do the job more safely, effectively and efficiently then ever before. In addition to newer and more modern plows and trucks, the town has a 2019 Ford F-550 Hook lift truck with an approximately 400 gallon brine tank and an International 7 Series truck with a 925 gallon brine tank.
The county roads get brine in each direction. For example, Pascack Road and Van Emburgh Avenue get one pass North bound and one pass South Bound, Washington Avenue and East Glen Avenue and Ridgewood Road get one pass east bound and one pass west bound. Linwood Avenue gets one pass west bound. All secondary roads get brine as well. It takes approximately 1500-1800 gallons of brine per event to treat all the roadways in the Township.
Brining saves time and money and increases the effectiveness of snow removal and plowing. The solution is simply salt mixed with water. The brine, when applied to the roadway prior to snowfall, prevents the snow and ice from hard bonding to the road surface. This enables the plows to operate more effectively and clear the snow down to the surface with less passes. It is considered a more environmentally friendly process as well. It significantly reduces the amount of road/rock salt needed for ice melting. This translates into less salt running into our streams and waterways.
Even with the crews out doing their job, please try and limit non-essential travel during the snowfall when possible. Less traffic on the roads during the snowfall enables the employees to do their jobs most efficiently and keeps everyone safe. 
01/22/2021 - DPW RELOCATION EFFORTS - I want to thank Westwood Mayor Ray Arroyo and the Governing body in Westwood for AGAIN reconsidering our DPW request. The Mayors of the Pascack Valley meet monthly to discuss issues effecting our Towns and how we can assist each other. Mayor Arroyo and I speak more often and in more detail because of the things we already share. Westwood's response is similar to what the other municipalities and the County have also told us.
There have been many who have accused me of not reaching out to our surrounding towns to work together on matters or for their assistance. Mayor Arroyo’s message clearly proves otherwise. I would therefore respectfully request that those who have chosen to propagate and perpetuate these false and malicious rumors without knowing or confirming the facts or listening when I have made prior statements to the contrary, will point out what is now clearly the truth, and acknowledge they were wrong, with the same enthusiasm they used to perpetuate misinformation.
Transparency is often spoken of by various public officials and private citizens. I believe in transparency and I and my administration are and have always been as fully transparent as the law allows. Some matters by law MUST only be discussed in closed sessions. I don’t like this fact but as Mayor I am bound by it. I am proud of the work and effort of this administration and all the people in it and I would like nothing more than all of it to be public all the time. I can assure you that myself and those in my administration are working diligently and tirelessly and intelligently as your public servants and elected officials. But to go against these laws could jeopardize the work that is being done or open the town to civil liability. This administration has never denied or withheld information that was asked for or requested by any member of the council or public.
I will continue to research options for the DPW but time is running short! Many options have been investigated and explored and found to be not viable for various reasons. I hope the Council and administration can work together to find an acceptable solution in the next couple weeks. In the spirit of cooperation I have been open to and investigated Councilpersons suggestions and ideas whether I was initially in favor of them or not. I ask that those same Councilpersons be open to and provide positive and constructive input on various viable solutions as well.

January 22, 2021
Westwood Mayor Ray Arroyo:  Westwood Governing Body members recently attended a meeting at Sherry Field, along with our Township counterparts and residents from both towns.
Township had reached out to Westwood last year about possibly sharing space at our DPW for temporary quarters while their current facility undergoes demolition and rebuilding. At that time, the borough determined it could not accommodate our neighbor’s request for several reasons: foremost, space was limited on our DPW property where Westwood stores its DPW rigs and 1033 Federal Surplus Vehicles and equipment. Considerations of commingling the staffs of both towns while COVID protocols are in place also factored into our decision.
Township was considering the lot adjacent to Sherry Field - currently the site of its leaf collection operations - for two temporary structures to house their DPW Equipment. Residents of both Westwood and Township were concerned about additional truck traffic, intensity and line of sight along the narrow street. The buildings were to be placed adjacent to residences and required a treed buffer to come down.
Sensitive to these concerns, Westwood proactively sought other options: Councilman Montana suggested that a nearby area at Westvale Park - WPDs former pistol range which is awaiting DEP approval of a lead remediation plan - might be a suitable alternative site. I’d asked Boswell Engineering (who is the Borough Engineer for both towns) if we could make this work but unfortunately DEP floodplain regulations preclude Westwood from prepping the contaminated site with the necessary vapor barrier and fill that would also be required for parking vehicles there.
Westwood had hoped to help our neighbors as well as our own residents impacted by the Sherry Field plan; however neither Westwood DPW property, nor Westvale’s former pistol range can be the solution for the reasons stated above.
I have conveyed the same to Mayor Calamari who understood and who, along with his governing body colleagues, are exploring other options.
These joint meetings between towns were not in vain. While at the Sherry Field meeting, we discussed the rough condition of that portion of Lafayette Ave which straddles the two municipalities. We now look forward to working on a joint Community Development Block Grant application with Township to mill and pave Lafayette Ave. I have asked Boswell Engineering to see if that might be coordinated with Township as part of Westwood’s 2022 Road Program
1/02/21 -  HOLIDAY HOME DECORATING CONTEST - Visit here for the winners!
 
