January 2023 Mayor’s Annual Address
New Providence is rock solid and doing great! Despite all the many challenges faced this year including imposed state and federal mandates, supply chain issues, and record inflation, we have maintained our AAA bond rating, our borough finances are rock solid, and we achieved a record number of accomplishments this year. This would not have been possible without our incredible team most notably our dedicated Borough Council Members, our new CFO Jim Testa and our finance committee, our incredible Borough Administrator Bernadette Cuccaro and Borough Clerk Wendi Barry, and all our staff, boards, committees, and volunteers. We are a rock solid team here in New Providence.
Our CFO Jim Testa and our team has been on top of our all our fiscals matters, keeping us on track and living within our means. Even though many predict tough times ahead, with our stellar 5 year forecasting plan and meticulous budgeting, we are confident in our continued sound and stable financial footing.
Public safety is our first and most important priority. Our volunteer fire and rescue squad put in countless hours not only responding to emergency situations, but also continually training and maintaining equipment to serve our residents 24/7. They are all to be commended and thanked for their selfless service to our community. They are always looking for more volunteers if you are ready and able to serve, we need you.
We bid our beloved Chief Theresa Gazaway farewell on her retirement this year. We thank her for her many years of dedicated loyal good service to our community, and wish her well on all her future endeavors. We welcomed with open arms our new Chief Dan Henn, who has hit the ground running. We are very proud that our Police Department has been recently re-accredited for a 6th time. We are only one of two police departments in the entire state out of 565 communities that have earned this distinction and honor. This speaks volumes about the professionalism and integrity of our Police Department. We thank them for their good service to New Providence.
Last year, we placed the highest priority on traffic and pedestrian safety. Our Traffic Bureau Coordinator, Sergeant Diamond, and our Traffic Bureau worked tirelessly on plans, met with residents, held citizen listening sessions, completed traffic studies, and began implementation of short term projects including:
- Installation of new rapid flashers at the intersections of Balcom and Spring, and at South and Marion.
- Intersection improvements at Central and Valentine.
- Replacing school zone speed limit signage at Salt Brook School.
- Installation of speed tables at Magnolia and at Fairview.
- Traffic pattern changes at NPHS/MS.
- Upgraded pedestrian flashers throughout the borough.
- Reduced speed limits on heavily traveled roads.
On January 10th, we are going to have a town wide traffic and safety re-evalutation meeting to go over what has been done, what projects we are looking to do in the near future, and target our long term plans. Thank you to the New Providence Traffic Bureau for their hard work on this and to everyone who participated, contributed, and helped with this project. We look forward to an even safer New Providence in 2023.
Our Building Department has been working diligently with our planners, engineers, and code officials to amend, upgrade, and change many of our ordinances to meet state codes. Most notably, amending ordinance chapter 225 of the Code of the Borough of New Providence now requiring milling and paving of the entire pavement surface from edge to edge or curb to curb, the full length of the excavated trench where more than 20% of the existing surface has been disturbed. Keith Lynch, Director of our Building Department, along with our planning board and with our Council, has done an outstanding job codifying our zoning ordinances throughout the borough. We thank them for their hard work on this. We also installed three brand new pedestrian bridges at Douglas Street, Mee Lane, and the long awaited Commerce Street.
We thank our DPW for maintaining our 42 miles of borough roadway. This year they also milled and paved 12 roads in New Providence, and made improvements to our waste water treatment plant. DPW is always out and about, doing numerous projects and improvements on all our borough facilities. They are always hard at work no matter the element, crisis, or extreme weather. We also thank all our residents for their patience and understanding while important infrastructure work and improvements continue throughout the borough.
We are working hard on borough communications this year too. We were finally at long last able to contract for a new borough website to help make borough information, communication and forms/documents more readily and easily available, and to help improve user friendliness. We are continually working to improve our public information communications to help keep everyone as up to date with correct and current information as possible. Thank you to our Borough Council Communication Team for their hard work on this. “Chat with the Mayor” will continue on the first Fridays of every month at Borough Hall in the Lincoln Meeting from 6:30pm-8pm. As always, residents can call borough hall at any time to make an appointment to meet with me, or can contact me directly. We are here to serve you.
