Joining the Green Team
Sustainable Jersey Green Teams leverage the skills and expertise of team members to develop plans, implement programs, and assist with educational opportunities that support the creation of a sustainable community. Westwood's Green Team is the catalyst for creating an understanding of what sustainability means in our community and aims to allow residents from all community perspectives to reach out and become involved in the Borough's efforts. Members would be able to take their issues from the personal to the community level where individual concerns can be shared, tempered with additional information, and made part of a larger vision for the future of Westwood. The Green Team is responsible for completing various actions per Sustainable Jersey standards that will lead to the recertification of Westwood as a sustainable community.
Westwood's Green Team has been comprised primarily of Borough employees. In 2017 the Borough intends to expand the membership of its Green Team to include residents, business owners, and students. Committed individuals who are interested in making the community more sustainable are encouraged to join our Green Team today!
Highlights & Accomplishments of 2016's Green Team
Establishing a Creative Team
A Creative Team for the Borough of Westwood was officially established by Resolution Number 16-120. This is the first step of many in capturing all the arts, music, and film events Westwood hosts by promoting municipal-wide creative events. The creative Team serves as an "umbrella" organization to connect the many existing programs that encourage arts involvement, such as the Home for the Holidays Parade, Westwood Has heART Art Show, The Summer Concert Series, Movies in the Park, Westwood Pride Day, Taste of Westwood, Summer Festival, and many more.
Climate Adaptation: Flooding Risk
Westwood has a history of flooding along the Pascack and Musquapsink Brooks. The Borough commissioned its engineering firm to do a study on the source of the flooding in Westwood. Mayor Birkner, who has been intimately involved with flooding issues during his first two terms of office, presented a "Flooding 101" course for the newer members of the Council and Borough Administrator to bring them up to speed on the impact that flooding has had and will continue to have on the Borough. Five houses were purchased between 2012-2014 with FEMA/Green Acres funds, and a sixth was purchased in 2016 with Green Acres/Bergen County Open Space Trust Fund money.
Westwood's Community Garden was established in 2012 and continues to be a thrive. Located in Westvale Park next to the dog park, the garden is open to residents of the Borough to grow fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers. The Borough provides a water supply from a solar powered water generator, coffee grounds for composting, and other compost bins. Gardeners are encouraged to visit their plots two or three times a week to tend to their plants, attend scheduled meetings to connect with other gardeners, and volunteer for garden jobs and committees. A "Master Gardener" position was established and appointed by the Governing Body in 2016 to oversee the garden.
The annual Farmer's Market was established in 2013 by the Environmental Committee, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Governing Body. Each year, many local vendors have special events, live music, guest chefs, and an array of fresh produce, meats, baked goods, homemade soaps, jewelry, and more. Proceeds from the Farmer's Market will benefit the Westwood Chamber of Commerce Fund in Memory of Elizabeth Fasciano, which provides scholarships for local students. The event was originally held in the parking lot adjacent to Borough Hall, but has moved to the parking lot at Hackensack University Medical Center at Pascack Valley as the number of vendors has grown over the years.
Effective Parking Management
There are several municipal parking lots and designated street parking throughout the Borough, with metered parking spaces offering 2-, 3-, or 9-hour parking to commuters, customers of businesses downtown, or other visitors of the Borough. A parking plan for employees of businesses in Downtown Westwood was established offering a year-long hang tag and reduced meter rates. Master Meters were installed in three of the municipal lots for ease of access.
Prescription Drug Safety & Disposal
The program began as a semi-annual drop-off event, and has now evolved into an officially authorized "Project Medicine Drop" which is run through the New Jersey Department of Consumer Affairs. A prescription drug drop-off box is located in the office of the Westwood Police Department, and collects an average of 25 pounds of medication per month. Project Medicine Drop provides the opportunity for residents to discard unused prescription medications any day of the year. Westwood's police officials maintain custody of the deposited drugs and dispose of them according to normal protocol for the destruction of controlled dangerous substances. They also report the quantity of discarded drugs to the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs on a quarterly basis.
Historic Preservation Element
The Historic Preservation Commission is dedicated to preserving the historic legacy of the Borough of Westwood by designating historic buildings, landscapes, and structures. These designations limit the ability of property owners to alter the structures in such a way that may obstruct its historic value and character. The Historic Preservation Element Master Plan was adopted in April 2007.
Tree Maintenance & Tree Planting
The Borough's Shade Tree Committee works with the Department of Public Works in determining when a tree requires pruning or should be removed. The Borough retains an arborist to provide professional guidance on the condition of trees. Tree maintenance requests by residents are tracked electronically by the DPW and are investigated in a timely manner. DPW employees take note of tree issues while engaged in other work activities and call them in for further investigation and action. Every year, the Borough of Westwood's Shade Tree Committee compiles a list of recommended locations for the planting of trees. There are always enough trees to plant some in the various parks as replacements for dying trees or new trees to add greenery to the parks. The DPW tracks where trees are planted, and also maintains a list throughout the year of those who would like to have a tree the next time an order is placed. After planting trees, the DPW maintains them on an ongoing basis that is determined by weather.
Westwood's Environmental Committee hosted a Rain Garden Planting event in June 2017 on the front lawn of the Borough Hall. A rain garden is a shallow depression that is designed to capture rainwater runoff from impervious surfaces. There are many ecological benefits of rain gardens including reduced flooding in certain instances, reduced pollutant loading to our waterways and providing additional habitat for animals, especially critical pollinators such as butterflies and bees. This project was made possible through partnerships with Rutgers University's Water Resource Program and Bergen SWAN- Save the Watershed Action Network.
Animals in the Community
Westwood has many events and programs focused towards the animals in our community. There is an annual Free Rabies Clinic, where anti-rabies vaccinations are available for dogs and cats, each year in the train station which is open to any resident of New Jersey. The "Westwoof" Dog Park is located in Westvale Park and offers separate space for large and small dogs. There is also a pet food pantry located inside of Borough Hall where non-perishable pet food of any kind can be donated.