11/8/20 - TOWN HALL STAFF TO WORK REMOTELY FOR ONE WEEK  - A member of the Administrative Staff who has limited interaction with the rest of the staff has tested positive for Covid-19.  As a result, that employee will be self-quarantined and will have to follow all CDC and Health Department guidelines before returning to work in approximately two weeks.  All employees have been notified, and the building had its regularly scheduled weekly full sanitation on November 8, 2020. Out of an abundance of caution, the Town Hall Staff will all work remotely for the week of November 9, 2020.  Mayor Peter Calamari • Administrator Robert Tovo
10/29/20 - UPDATE ON FIREHOUSE CLOSURE -  We would like to provide an update on the closure of the firehouse. At no time were any residents or businesses in town exposed through this incident. The time between the exposure and the closure of the fire house the department did not respond to any calls. Notifications would have been made had there been. This was done as an extreme precaution. At no time was the entire department on quarantine. As per guidance from the CDC and the health department 3 members were quarantined. Out of an abundance of caution we decided it was in the best interest of the department to take a pause and test all of our members who even remotely may have been exposed as a way of ensuring the safety of our department and its ability to provide the services we do. We have since tested all of the members with zero positive tests. We will remain out of service with mutual aid coverage until November 3rd. We would also like to thank our neighbors with the Hillsdale, Paramus, and Woodcliff Lake Fire Departments for covering us while we ensured the safety of our members and our community. Sincerely William Bilias, Director and Kevin Zitko – Fire Chief
10/27/20 NEW ADDITION TO THE TRAFFIC DIVISION

Chief Skinner and Mayor Calamari are please to announce our new traffic vehicle acquired through the 1033 program. This program allowed us to acquire this vehicle from the government and was placed in service with minimal expenses to paint and letter the vehicle. Great work by P.O. Mike Ferrarini, Lt. Roy Scherer and Lt. AJ Pecora!
10/22/20 - FAIR SHARE HOUSING OBLIGATION UPDATE - After much effort the Township has secured a “Judgment of Compliance and Repose“ regarding our Fair Share Housing obligation. This court judgment protects the Township from overdevelopment by builders who try to force multi-family housing in zones where it is not currently permitted. This so called "builder's remedy", can not be used in Township for the ten year period from July 2015 to July 2025.

This is a tremendous achievement for our town! It is one of the strongest tools we can have to prevent developers from bypassing our zoning laws through the courts. It helps us maintain our control and self determination over building and development in our town.

I will continue my commitment to protect and preserve Washington Township from overdevelopment and building projects that negatively affect the quality of life we enjoy here. And I am proud of the team that helped make this possible.

As we move forward from this accomplishment, I am meeting with some residents this weekend to exchange ideas about potential overdevelopment in their neighborhood. As always I encourage residents to reach to out to me with their questions, concerns and accolades too! I can be reached via Email: mayor@twpofwashington.us  • Phone: 201-833-4801
Mayor Peter Calamari
10/21/20 - FIRE DEPARTMENT SHUT DOWN - Earlier this week there was a Covid-19 exposure incident involving the Twp. Fire Dept.  Out of an abundance of caution, effective immediately, the Fire Dept. has been temporarily shut down while we perform contact tracing and Covid-19 testing for any members who may have been exposed directly or indirectly, as well as any other members wishing to be tested.

In order to seamlessly continue to provide the services to our residents and our community, we have arranged for formal full coverage of the Township through our mutual aid departments in the neighboring towns. The Twp. Fire dept. is working in conjunction with the Twp. OEM, Administration and the Health Dept. on implementing our return to service plan.

Our utmost concern is always the safety of our residents and the members of this department. We are not taking these steps lightly and we would just like the residents to know that you remain safe and protected.

