Elmwood Park Borough Council’s recent meeting on August 17, 2023, underscored the importance of community service, particularly the noteworthy contributions of the organization ‘Strangers Helping Strangers’, alongside significant legislative discussions.
The meeting kicked off with an introduction of the altruistic organization by Mayor Robert Colletti. ‘Strangers Helping Strangers’ has not only been instrumental in distributing food every Friday for three years irrespective of weather but has also run donation drives for global causes like Ukraine and Syria, school supply distributions, and more.
Chris, a leader in the group, celebrated numerous volunteers for their commitment. Volunteers, including the likes of Hilda Aradi, Anna Passy, Linda Smith, and Steve and Kathleen Backer, were lauded for their efforts. Chris emphasized the young volunteers’ involvement, with many hailed from surrounding communities beyond Elmwood Park.
One particularly heartfelt testimony came from Isabella Balusteri, who shared her involvement with the organization from its inception. She recounted Chris’s dedication, narrating an anecdote of Chris assisting her in retrieving a lost phone in another town. Following this, Mayor Colletti bestowed upon Chris a Community Service Award, solidifying the organization’s invaluable role in the community.
Parallel to these commendations, Councilwoman Tanisha Dennis celebrated Sierra Palmer, a young Elmwood Park native, for her commitment and successful completion of an apprenticeship program.
The legislative agenda included a focus on housing and infrastructural developments. One ordinance highlighted the need for storm and sanitary sewer improvements at Orchard Street, requiring an additional $130,000 due to unforeseen utility challenges. Another discussed a financial bolstering of $850,000 for synthetic turf athletic fields at Borough Park. The pressing need to align with state requirements on affordable housing led to a discussion on mandatory development fees.
Moreover, the meeting addressed the sensitive issue of cannabis licensing. Jeffrey Freitag’s inquiry on the number of licenses being issued led to an intricate discussion on zoning restrictions and the need to ensure legal conformity. Concerns were raised about a Zoom meeting held by the Cannabis board without prior advertisement, which Mayor Colletti promised to address.