2017 State of the Borough
It seems like only yesterday I was sworn in as a newly elected Councilman. In fact, it was 19 years ago, and today begins my 20th year as an elected official. I’ve served 11 years on the Council and 9 years as Mayor. I am now the longest serving Mayor since Louis Bay the 2nd, and, no, I don’t plan on breaking his record or even coming close.
It has been an honor serving this Borough and its residents. As I look back on my time as Mayor, I take pride in stabilizing Municipal taxes. With the help of the Council we have lived inside the 2% cap instituted by Governor Christie without serious impact of Borough services. In my tenure we have seen our bond rating increased. We continue to repair our infrastructure so as not to leave our children a huge bill to pay.
We have done some amazing things over the last nine years, including operation Fallen Hero where we are dedicating street corners to our residents who served our country and paid the ultimate price. We are a little over a third done and will continue until all of the names on the monuments in front of the Municipal Building are recognized with a street corner dedication. I have met some fantastic and grateful families since I started this program.
One of my proudest accomplishments is Hawthorne Day. It is a great community day filled with fun, food, music and fireworks. It is a day that doesn’t use public funds, and next year it will be its ninth year.
I take great pride in our 9-11 Memorial; it is, in my opinion, one of the most impressive in New Jersey. It was built with no public money. The labor was donated, which included the architecture and engineering, including ground preparation and landscaping. Money was raised in a one-time appeal of our residents and businesses. If you have yet to visit it, I urge you to stop by and spend a few moments; I guarantee you will be touched.
A few years ago Hawthorne was voted one of the most boring places in New Jersey. I was ok with that, but one of the criticisms was that there was no live music in Hawthorne. We have built a beautiful band shell, and last year’s inaugural season was great; this year’s season will be even better. Let’s keep the band shell our little secret so we stay on the boring list.
So what’s in store for this year? This year Hawthorne will become a Stigma Free Community. A stigma free community’s goal aims to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness. We are dedicated to raising awareness of the disease of mental illness and create a culture wherein residents who have the disease feel supported by their community and neighbors, and feel free to seek treatment for the disease without fear of stigma. To this end I have appointed a committee to fulfill the requirements needed to be declared a “Stigma Free Community”. It will be chaired by Joe Ross and will have as its members Helen Pasquale representing the Board of Health and the Municipal Alliance, Alex Clavijo representing the Board Education, with Nicole Leininger and Guy Tumminello representing the public. The Police Chief, Superintendent of Schools and I will serve ex-officio helping the committee. My thanks to those that volunteered to serve our community.
Our long awaited streetscape should begin in the spring. A new traffic light, street lighting and sidewalks will help upgrade our downtown. This is phase one, and we hope to get more grants to continue sprucing up our downtown.
Recognizing we live next to the 3rd largest city in New Jersey and that heroin flows freely out of the city, I have decided to apply for a COPS MORE grant to hire a new officer this year. This will bring the complement of officers back to the 2008 staffing levels. I am extremely proud of the police department, and you can rest assured knowing that these men and woman are the Borough’s first line of defense.
I also cannot say enough about the dedication and bravery of our Fire Department and EMS. We are blessed to have such great volunteers serving our community.
Our DPW workers continue to serve our residents with care and hard work. Whether it be water, road or sewer, our DPW responds to all emergencies.
We are blessed by hardworking and dedicated people in our municipal building. I have personally witnessed them going beyond their jobs to help our residents.
Lastly I want to thank the people who make my job easier, the Council, Eric Maurer my Administrator, Director of Finance Mary Jean Hewitt, my DPW Director Bob Scully, Water Superintendent Ronnie Gonzalez, Borough Attorney Mike Pasquale, Engineer Stephen Boswell, Police Chief Richard McAuliffe, Fire Chief Joe Speranza, EMS Chief Ken Houtsma, Zoning Administrator Gene DeAugustines, Borough Clerk Lori DiBella and my Administrative Assistant Ellen Brogno.
In closing I want to thank you for the confidence you have placed in me. Happy New Year and God bless you and the Borough of Hawthorne.
Mayor Richard Goldberg