Please keep the brave members of the Department and their families in your thoughts and prayers.
Mayor Peter Calamari • Chief Kevin Zitko • Director William Bilias

 
10/18/20 - ALL FIELDS CLOSED - In conjunction with Westwood and the Westwood Regional School District, out of an abundance of caution and to hopefully get our children back into the school environment as soon as possible.... The Township will be CLOSING ALL FIELDS in town effective immediately for two weeks. Parks will remain open for now. 
 
10/18/20 - WWRSD MOVING TO ALL REMOTE FOR 2 WEEKS  - WWRSD will transition to remote instruction for 2 weeks and will resume in person instruction on Nov. 2. For more details and info click here.
10/16/20 - MAYOR CALAMARI / PASCACK VALLEY MAYOR'S ASSOC. PLEAD FOR INCREASE TO 50% CAPACITY FOR INDOOR DINING - In a letter sent to Governor Murphy, all the mayors in the Pascack Valley unite in their plea for an increase in indoor dining allowances for local restaurant owners struggling to hold on as the weather turns colder. Click here to read the message
9/22/20 - News regarding our Football and Cheer Programs: Due to declining participation in our Football programs the decision was made to merge the Township program with the Westwood program for this year. This was the only practical way to ensure those children and parents who wanted to participate in a recreation football program had access to one.
Because Cheer and Football are closely tied together, Cheer was also merged with Westwood for this year.
After this year, a new, private organization will be formed to ensure equal representation from both towns to support the Cheer and Football programs.

We are pleased to continue to build on our relationship with our neighbors in Westwood for the mutual benefit of all our residents. Cooperative efforts like this are a natural fit given our shared school system, and provides another area of benefit for our children and are just another example of what makes the Township of Washington such a terrific place to live and raise a family!
Mayor Peter Calamari • Rec Director Eamonn Twomey • Cheer Program Coordinator Desserie Morgan
9/7/20 - Labor Day is a holiday to celebrate our nation’s workforce for all of their contributions to our country and its economy. Our thoughts and prayers go out to anyone who is currently unemployed due to Covid or for any other reason. If anyone needs help our Covid task force is still operating and will help people in need to the extent possible.
The Taskforce can be contacted via email at: covid19taskforce@twpofwashington.us or by calling 201-383-9474.
Wishing all our children, parents and teachers the very best for a good start to the school year during this trying time. Enjoy the rest of the official Summer season. #TownshipStrong Sincerely, Mayor Peter Calamari
8/27/20 - I invite you to take a moment to read the following letter to Governor Phil Murphy  On behalf of The Pascack Valley Mayors Association. We came together to voice our support of safely returning to indoor dining so our local small businesses can provide jobs and a chance of survival as the colder months are rapidly approaching. Our neighbors in Rockland County, NY have been successful in doing so, we deserve the same opportunities...click here for the letter
 
8/25/20 - The day has finally come, bids were opened today for our Township’s NEW Volunteer Fire & Ambulance Building. After coordination and many meetings between the town administration, engineer, architect and most importantly the members of the departments, I’m excited to see this project pave the way to making our Township better than ever. I will update the community on the progress via this page and thank you for your continued positive support and interest.

8/4/20 - The storm has moved on but the wind left us with a lot of damage including downed trees and power outages throughout the Township.
If you lost power today, as so many of our residents did, please be patient as service is restored.
Our Office of Emergency Management, DPW, Fire & Police Departments have been doing an amazing job responding to emergency calls and clearing the main roadways as quickly and safely as possible. Please help them by not venturing out unless you absolutely have to.
Note, if a tree has wires it must be safed off until PSE&G clears the wires.
If any branches have fallen on property we ask that they are pulled to the curb or edge of sidewalk (not in the street or blocking sidewalk) in manageable pieces and will pick up as soon as possible.
As a reminder:
THERE WILL BE BULK PICK UP TOMORROW - Please be patient as our DPW will be working overtime to clean up from the storm and pick up our household debris.
RECYCLING will be picked up tomorrow as well. Please visit the DPW webpage for any questions on recycling and debris pick up:
COOLING CENTER - In case of extreme heat and loss of electrical power, the Township will make the Cooling Center which is located in Town Hall (Jack Woods Senior Center) available to residents. For details and hours see here: https://www.twpofwashington.us/page/180006394/180121327/Cooling-Center-Procedure-
 

