State of the Borough 2015
Council President, members of the Council, honored dignitaries, residents and friends.
Last year a study named us number four in the most boring towns in New Jersey. They obviously never lived or visited Hawthorne. If they did, they would realize that we are a close-knit, family-oriented community with old fashioned small town values. Hawthorne has a tremendous volunteer spirit, whether it by volunteer firemen or volunteer youth sport coaches, we fill whatever void that confronts us. We rally for ill or fallen members of our community, raising money, providing meals or clothing for people in need. We love to argue; in Hawthorne we would fight over free cheese - who gets the middle or why do I get an end. However, there is an underlying feeling of care and compassion.
That care and compassion was put to the test last year with the horrible incident at our farmers market. The senseless death of Donna Wine shook this community. While most didn’t know her, we grieved for her and her family. We came together as one in a candlelight vigil to begin the healing process. As we were in the process of healing, two tragic deaths within an hour rocked this Borough on Columbus Day. Our hearts again went out to both families, and again we grieved. This year we have lost many important people and neighbors in Hawthorne, and we take some solace in knowing that this is the circle of life, births and deaths. Time and tide wait for no man.
Hawthorne, in my opinion, has the best police department in the State of New Jersey. They are professional and caring. A police officer is at every emergency call, usually the first on the scene, before the ambulance or the fire truck; the police do the immediate triage. They are the ones that investigate the deaths and crimes. They make the notifications when there is bad news to deliver. They are the Borough’s first defense and its last. They are well educated and know the Borough and the community. Most live in Hawthorne. Their children go to school here and they can be found at our ball fields, movie theater, and restaurants. I am proud to be their Mayor, and I support them whole heartedly.
I am also as proud of our volunteer fire department. Through their hard work we have reached the highest rating a borough can receive from the ISO. Now you may not think that this accomplishment affects you, but it does. That rating reflects how an insurance company determines the rate of your fire insurance. Whenever the alarm bells ring they respond leaving family behind, sometimes with dinner on the table or from a warm bed to protect our community. Last year we replaced the engine for Fire Company 1, and will continue our refurbishing and replacement schedule. They and our Volunteer Ambulance Corps, who devote countless hours providing top quality care to our community, deserves your thanks and support. I am working with the Ambulance Corps to find solutions to the daytime coverage problems that plague all of North Jersey. There are times when a paid service will respond to your call. They are not our first choice, but they are the nearest and closest ambulance available when our volunteers can’t respond.
Perhaps our most unheralded department is the Department of Public Works. They make sure our water supply is drinkable and that our sewers are working. They clean the leaves we rake to the street and plow the snow. They repair water mains in freezing cold and blistering heat. They fill the potholes and maintain our ball fields, pool and recycling center. This year we will be using a new brine system to pretreat roads; this should make for safer driving conditions and less accumulation of ice on the roads.
That brings me to the people who you have most contact with, our municipal building staff. From our Borough Clerk, Treasury Office, Building Department, DPW Administration office, Court staff or Health Department, we strive to make your visit as pleasant as possible. Normally you are coming with a problem or a complaint or to pay taxes. Often you’re not the happiest campers in the best of moods. We try to be helpful and understanding. Please understand that the person collecting your taxes didn’t set them. They weren’t the ones that didn’t pick up your garbage or recycling, or caused you to get a violation. They are your neighbors trying to help you or answer your questions. If for any reasons you're unhappy with them, my door is open, talk to me.
We continue to work on economic development. Attracting new businesses and working with developers on approved projects will continue to be a top priority. I will ask the Council to authorize a re-examination of our Master Plan to ensure that we continue to grow while still preserving our core values and small-town feel.
I’ve saved the people on the dais for last. Many people used to think that this form of government couldn’t work. For years Mayors and Council fought and bickered. There was grandstanding and obstruction. I believe that in the last six years we proved that this government can work. The Mayor and Council works together to efficiently manage the Borough’s finances, quality of life issues, and its health and safety. Occasionally we disagree, but in the end we all want what’s best for Hawthorne. This year we had an increase in our bond rating. This will save us money when we go to market to fund our capital projects. We are thriving within the cap and are always searching for responsible ways to save you money. I am proud to call every one of them my friend. Together we have done some great things for Hawthorne, and I am sure we will continue to do so.
Richard Goldberg, Mayor