Learn More About Clifton's New Satellite Office - Opening in Botany this Spring
Clifton City Manager, Nick Villano, announced on Facebook the opening of a new Satellite Office in Botany this spring. The office will host a Grand Opening on Parker Avenue in the heart of Botany on April 8th.
The retail storefront space will host a variety of services for Clifton residents including health screenings from the Health Department and Community Policing through the Clifton Police Department.
In explaining the history of how the project came about, Clifton Health Officer, John Biegel, shared they "began the project 4-5 years ago, but it was delayed by the pandemic. The idea evolved as part of a community health assessment done by the Health Department required for pursuit of national accreditation." The health assessment was done in 2018 and took about a year to complete. If the department receives the national accreditation, they will be among just a handful of NJ Health Departments that have received it; their application is due this September and results are expected by early 2023.
Data about the Clifton community was collected by the Health Department in an extensive process from several sources, including through a Community Voice Survey, the NJ State Health Assessment and the City Health Dashboard that compares Clifton to cities across the US. The Health Department staff also organized focus groups with a professional consultant that targeted the identified underserved communities in Botany and interviewed community leaders including from the Council, School District, and other community organizations. A local public health systems assessment was done in conjunction that focused on environmental, pedestrian, and nutritional audits in addition to police department pedestrian safety data.
The major findings from this assessment revealed the 07011 neighborhoods were disproportionately underserved and showed poor health outcomes. Biegel explained, “this was done prior to the pandemic, and the pandemic further illustrated the findings as these neighborhoods had higher case numbers of Covid-19.” The complete Health Assessment can be viewed on the city website here.
As a result, a Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) was created with 3 major priority issues to address: obesity, pedestrian and neighborhood safety and maternal and infant health. The CHIP is a citywide community health improvement process led by the Health Department in partnership with the Steps to a Healthier Clifton Coalition.
After the assessment completion, the Health Department requested the Satellite Office to help achieve their primary outreach goals; the plan was approved by the City Council prior to the pandemic. The Satellite Office is intended to address the needs of residents who don’t have access to vehicles or other transportation as well as the city at-large and will provide a welcoming environment.
The Health Department will work in partnership with partners Hackensack Meridian Hospital, The Power of One and several others to provide preventive health services including:
- Monthly health screenings including glucose & blood pressure
- Flu clinics and childhood immunizations
- Skin cancer and podiatry screenings
- Maternal health services, education and resources
The Health Department has also applied for a County Health grant to test consumer products for lead to prevent childhood lead poisoning, which they will learn the results of by year’s end. Mental health services will also be provided for the homeless community at this location, but no homeless shelter is planned. All services will be provided through existing Health Department staff, Biegel added, “the only additional cost is the $3K monthly rent for the space.”
The Clifton Police Department will also use the space for community policing. Councilman Gibson shared on social media that, "…Our Community Policing Officers will interact with business owners and address concerns and issues within the Botany community. This is a big step for the city and for the people of Botany who need this service.”
Lt. Robert Bracken explained that “Clifton’s Community Policing Division was brought back about 2 years ago and is currently a separate division with 1 Sergeant and 6 Officers. Previously, the department had these units but they were often grant funded and usually cut after funding ran out.” According to the standards set by COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) from the US DOJ, community policing is a philosophy used to “encourage engagement with the community through three components, community partnerships, organizational transformation and problem solving to proactively address the conditions that give rise to public safety issues.”
Bracken explained the intent of the program is to “get out of the police car and speak to the residents.”
Bracken continued, “Community Policing at the Satellite Office will handle outreach, be the face of the organization in the community and address neighborhood and business owner complaints.” They will also assist the Health Department with issues related to the homeless population. He mentioned that in years past these officers were on bicycles in neighborhoods, and there are discussions to potentially bring the bikes back.
Councilwoman Lauren Murphy showed enthusiasm for the project saying “I’ve been engaged with this since the beginning and am confident it will be a success; we have dedicated employees over seeing it.”
Mayor Anzaldi agreed to its importance, adding, “I am glad to see that we’re going to have the satellite office for our community...it is always a great idea to bring government to the people, especially those who might not have transportation.”
City Manager Villano indicated more information will follow as the grand opening approaches.