7/08/20 - On May 6 the administration received notification from the WWRSD Business Administrator that the Lightning Detection System was deactivated at the Westwood Regional Middle School due to the ongoing construction at that site. The Washington Township parks and fields were closed at the time of the notification. When I was notified that the system was still deactivated, and not functioning at the Washington Township Schools and Parks,  I contacted the WWRSD Business Administrator. I have also posted the information on the Washington Township  website, had a Swift Reach  message sent to the residents and instructed the DMF to cover the Lightning Detection System signs at the parks and fields. Signs informing park users that the system is not functioning were also ordered. I have been in communication with the WWRSD Business Administrator on a consistent basis. He assured me this afternoon, that the system will be functional again in approximately two weeks.  When the system is operational I will have the signs uncovered, the information updated on the town’s website and have another Swift Reach message sent out.  Please continue to exercise caution when using the parks and fields especially during inclement weather.


7/07/20
As we have been enduring some rather stormy Summer weather, it was brought to my attention late last week by Councilman DeSena and several naturally concerned parents, that the lightning detection system at our fields are not functioning. After researching the reason for the system outage that many residents depend on for its reliability, I found that the main antenna, located at the Westwood Regional Middle School and shared with Westwood and Emerson, will continue to be inoperable for the foreseeable future due to the on-going construction at the school.

At this time we recommend avoiding the parks during inclement weather and if you have a smart phone, download a weather app that provides lightening detection notifications.

Signs will be placed on all lightning detection systems alerting visitors that they are out of order until further notice. I will continue to keep the residents informed as I receive updates from the school district.  

Mayor Peter Calamari


7/03/20
I want to thank the members of the Council for approving the Town Budget Monday night. This ended the need for the temporary budgets we had to operate with due to the delays caused by Covid. We now look forward to continuing moving our town forward by starting the following new and much anticipated Capital Projects:

  • A long awaited new Ladder Truck for our Volunteer Fire Department
  • The 2020 Road Improvement Program
  • New equipment for our DPW so they can continue the great work they have been doing.
  • An Energy Management System for the Library and Town Hall buildings to better control the HVAC and lighting systems in the buildings and automatically turn off when areas of the building when they are not in use, saving Gas and Electric money and use, therefore helping us be environmentally friendly.
  • Speed Limit warning and control devices around the Town.


These continued improvements, combined with our terrific residents, volunteers and professionals will continue to ensure what I have always known and continue to believe, that Washington Township is the best place to live and raise a family and is the envy of the other towns in the Pascack Valley!

Happy Independence Day to all!
Mayor Peter Calamari

6/30/20
The Township is facing building/development applications for a few potential projects along Pascack road. Please click here to view current zoning board applications and check back regularly for updates.

These matters are brought before the planning and zoning boards respectively for different phases and levels of review prior to denial or approval. The boards weigh the applicable zoning ordinances and codes as well as the Township’s master plan in making their decisions. But they also weigh another factor, HEAVILY. And that factor is input from the public.

So please, call in to the meetings and ensure your voices are heard on these projects and applications. Your opinions matter! The boards are mandated to listen to and record public comments on these projects. They can use these comments and the issues raised in making their individual and collective votes and decisions.

The nature and type of comments and opinions that are expressed can range from quality of life, traffic, property value impacts, population density, tax implication, school enrollment, emergency services impacts and many many others.

JFK once said “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”. Now is the time to do something for your Township! Please ensure your voices are heard by the boards with regard to these applications and projects!

This is your town! Help us, to help you, to shape and guide it’s future based on YOUR wants and needs and desires.
*All meeting dates/agendas are posted on their respective pages (Zoning Board & Planing Board) as well as the online calendar.


6/28/2020

Estimated Tax Bills have been printed and mailed and should have begun arriving in residents’ mail during the last few days. As I have stated during several previous Council Meetings, Estimated Tax Bills are another unfortunate reality of the unprecedented Covid-19 crisis. All levels of government, including our own local government, have been delayed and been taking extra steps to address finances in light of the ever changing circumstances of this epidemic and the financial impacts it has created. Therefore, definite amounts from both our own and other agencies, that the town collects and disseminates the taxes for, were not available in time for the Town to submit the actual amounts for the next four quarters. The Tax Collector had to create an estimated tax amount based upon their training and education and experience. This is also why there is no detailed distribution breakdown on the Estimated Bills. When the Tax Collector has the true and accurate amounts from all the agencies that receive money from your tax bill, a full detail will be provided like it always is on the actual bills. If the Council approves the budget as is ‪on Monday night‬, a residence valued at $465,000 will see a local municipal increase of $79. Please see page 9 on the accompanying budget document. (See link below)

I would like to take this time to remind residents that the town collects taxes for the Westwood Regional School District, Bergen County, the Library and the Township of Washington. The portions of the tax bills for 2019 break down as follows:
 

  • Westwood Regional School District: 64%
  • Township of Washington: 23.5%
  • County of Bergen: 11%
  • Library: 1.5%


This means the municipal services that are provided to the residents are paid for with less than 25% of the property taxes we pay.

