State of the Borough 2016
I think as we grow older the years pass by more quickly. It seems it was just yesterday that I delivered my 2015 State of the Borough Address. I am beginning my 19th year as an elected official, and it has been 7 plus years as your Mayor. I am just as eager to do the people’s business as I was when I was first sworn in as a newly elected councilman.
I want to offer my congratulations to the four ward councilmen on their reelection. I look forward to a continued working relationship with you all.
I could spend this entire speech on what is a major problem plaguing North Jersey. That is heroin. I am not naïve enough to believe that Hawthorne’s issue is with people just driving through with heroin in their cars. Our court, as most in this State, is spending a great deal of time on heroin and heroin abuse. This is the new plague. It is cheap and easy to find. It knows no age, color, religion or socioeconomic barrier. The police and our courts will continue to aggressively deal with this problem. I was the first chairman of United Prevention in Passaic County, as well as the last chairman of the Passaic County Underage Drinking Coalition which became United for Prevention. Drug abuse and awareness and prevention has always been a priority for me. Too many good people have gone down this rabbit hole.
We have made some great strides in vehicular safety this past year concluding our grant work for the gates at our railroad crossings and working with the County for a traffic light at Goffle, Rock and Braen Avenues. We have done a large amount of speed and traffic studies to help better understand complaints about speeding and parking issues. We have purchased truck scales to help enforce the many overweight trucks that travel through this Borough. We try to respond to quality of life issues quickly and efficiently. You may not always get the resolution you seek, but we take all issues seriously.
We had some great public events this year. Hawthorne Day was bigger and better this year and promises to be even more fun in 2016. This year’s 9-11 observance was extremely moving with former NYC Police Commissioner Bernard Kerick sharing his memories from Ground Zero. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the attacks, and we have invited assembly minority leader John Bramnick to share his remembrances of that day. We honored veterans and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice with a great Memorial Day parade, and Veterans and Memorial Day services at Borough Hall. Our Fallen Hero program continues this year; almost 1/3 of the names on our monument have been honored by a street corner name, and we will not stop until all are honored. In the spring our newly constructed band shell will start its inaugural season. Michael Pasquale and his committee promise a great first year of concerts and events.
As far as development, we have some great projects waiting to begin construction. My office has had a long history of working with developers who want to bring positive projects to Hawthorne. We look for projects that not only benefit the developer but the Borough as well. As you know there was a project recently rejected by the Zoning Board. This project tried to rezone an area that just recently the Council redefined. The developer has sued the Borough trying to stop or delay any major development in Hawthorne. The developer tried to make this a political fight instead of a planning and zoning issue. In spite of this, I have already reached out to this developer to discuss what other project may better fit this area.
I am expanding the responsibilities of my Economic Development Committee. I am asking them to help new business through the entire process from application process through permits for signs and alterations after approvals. This should be a great help to first-time business owners.
Many of my supporters felt I should use this opportunity to remind you of our fiscal success, thriving within the 2% cap, and our improved bond rating. I don’t need to remind you because it is what you have come to expect from us. We will have budget challenges this year. This year’s budget has a large number of unknowns - including our new trash hauling contract. We will work hard to keep the taxes in line.
I remain extremely proud of my Police, Fire, EMS, DPW and building workers. They take serving the public as a calling and do great work. What makes Hawthorne great is its volunteers - from rec coaches to people who serve on our Borough Boards. All of you make Hawthorne the great community that it is. You have my profound respect and gratitude.
My best wishes for a healthy and successful new year.
Richard S. Goldberg, Mayor