Given the incidents of November and December most of us are looking forward to 2013. I want to begin my State of the Borough address by looking at the lessons we learned from super storm Sandy. I was, and am extremely pleased with our response to Sandy. Our emergency management coordinator Rich McAuliffe, along with the department heads, did a great job during the storm. Our emergency services both paid and volunteer did a tremendous job under very adverse conditions. The death Monday evening of Fletcher Fish was a horrible tragedy. Although there were wild rumors on social media we kept the residents updated on our website and by volunteers passing out fliers in the areas without power. At the peak approx. 86% of the Borough was without power. Most troublesome was that both water pumping and treatment facilities at two diametrically sides of the Borough were powerless. While we had our water towers full of water we lacked the ability to pump more water as we drew down the supply. At no time was the Borough about to turn off the spigot, nor did we ever have a boil water alert. We did however reach out to the Passaic Valley water commission to turn on an emergency interconnect near the Prospect Park border. This was the first time we ever opened this interconnect and was able to receive 500,000 gallons of water a day. This lasted about a day until power was restored at the north station. In addition Fire Chief Speranza requested a tanker truck for firefighting. As I mentioned at the time, both Walmart and Home Depot offered bottle water if the emergency worsened. Both the sewer station and police departments’ generators work flawlessly. While most of the Municipal building was without power we opened the building and every office was covered. I held daily briefings in the courtroom with all available Borough personnel to plan and report activities throughout the recovery. I was a part of daily conference calls with the Governor to learn what the State was doing to help us. Downed trees were moved roads opened and brush removed in Hawthorne long before surrounding communities and for that I am extremely proud and grateful. On first blush we felt we needed hundreds of thousands of dollars on generators to ensure no interruption to our water service, but I am recommending to the Council that we wire and prepare our water stations to receive rented generators in case of a failure. This plug and play technology will save a tremendous amount of money on the generators as well as maintenance for an event that we may not see again in our lifetime. Conversely, I am recommending to the Council the purchase of a generator that will run both the police department and municipal building. The existing generator will be moved to the library, so that in case of sheltering they will have power. While I was happy with our communications I know we can do better and will be contracting with Nixel, a company that will give us unlimited texts and emails, to those who subscribe. We will be able to create sub groups to give alerts for senior issues, youth issues, garbage and recycling and the like. This should happen early this year and I will fill you in as it happens.
This will be a year of transition for the Police Department. Police Chief Robert Scully will be retiring at the end of March. I have selected Captain Richard McAuliffe to be the next Chief of Police for the Borough of Hawthorne. I have every confidence that Rich will do an excellent job and Chief Scully has vowed to work with the Captain for a smooth transition. Sunday, the accreditation team was here for a visit and hopefully early this year we will hear that the Department will be granted accreditation. The accreditation and our policies ensure that our police officers adhere to the highest standards and we will see a reduction in the Boroughs liability insurance because of it.
We will continue this year to dedicate streets in the memory of our children who bravely went to war and didn’t return. I urge those of you who have not witnessed this solemn and special event to be a part of it in June or November.
Hawthorne Day continues to grow as we prepare for Hawthorne Day 5. This is a great day for families and friends to celebrate Hawthorne and the wonderful food, activities, music and fireworks all at no cost to the taxpayers.
To finish my report, today I am making 49 appointments. 21 women and 28 men. 32 are Republican, 8 are Democrats, 4 are not registered in Passaic County and 5 are Undeclared. I believe that this is a good cross-section of the community, especially when you realize that we have partisan form of government. In all cases, my appointments were based on ability, not gender or political party.
My wishes for a happy and healthy New Year and may God Bless Hawthorne and its residents.
Richard S. Goldberg, Mayor