These services include but are in no way limited to the

  • Police and Fire Department providing round the clock police and fire protection
  • the DMF providing services such as park and building and grounds maintenance and snow and leaf removal
  • the Township Clerks office
  • Tax Collectors Office
  • Administration Office
  • Municipal Court
  • Building Department
  • Code Enforcement
  • Zoning and Planning Boards
  • Recreation Department and several other departments and services.
  • Municipal tax dollars also assist the Washington Township Volunteer Ambulance Corp as well as our very own WCTV cable television network.
  • Capital and infrastructure is also paid for by the municipal portion of the property taxes.


These include:
 

  • Road Paving and Improvement Program,
  • Upcoming new Fire and Ambulance Headquarters Building
  • Town’s portion of the Washington Avenue and Pascack Road Intersection Improvement Project
  • Parks and Recreation facilities improvements as well as many others.


I am proud to assure you that myself and all the Department Heads, working with the Council, provide these services in the most cost conscious and efficient ways as possible.

Savings are sought where appropriate and cost versus benefits are heavily weighed and analyzed and debated to ensure the residents get the best balance. Best practices are followed where applicable and the highest standards of ethics and integrity are always the greatest priority.

Please feel free to contact me with your thoughts and questions and concerns and ideas. I have always known that the Township’s residents are its greatest assets and make this community the shining star that it is and the best place to live and raise a family!

As always stay safe and have a happy summer!

Click here to view Introduction 2020 Budget Document: 


6/03/20 - Here we are in June. In some ways it seems like time is zipping by and in other ways it feels like it is standing still.  Thankfully, things ARE moving forward, restrictions ARE being cautiously loosened, and the weather is also trying to remember that it is June.  Let us all have faith that better days will come. 
Which brings me to the first item I would like to report on ……  

Parks and Fields
I met with members of the DPW, Police, and the Administrator yesterday. We are working on a plan to safely reopen our parks and fields. The outside timeframe to do so is the end of the month, but hopefully sooner if things fall into place before then.

Coronavirus in Wash Twp.:
As of last night, we have had 98 confirmed cases of Coronavirus among our town residents. Please continue to be mindful as you go about life with less restrictions … and assist your neighbors … and practice appropriate social distancing procedures.

Memorial Day and Parade
I hope you took time to enjoy the Virtual Memorial Day ceremony and parade, which this year also fittingly paid tribute to all the frontline workers. If not, the A block of it is available on WCTV’s YouTube channel.  It was a commendable production brought about by the dedication of our volunteers and the enthusiasm of our residents. I am quite proud of how they made sure that Covid did not stop our veterans from being honored and having a ceremony.
I am appreciative of all their work – particularly during this difficult time. 

Property Taxes
I am pleased to report that tax collections for the last quarter were close to what they normally are during a non-pandemic time.  I can only hope that may be a positive reflection of the overall financial health of twp. residents.   Due to the current Covid-19 situation, the reporting of all necessary amounts from several government agencies will be delayed.  Therefore, this year we will be mailing estimated tax bills for next quarter’s payment.

New Ambulance and Fire Department Building
Concluding a significant amount of work from both organizations and administration, as well as constant communication with the architect - I am happy to report that the bid package should be ready by the end of next week. Many thanks to the members of both the fire and ambulance departments who worked closely together on designing an attractive, efficient space that will serve the town for many years to come.   
 
DPW Services
I am sure everyone will be glad to hear that starting this week, the DPW is back to being fully staffed and has resumed the curbside debris pickup program. They are experiencing higher than usual volume this year. If they do not get to your house on the assigned day, they will get there the following day. We have identified temporary locations for the DPW department to operate from while their building is demolished and the soil underneath it remediated. I expect to have the lease and layouts of the use for the space available to present to the Council at the next regularly scheduled meeting.
 
Police Promotions
 
It gives me great pleasure to announce the following promotions recommended by Director Giblin and approved by me to take effect Wednesday July 1, 2020:
 
Patrol Officer Vincent Santa is promoted to the rank Corporal.
Special Officer Robert Luscombe is appointed to the rank of Police Officer.
 
