Mayor’s Desk

Mark Taylor brown background

Mayor Mark Taylor

Annual Reorganization Meeting 2017

January 5, 2017

Good Evening and Welcome to the Annual 2017 Re-Organization meeting. Thank you all for taking time out of your busy schedules to attend this evening. We are blessed with the weather for this year’s re-organization meeting and I for one hope it stays this way. At this time I would like to recognize a few dignitaries and special friends that came out for our meeting this evening.   This is a very busy time of the year and I thank everyone for staying for a few minutes on their way to other re-org meetings.

I would like to recognize some dignitaries in the audience:

We have Freeholder Christine Meyers and former Councilman Stan Wisnewski. Thank you so much for being here.

As we once again change the calendar to a New Year, I must look back and reflect on how well Florham Park progressed in 2016 and state that the plans for the coming year look even better. I am truly honored and blessed to stand before you this evening as your Mayor. I would like to first thank my wife Janet and my children Erin and Christopher for their continued support in allowing me to be the mayor as it truly is a job I love very much and for a town that means so much to me.   It takes countless hours away from our time together.   Please know that I along with the Council will continue to work every day to do our absolute best for all residents of this great town as we move forward together.

I would like to take a minute to congratulate Tom Michalowski and Bill Zuckerman on their recent re-elections to Council. They have been working very hard these past years and I look forward to their continued successes in this New Year.   I would like to Thank Tom Michalowski for serving as Council President this past year…   Thank you, Tom

As we look back on 2016 and all that we have accomplished, I must highlight that Florham Park continues to be the best place in New Jersey to live and raise a Family and that is most humble opinion. I cannot convey to you how proud I am to be a part of our continued success. In this community of volunteers, this accomplishment continues to be realized due to the efforts of so many people. One of the most important factors in this accomplishment were the dedicated Employees of Florham Park Borough.   I wish at this time to extend my heartfelt appreciation to the staff in Borough Hall, Our Administrator Bill Huyler and our Clerk Sheila Williams, the Police department under the direction of Chief Treiber, all the employees of the Department of Public Works under the direction of Frank Esposito, Andrew Williams and Mike Smith, our Library employees directed by Joan Hipp , Water department, and Sewer department directed by Carl Ganger and Ted Lee, Recreation department directed by John Timmons our Zoning and Engineering departments, directed by Steve Jones and Mike Sgaramella Our Assessors office John Murry and Jim Gibbs   ..If there is anyone else I have missed… I am sorry, but thank you for a job well done.   I would also like to give a big round of applause to all the employees that are here this evening.

I also ask for a big round of applause for our Volunteers on the Fire Department and First Aid Squad; these are the people who are on the front line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.   Our Recreation volunteers, from those on the Recreation Committees to coaches, parent coordinators and all others who assist in our many sporting activities in Florham Park.

Shifting gears a little, this year we will mark the 150th birthday of our beloved and admired landmark known as the Little Red Schoolhouse, I would like to thank Suzanne Herold and the entire Historic Preservation Commission for the hard work in securing this treasured land mark with two recent grants to improve and restore the roof and building. Another upgrade we made last year is our newly renovated town pool and the entire Municipal Campus. Florham Park really is a special town.

In 2016 we also became a co-sponsor along with Tom “Ace” Gallagher a Hanover Township Committeemen by hosting our first of many Morris Area Coalition for Positive Choices and Education Master held class here in Florham Park.   This program will be on the road to as many municipalities as we can identify to help grow awareness towards the use of Drugs and Alcohol amongst our youth.   Thank you goes out to Chief Treiber and Captain Orlando and our entire Police Department for all their help and guidance on this program.

I would also like to thank all of our volunteer board members and commissions and committee members that take time out of their daily lives to serve this Borough in whatever capacity they can to make a difference.

