Mayor & Council of New Providence, NJ
Mayor J. Brooke Hern
Welcome to the 2013 re-organization meeting of the New Providence Borough Council.
As we begin, I want to recognize the long and distinguished service of Jimmy Cucco, who tonight has concluded more than three decades as a Councilman. His dedication, hard work, and depth of experience have been invaluable to this governing body, and he will be missed. On behalf of the Borough of New Providence, I thank Jimmy Cucco for giving so much of his time and energy, and I ask each of you to join me in expressing our gratitude.
Tonight we open a new session of our Borough Council with sound reasons for having great optimism about the future of New Providence. We are in the midst of substantial progress being made on important programs and policies that will ultimately save tax dollars, improve services, and strengthen our quality of life.
Our progress is the result of a collective effort on the part of our elected officials, local businesses, Borough employees and many volunteers. It is the result of careful analysis, community involvement, transparency in our deliberations, open debate, sometimes disagreement, but always consensus.
Two years ago, following the defeat of the Oakwood Park referendum, we began to develop a plan for improving the conditions of our athletic fields -- which have been worn down by years of overuse. Both sides of the Oakwood Park debate came together behind the common goal that we all shared all along. And today, we have plan that will begin this spring, with substantial improvements to baseball and soccer fields at Hillview on Central Avenue.
Our fields are overused, and we are addressing that, not by focusing on a single-field, but by developing a town-wide program that relies upon improvements at several fields. The first stage of field improvements was developed in consultation with nearby residents and the sports organizations that use Hillview field. And each subsequent stage at field improvements throughout the Borough will be developed and implemented with the same high-level of community involvement.
We've also made substantial progress in the area of shared services. Days ago, I signed an agreement that creates a joint meeting with the City of Summit to share a new, state-of-the-art, emergency dispatch center, which will be located here in Borough Hall. Funded with the help of $1.7 million in federal grant money, the dispatch center will meet all new requirements imposed on the Borough, and will increase safety and effectiveness in the dispatch of police, fire, and Rescue Squad. And as owners of this new dispatch center – which is expected to become operational this year – we will also have the capacity to become a service provider to other towns, and thereby further reduce costs for taxpayers in New Providence.
Substantial progress has also been made in the effort to strengthen our local economy. A year ago, following voter approval of a referendum to issue consumption liquor licenses in the Borough, we began the work of carefully developing an ordinance that now governs the type and operation of restaurants that will be able to serve alcohol.
We aggressively marketed the first of four licenses which will go out to bid this month, and our efforts have generated considerable interest by reputable restaurateurs who have already experienced great success in other communities. Bringing quality restaurants to our town will put more people on our sidewalks, increase business for everyone, and lift our local economy to new heights.
Beyond these significant milestones we've achieved on our way to these major accomplishments, we continue to strive for new efficiencies in the way our local government delivers essential services. From new found savings in the collection of recycling, to new found revenue by contracting with Summit to provide staff for their sewerage treatment facilities, we continue in our effort to provide high-quality services at the lowest possible cost.
Our success is in doing so, is due in large part to the hard work of the employees and volunteers who serve New Providence. And while their efforts are quietly undertaken on a daily basis, their dedication came into clear view as they jumped into action to respond to Sandy and its aftermath.
The night of storm, our police officers, fire department and rescue squad risked their own safety to ensure that residents remained safe. In the weeks that followed, our emergency personnel and countless volunteers worked tireless to help their fellow residents. Thanks to a new emergency generator that powers Borough Hall and the rescue squad headquarters, employees and volunteers were able to staff a shelter and warming station around the clock, that served the needs of hundreds upon hundreds men, women and children.
Time and again, we have seen that the vitality of our town is a product of the people who serve it. And that's why New Providence is a great community.
As always, this next year will bring many challenges – some of which we cannot now foresee.
But we are prepared.
We are prepared to aggressively tackle our next budget, to make sure that we can deliver services and hold down property taxes.
We are prepared to improve conditions on playing fields throughout the Borough.
We are prepared to move forward with new and creative shared-services programs, including our new emergency dispatch center.
We are prepared to issue our first consumption liquor license and bring new businesses to our town.
And we are prepared for the unexpected, because we've made certain that our police, fire and rescue squad are well-trained, and well-equipped to respond when needed.
Once again, I'm proud to report that this is a responsive Borough government, and that the decisions we make reflect the values and vision we share as a community.
As I've said before, I want every employee and every volunteer to know, that you are appreciated. And that it's because of your collective effort, New Providence is, today, poised to realize its full potential as a thriving community.
I still believe that our best days lie ahead. And I hope that each of you to join with me to make New Providence even better than it is today.
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