Restaurants
 
We look forward to our restaurants reopening. We will help them with any special requirements they may need from the municipality.
 
Pride Month
 
June is designated in the US as National Pride Month. It is a time when we recognize the actions that many brave people have taken to eliminate the oppression of LGBTQ people and replace it with the freedom to be themselves … pride.
 
Considering the protests that are currently happening all over the world with the intent of transforming oppression into respect, we stress the need to recognize that we are all better off when we dare to understand each other and share our commonalities rather than fearing our differences.  After reviewing different Proclamations, I think the one we did last year still says the message best. Therefore, I would like to read that one into the record again this year. Click here for the proclamation.
 
In conclusion…. Be safe. Take good care of yourself.  Respect each other.  Help each other.  Seek out positivity. 
We will get through this together.   
As always, I am proud to be your mayor. 

 

5/21/20 - According to the numbers supplied by the county last night in Washington Township, we have had approximately 98 confirmed positive Covid-19 cases. We continue to update the confirmed cases number on the website a couple of times per week. The Town Website and Facebook pages contain a great deal of Covid-19 specific resources and data.
 
Town Hall continues to be closed to non-employees. However, we are waiting for the protective equipment ordered to arrive to ensure the safety to the public and employees. As soon as it arrives and is installed, Town Hall will start a gradual reopening. It will start by appointment only visits. All Town Buildings are currently and will continue to be professionally sanitized every week.
 
I am happy to announce that the Household Bulk Debris program will resume on June 1st. If you see the DPW crew out, please give them a wave to show your appreciation to them.
 
The Library, the Senior Center and all Senior activities, Municipal Court, Spring Rec Sports including the Summer Rec program remain closed. It was a tough decision for all involved after the fantastic year we had in 2019 to cancel the popular Summer Rec program for 2020. We could not adhere to the recommendations put out by the CDC. The program will be back better than ever next year.
 
All township parks and playgrounds are closed or suspended until further notice. I would like nothing better than to reopen them. However, social gatherings and contact sports are still not permitted under the Governors Executive order. The topic also came up in my conference call this week with my fellow Pascack Valley Mayors. Those that have reopened their parks are seeing many out of town people congregating and taking part in organized sports, causing their Police Departments to have to interact with people to break them up. When we are able to reopen the parks to organized sports, I am happy to announce that we will have two new basketball courts at Memorial and Gardner fields. That rehab project will take place in June.
 
The new drop box outside of Town Hall is working very well for depositing all tax payments, fees, correspondence, etc. for the Township departments.  Please do not leave cash in the mailbox. 
 
Just a reminder that the grace period for quarterly property taxes ends June 1st. Any taxes not paid by that date will incur interest from May 1st.
 
Once again, I cannot thank all of our first responders enough, both paid and volunteer, for stepping up during this crisis.
 
A great deal of our local merchants are up and running with revised hours and services. I have spoken to many of them and they appreciate your past, current, and future patronage.  Please give them your support whenever possible.    
 
As always but especially during these times, be safe and kind to each other. 
 


5/1/20 - I have consulted with the Township Police Department and Office of Emergency Management as well as the Mayor of Westwood and Superintendent of the Westwood Regional School District regarding the opening of the town parks. The decision was made to keep the parks closed until further notice. The school properties will remain closed also. The basis for the decision is as follows:

Governor Murphy's Executive Order #133 specifically prohibits and continues the closure of park facilities including picnic areas, playgrounds, exercise stations and equipment, pavilions, restrooms, and other buildings. It further continues the ban in parks of organized or contact activities or sports and gatherings of any kind. The townships parks differ from state and county parks in that, for the most part, they are specifically designed for the types of activities that are still banned by the governors directives. I realize this creates a continued inconvenience on some residents. However, I would like all to know this decision was made by placing the utmost priority on the continued health and safety of the Township of Washington and its residents.



4/14/20 - I apologize that you haven’t heard from me during the past two weeks. I had two deaths in the family during the past two weeks.

As your Mayor and fellow resident, I want to say that I am proud of our town and our citizens’ response to following the guidelines recommended by public health professionals. In Washington Township we have had approximately 72 confirmed positive Covid-19 cases.  Please keep them and their families in your thoughts and do your best to pay your respect to them by continuing to follow the social guidelines and keeping yourself, your family and the public safe. It is working. We will update the confirmed cases number on the website a couple of times per week. The Town Website and Facebook pages contain a great deal of Covid-19 specific resources and data.