Our Community Activities Department, directed by Allison Smith, has had an incredible year. There was an increase in enrollment across all youth, adult, and senior recreation programs and they worked with other community groups to plan, promote, and run events, which were highly attended and enjoyed by all. Special projects this year included the long awaited re-opening of the DeCorso Center, a new gazebo at Veterans Park, creation of a Yoga/Dance Studio on the lower level of the Municipal Center, continued upgrades to all of our parks and playgrounds, and plans for a brand new Cricket Pitch at Warner Field, which we are all very excited about! The Community Activities Department strives to offer safe and affordable programs for all our residents. Each year they provide classes, camps, and special events while also looking for ways to safely recreate, have fun, and engage with the community. We thank them for their dedicated good work!
One of the many reasons New Providence is so successful, and functions so well, is because we all work together as a family. Every borough department helps each other.
All of this would not be possible without our fabulous Borough Administrator, Bernadette Cuccaro, who pulls everything and everyone together. She plans weekly department head meetings to keep all of our departments informed and in sync with each other, and is continuously looking for and implementing improvements to help serve our community better. Our experienced and dedicated employees are just incredible, work well together, and are continually making challenging situations flow and work more easily. We are truly blessed and grateful to have such incredible staff. We thank them all.
Our dedicated and diligent Borough Council works tirelessly supporting all the projects, initiatives, and activities in our community, always putting New Providence first. Our Borough Council always takes a long term, common sense, approach with due diligence to every task and situation that arises, without acting impulsively. This speaks volumes to our stability, wise decisions, and our ability to accomplish so much in our community. We all work incredibly well together. We are a great team completely focused on our community, and I am personally so incredibly thankful for each and every one. Mayor and Council are only as good and effective as the people around us, and here in New Providence we have the best! That being said, we wholeheartedly thank Councilman Rob Munoz for his many years of dedicated and loyal good service to our community. Councilman Munoz has served in many capacities, most notably as Councilman for twelve good years. His knowledge, experience, and advice has been invaluable and he will be very sorely missed. We thank him for his good service and wish him well in all his future endeavors knowing that he made a true difference in our community. We congratulate Councilwoman Diane Bilicska on her formal election to Borough Council. She is an invaluable member of the team. We also warmly welcome newly elected Councilman Alex Kogan who brings extensive expertise to the table, New Providence is so fortunate for this incredible team.
We are also so grateful to our very generous business community, our many committees and organizations, our Board of Education, and especially all of our hard working volunteers. Volunteers are the fabric of small town living and the backbone of our community. Without generous donors and dedicated volunteers who continually give selflessly of their time, talent, expertise and support, often thanklessly, we could not provide or do all that we do. Thank you!
Great communities are built and maintained on good governance and hometown pride and spirit that foster volunteerism and generate tremendous community support and contributions.That is what we have built here together in New Providence and is one of the many reasons why our community is so rock solid. Thank you all for your continued commitment to making New Providence the wonderful place that it is. We are Pioneer Strong!
Thank you for allowing me this great honor of continuing to serve you as Mayor of our great community. Our past years together have been stellar for New Providence. We have made great strides and accomplished so many great things together. We are a growing and evolving community with a proud tradition of excellence that has been my distinct honor and privilege to serve, uphold, and represent. Thank you for your continued faith in me, and in this Council, and for all your continued support. Thank you to my wife and family, friends, and neighbors, and to all the families, and friends of all who serve. It is a team effort. Without their support, patience, and sacrifice, we would not be able to serve our community in the capacity we do, so on behalf of all of us here, we thank you.
May God continue to bless New Providence and all of you. Happy New Year!
~ Mayor Al Morgan