Florham Park had a very busy year as we continue to chip away at lowering our debt and strive to do the best we can with the very smallest increase in Taxes in of spite health care and other costs that continue to increase year after year.   I am very proud of our team on the finance side directed by our CFO Patrice Visco. We continue to receive the blessing from Moody’s with a AAA bond rating. I will have you know that Florham Park is one of 16 Towns in New Jersey to hold this rating. When you consider the fact that Florham Park is one of 565 municipalities in New Jersey and we have held this AAA bond rating for all these year, you realize that this is a great accomplishment.     Thank you’ s go out to my team members, Jon Rheinhardt, Ray Sarinelli, Patrice Visco, Bill Huyler, and council Liaison Charlie Malone and all the Council members that worked so hard to achieve this goal.   We have a great financial team in place and we also have an aggressive plan in place as we move forward.

Florham Park has a completed downtown that is almost entirely occupied, it is nice to see the stores and businesses thrive.   We will see some new entities coming this year including Pastosa Italian Deli and Firehouse Subs; they are just two new businesses that are close to completion and should open in the 1st quarter of 2017.

Recently, the Council has discussed ways to better communicate with the residents of Florham Park. We have reached out to work with TAPinto Florham Park to help bring more information to the residents.   I must also thank Christine Lee Editor of the Florham Park Eagle. She has stepped up communication and she has brought the readers more stories about businesses in town and sports and recreation opportunities.   We will continue to work better on ideas for the Coffee with the Mayor and Council in this coming year.   Different times and days may help to grow this open forum.   We will be rolling out information on this new program shortly.

We continue to see new projects from the Rockefeller Group at the “Green at Florham Park”. The Summit Medical group is now open and their building is state of the art.   We can now envision what the “Ave” Corporate Suites by Korman will look like as the entire building is up and looking to open this spring.   The Green continues to evolve with more new and exciting projects coming including the recent ground breaking for MD Anderson.   MD Anderson will bring their life saving Caner doctors right here to Florham Park. We also recently had the ground breaking for the Archer Hotel. This 161 room hotel will feature 3 restaurants along with the boutique New York style rooms.     We are also very happy that Automatic Switch Company has completed their move and they have stayed here in Florham Park.   Florham Park has become a destination for both Commercial and Residential. With that we look forward to continued smart growth with the residential component on the Green at Florham Park starting their Planning Board meeting in a month or so.

At this time I would like to briefly run through the demanding portfolios of each council member and the accomplishments they have achieved for the betterment of this Community during this past year.


Council President Tom Michalowski:

The Florham Park Library: In 2016, people visited the Library over 87,000 times, borrowing and downloading 110,000 books, DVDs, eBooks, audiobooks, songs and other items. Aside from digital items, this year the Library added 4261 New books, 306 DVDs, 150 books on CD, 77 CDs and 23 computer games to the collection. The Library’s Akhoury Room and New Jersey Room were well used by community groups serving both young and Adult, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, the Historical Society, Garden Club, PTA, and Borough Committees have held meetings/events in the library. Community groups held 350 meetings in the Library meeting rooms with attendance of 4,820. The Library continues to act as a polling place for elections.

The Library is putting the finishing touches on their state or the art one on one student tech center. All new updates to the New Jersey room with new furniture and electronics and expanded children’s services to just name a few things happening at library under the guidance of Joan Hipp.   I would like to thank Joan Hipp and all the employees of the library for their hard work in making Florham Park a better place.

Sewer Utility: Ted Lee and Carl Ganger, in collaboration with representatives from CDM Engineering, have developed an asset management plan covering the span of 20 years including all facilities, pump stations, collection system piping, equipment and personnel needs. This will play a pivotal role as we assess and move forward.

The continued maintenance and repairs of the sewer plant will continue and the new pipe line on Timber Court and Woodbine have now been completed and put on line.   We are also very fortunate to have planned and saved some surplus money to be able to pay for these projects.

Water Utility: We have all been watching the weather patterns change and with that the Borough has been very mindful of our water levels throughout the summer and fall.   We remind all residents that the Borough is under its water conservation plan that there is a mandatory odd / even out door water restriction in place year round.

Annual Fire Hydrant replacement program was completed for the calendar year 2016. Replacements are determined by the physical inspection of the hydrants operating condition and age. Generally we try to replace 5 -10 hydrants a year.

Exxon Well and water transmission pipe easement have been transferred to the Borough from Rock GW.   This new well will play a key element in how we, as a town, will continue to provide water to all businesses and residents.