Town Hall continues to be closed to non-employees. The staff in Town Hall are working in the office two days a week and remotely three days a week. The building is closed to all employees on Fridays to further provide the building with a 3-day Cooling Off Period.  All Town Buildings are being professionally sanitized every week.

The DMF staff are working staggered hours and shifts. 

I’m pleased to report that the Garden & Grass Collection program began last week as scheduled.  If you are normally scheduled for a Friday pick-up (Zone 5) – your pick-up day will now be on Thursdays. Due to variations in staffing, if the department doesn’t get to your residence on the assigned day, they will get there the next Town Hall business day.

The DMF yard, Household Bulk Debris program, the Library, the Senior Center and all Senior activities, Municipal Court, Spring Rec Sports, all township parks and playgrounds are closed or suspended until further notice. 

There is a new drop box outside of Town Hall for depositing all tax payments, fees, correspondence, etc for the Township departments.  Please do not leave cash in the mailbox. 

Our faithful first-response volunteers continue to impress me with their dedication to serve.  The Fire Department is still currently available 24 / 7 to handle their usual calls and the Ambulance Corp is still in service whenever possible.  If you should find yourself experiencing mild symptoms associated with Covid-19 please contact your healthcare provider First - before calling emergency services.  Medical practices have all necessary arrangements in place to treat you remotely without putting anyone at risk. 

On a happy note, the Easter Bunny was driven around town by the Fire Department this past Saturday April 11. I heard from many residents that it was very uplifting for the children and adults this year.

Many of our local merchants that fall within the Governor’s definition of essential business are up and running with revised hours and services.  They have taken precautions to keep both you and them safe and I’m certain they appreciate your patronage whenever possible.  There is a page on the Town Website listing the current status of many of our merchants. 

Finally, be safe and be kind to each other.  The human spirit always triumphs, and we will get through this.  I wish you all well. 



4/6/20 - This month’s report is all information relevant to the current Covid-19 Pandemic which is affecting our lives in an unprecedented way.  As your mayor and fellow resident, I want to say that I am proud of our town and our citizens’ response to following the guidelines recommended by public health professionals.  The sad news to report is that in Washington Township we have had approximately 51 confirmed positive Covid-19 cases and 5 deaths.  Please keep them and their families in your thoughts and do your best to pay your respect to them by continuing to follow the social guidelines and keeping yourself safe. 

As far as town services, here is the most current information:  The staff in Town Hall are working in the office two days a week and remotely three days a week.  This has been the routine for a couple of weeks now and it seems to be working well for everyone.  It’s keeping our employees safe and the town running effectively. As a reminder, the Town Hall building is closed to non-employees.  There is a new mail/drop box outside for depositing all tax payments, fees, correspondence, etc for the Township.  Please do not leave cash in the mail/drop box. 

All Town Buildings are being professionally sanitized every week. Town Hall is also closed to all employees on Fridays to further provide the building with a 3-day Cooling Off Period. 

Our faithful first-response volunteers continue to impress me with their dedication to serve.  The Fire Department is still currently available 24 / 7 to handle their usual calls and the Ambulance Corp is still in service whenever possible.  If you should find yourself experiencing mild symptoms associated with Covid-19 please contact your healthcare provider First - before calling emergency services.  Medical practices have all necessary arrangements in place to treat you remotely without putting anyone at risk. 

On a happy note, the Easter Bunny will be driven around town by the Fire Department this Saturday April 11 from 11am to 4pm.  While there won’t be any candy given away, there will be lots of distance greetings for people waving from their doorways. 

Onto DMF … The DMF staff are working staggered hours and shifts. It’s that time of year again and I’m pleased to report that the Garden & Grass Collection program began today as scheduled.  No excuses to not spend some quarantine time outside in your own yard getting some exercise and fresh air.   PLEASE NOTE that if you are normally scheduled for a Friday pick-up (Zone 5) – your pick-up day will now be on Thursdays.

Household Bulk Debris program has been POSTPONED until further notice due to staggered shifts and scheduling considerations. 
The DMF yard is closed until further notice. 

As is the Library, the Senior Center and all Senior activities, Municipal Court, Spring Rec Sports, All township parks and playgrounds. A reminder to everyone about social distancing yourself from others.  We all understand how trying a time this is and we are all missing our “normal” social contact.  Times like this do bring out the creativity in people and I encourage you to find new ways of interacting with friends and family that don’t violate social distancing recommendations.  Our police department would much rather come by your house to give your child a birthday shout-out than to have to ask you to disperse.  Please take what’s best for everyone into account and we will all get through this. 
 
