January 2017 Mayor’s Annual Address
New Providence has become synonymous with the word “COMMUNITY”. Community is what we are all about. Neighbors helping neighbors. Residents actively participating in numerous inclusive community events, activities, and drives, giving generously of their time and resource through our many community organizations including CSA, Lions, the New Providence Education and Athletic Foundations, Seniors, the Diversity Committee, the Community Activities Department, and our Scouts among others, all helping and working together to improve the quality of life for all. The Pioneer Spirit lives on!
Volunteers are the backbone of a community, and our signature trademark here in New Providence is VOLUNTEERISM. In 2016, our volunteer participation numbers soared to record highs. Volunteer commitment and dedication were an integral part of all of our community achievements this year. Many new, inviting, and engaging events and activities were added to the borough this year, and would not have even been possible without our dedicated volunteers. It is both heartwarming and gratifying to see such continued outpouring of generosity, kindness, inclusivity, and unity.
This year especially, we honor those who epitomize what it means to give and to give selflessly. We honor Jim Cucco, our longtime Borough Council President. Nick Perillo, our longtime Commander of our VFW Post 190, and Marie McNally, Chair of our Municipal Alliance, all of whom were so sadly taken from us this year. We thank them for their service. We honor them, their good work, and their selfless contributions, by carrying on their leadership, their dedication, and their love for community. They continue to live on through us and through our good work.
Volunteers tirelessly serve on our many boards, committees, and organizations throughout the borough putting much time and effort into their respective areas and do a fantastic job making New Providence a better place to live. This year our Diversity Committee added two new cultural events to their ever-growing repertoire of inclusive community building programs. The Sustainability Committee received the Bronze Level Award from the State of New Jersey for their good work. They also worked jointly with our police department to map out safe pedestrian walkways for us, and, they formulated usage guidelines for our brand new community garden, which opened this past summer near the tennis courts and community pool.
This year our Public Art Committee brought new culture and interest to our borough with beautiful new sculptures introduced around our community, including here in Centennial Park, our library, at our elementary schools, and most recently by Veterans Park, and all done through very generous donations, contributions, and fundraising. Thank you.
And finally, our Historical Society celebrated their 50-year Golden Jubilee by hosting an old fashion ice cream social and burying a time capsule on the grounds of the Salt Box Museum to be opened in 2066.
Many residents in our borough may not realize that our Fire Department and our Rescue Squad are both completely staffed by volunteers. They spend countless hours training, preparing, up keeping equipment, and responding to emergency calls. And, you will always find them at every town event. This year, Santa was seen around town on our brand new fire truck. Thank you for your service and for keeping us safe.
Our business community also had a great year, opening many new businesses, including Lantern Hill whose residents we welcome with open arms and look forward to meeting around town. Our business community is a vital part of our New Providence family, not only contributing to our economic development and growth, but also to the very fabric of our community through their generous donations, contributions, and partnerships. The business community also very generously hosts many of our community events including our wonderful street fair, summer concerts, Independence Day events, downtown trick-or- treating, farmer’s market, and our borough holiday party. This year they added a new and exciting scarecrow contest this past fall to the delight of our residents. Our commitment to our business partners is unwavering. We look forward to further enhancing our already strong relationship, and thank them for their very generous contributions.
This year, our Police Department built a new conference room for citizen privacy, and had a new back up generator installed. Patrol officers were also given body cameras. The police have been working extensively on downtown parking and pedestrian safety. Community relations have also been a top priority with new programs and special events including “Coffee with a Cop”, “National Night Out”, the “New Providence Car Show”, New Providence’s first official “Trunk or Treat,” which they cohosted with the Sharing Network and several of our dedicated volunteers, a week long junior police academy summer program for kids (which everyone involved loved), and those fabulous “Hometown Heroes” banners we all enjoyed around town this past Veterans Day. We are also very proud to announce that our police department was re-accredited this year by the New Jersey Police Chiefs Association. Congratulations and thank you for your service.
The Community Activities Department is continually upgrading and creating new programs for all ages. Jaycee Park and the Community Pool basketball courts were completed as well as the Lincoln Field Complex. Our Oakwood Park project is well underway with final completion slated for early spring.
Public Works completed the Murray Hill train lot paving as well as many other roadways throughout the borough. They are also continuing sewer upgrades, and maintaining our buildings and grounds. This year we de-snagged fallen trees in the Passaic River and still had time to complete the Community Garden installation with Eagle Scout Jonathan Romeo. DPW is our unsung hero making our borough look great and are always there to help set up, install, and dig us out. This past winter, after a 32-inch blizzard, our DPW worked around the clock so that we had clear roads the next morning. (And not to brag, but we were the only community plowed out that morning). Thank you DPW for your continued good work.
Our borough is financially sound. The council and administration are always looking to spend less and produce more. It is not an easy task, or one any of us take lightly. Property and equipment maintenance and new needs arise constantly, yet we have always managed to keep our tax increase under the 2% cap. We work tirelessly to help make New Providence a better place for all of us. I just want to take this moment to thank our council, our administration, and all of our staff and employees for their continued service and good work for our community, for their time, their effort, and their expertise from which we all truly benefit. Thank you.
This year, I plan to institute a new community forum for our residents called “Chat with the Mayor”. This will be an informal ‘off the record’ time with me for free flowing conversation, asking of questions, and discussing thoughts, ideas, and concerns that matter to you. This year we will also continue doing the Mayor’s Forums on our local channels to help continue to inform and showcase many of our wonderful community organizations and borough departments. The Mayor’s Forum programs are posted on our borough website.
It has truly been a great year for New Providence. Thank you for your contributions and for your continued commitment to making New Providence a wonderful community. I look forward to working with you and serving you this upcoming year. May God continue to bless New Providence and all of you.
Happy New Year!
~ Mayor Al Morgan