Local businesses and merchants …….

Many of our local merchants that fall within the Governor’s definition of “essential” business are up and running with revised hours and services.  They have taken precautions to keep both you and them safe and I’m certain they appreciate your patronage whenever possible.  There is a page on the Town Website listing the current status of many of our merchants. 

Speaking of the Town Website – it contains a great deal of Covid-19 specific resources and data.  In addition to what I’ve mentioned, there are links to county and state websites where you can obtain accurate up-to-date information and notices. 

Finally, be safe and be kind.  The human spirit always triumphs, and we will get through this.  I wish you all well. 
 

 
3/25/20 -  I hope everyone is doing well during these trying times. I am proud to report that I have heard from many people since the start of this crisis, and I can say that our residents are truly the best! Many are reaching out to their neighbors in need and offering help in any way possible while maintaining their best CDC practices and keeping social distance. I’ve seen many examples of people helping people on some of the Facebook pages that our Town residents put information out on.
 
I’d like to take this opportunity to reassure the residents that myself and the administrator, as well as the heads of the emergency services, office of emergency management, and all Town employees are in constant communication with one another and our counterparts at the county and state level. All appropriate measures are being implemented to manage the township through this crisis. As of this moment we have 9 confirmed cases and unfortunately 1 fatality in Washington Township. While I am realistic that this number may continue to rise, I will hope and pray with all of you that it will be minimal and that those directly affected will be ok.
 
We will continue to update the Townships information sources. So please consult the townships website and Facebook pages for the most updated information. We are making use of the Swiftreach telephone, text and email service to disseminate more information. If you aren’t signed up for this service, please go to the townships website and sign up. 
 
You can reach out to me any time through my email address with any questions or concerns you may have.
 
Stay safe! Practice social distancing! Stay calm and remember we will get through this together!
 


 

3/13/20 - The safety of our residents is our top priority and a declaration of a National Emergency regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) is a matter that we are taking very seriously here in Washington Township.

We have been consistently meeting to educate our staff as well as to carefully receive, discuss and implement state mandated instructions.

The current state of emergency and health crisis facing our nation has led us to the following changes which went into effect at 4PM on March 13th and until further notice:

  • The municipal building is closed to the public. However, municipal functions will still be operational and borough employees will be available via phone or email.
  • All Township parks and fields will be closed to organized and non-organized sporting and private events.
  • All Child and Senior Recreation programs are cancelled until further notice.
  • The Township Library will be closed until further notice.
  • Please check with your House of Worship regarding potential cancelling of services.
  • For additional and updated information please visit the Township website at www.twpofwashington.us.


WHAT YOU CAN DO TO PROTECT YOURSELF, YOUR COMMUNITY AND ITS FIRST RESPONDERS FROM THE FURTHER SPREAD OF Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Coronavirus spreads through contact with respiratory droplets caused by coughing and sneezing. You should be using the same prevention methods as you would to avoid a common cold or the flu. The best ways to protect yourself include:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
  • Try to avoid touching your face.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Try to keep 6 feet away.
  • Stay home from school or work when you are sick.


Because it is still cold and flu season urgent care centers continue to see a significant number of patients with symptoms like fever, cough and body aches. Right now, if you’re feeling ill, it is still much more likely to be a cold or the flu rather than the coronavirus. As with the flu, most people who get coronavirus only experience mild viral symptoms such as fever, cough, muscle pain or weakness, and fatigue, and will experience a complete recovery.

WHAT YOU SHOULD DO IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING SYMPTOMS

If you are in respiratory distress, call 911. If you have a fever, cough, or other symptoms of respiratory infection, call Your primary care physician. Do not call for an emergency transport.

We encourage residents to remain calm, kind and mindful to others in need (check on your elderly neighbors) and use the following resources from the New Jersey and New York Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prepare and prevent the spread of infection.

NJ Department of Health:
• 24-hour public hotline: 1-800-222-1222
• Website: https://www.nj.gov/health/…/topics/covid2019_resources.shtml

NY Department of Health:
• Coronavirus Hotline: 1-888-364-3065
• Website: https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/coronavirus/

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
• Website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

Your cooperation at this time is imperative while we manage to get through this crisis together.

As always, I encourage you to reach out to my office and staff if you have any questions or concerns and remember that kindness and common sense go a long way. I wish all township residents the very best in health, a positive attitude and a strong sense of community as we get through this together!

Sincerely,
Mayor Peter Calamari
mayor@twpofwashington.us