Board of Health:    The Board approved the renewal contract with Pequannock to provide Health Services to the borough for the next 7 years.

Detailed reports of the inspections can be found by going to the borough’s website and click on the following:

  • Board of Health
  • Township of Pequannock Health Dept Website
  • Retail food inspections
  • Under history of previous inspections, click Florham Park
  • Select the most recent date for the restaurant you are interested in

Free Rabies Clinic was conducted Saturday, Nov 19th at the Borough garage; 76 dogs and 29 cats were vaccinated.

4th of July Committee:   The 4th of July parade and festivities went off as planned, despite a brief rain storm in the evening before the fireworks. 28 kegs of beer were consumed, 600 mugs sold, Hamburgers sold out. Some other items that were left over (hot dogs, water…) were donated to Project Safe Night Out.   Reminder that 2017 will be the 60th parade here in Florham Park. The longest running parade in New Jersey.

Councilwoman Cefolo-Pane: Carmen is very busy as Liaison to many groups including The Florham Park Senior Club, whose membership is open to all Florham Park residents, age 62 and over. Currently, the membership stands at 200. Per 2010 census, Senior citizens represent 16.8% (approximately 2000) of the total FP population. The Florham Park Senior Club, is under the leadership of Club President Charlene Sozansky.

The senior citizen center in Florham Park continued to serve as a drop-in center Monday through Friday 9:00 am to 4:30 for all Florham Park residents age 62 and older. Senior volunteers coordinated Friday afternoon movies, weekly bingo, weekly drop-in game day, and weekly exercise class. The senior center is also the site for the annual PBA /FP senior citizen BBQ. We encourage all seniors to get involved with this great club.

The club meets twice a month and provides its members with various speakers and information on up to date issues such as IRS phone scams. Carmen is also Liaison to the Local AARP chapter and they are made up of close to 100 members, age 50 and over, from Florham Park and several surrounding communities.   I would like to thank the New President of the AARP Dick Zeien for his leadership.

Gazebo Committee: The Gazebo Committee worked throughout the year to put together the 2016 summer concert series. The seven concerts were made possible through the generous donations from local residents and businesses and the volunteer efforts of the committee. Two of the seven concerts were sponsored in two separate Florham Park residents.   Additions to the 2016 concert series included on-site food trucks and a professional sound company. Concerts were well-attended and 50/50 raffle sales were back and at an all-time record level of contributions.  As the committee looks forward to the 2017 concert series, “thank you” to the Chairmen Joe Jagiello and to all the Volunteers that make these concerts possible.   Let’s give a round of applause to these folks as well.

Cable TV: Coordinated through the volunteer efforts of Dave Ackerman, Channel 21 (optimum) & Channel 35 (FIOS) continued to provide residents with important community information as well as meeting and event dates for the borough and local organizations.

Planning and Zoning: The Planning Board considered numerous applications for changes in tenancy ranging from small business firms to large corporations.

During 2016 the construction department processed 851 new permits, for various construction throughout Florham Park. Including the Archer Hotel, MD Anderson at the green at Florham.   I must thank the entire department including Steve Jones and Janet Doherty.

The Planning Board voted on 35 applications. All were approved with varying levels of conditions. The Board also reviewed and adopted the Updated Housing Element and Fair Share Plan also known as COAH. The Planning Board, at the direction of the Borough Planner Robert Michaels, formed a subcommittee to re-examine and update the Borough’s Master Plan. The Planning Board was also given the task of updating on the most recent “coalition on affordable housing” or “COAH” regulations and where Florham Park stands as we move forward.

The Zoning Board in 2017 voted on 17 applications. The vast majority of approved applications underwent modifications throughout the hearing process and were approved with conditions.

Thank you to Marlene Rawson the Planning & Zoning Board Secretary for keeping the Boards on track.

Councilman Charlie Malone Jr. Charlie has a very demanding portfolio including but not limited to Finance Liaison. In 2014, we aggressively and successively worked to re-affirm the Borough’s Triple-A debt rating when Moody’s called numerous municipalities under review. In 2015, we converted $11.9M of short-term, floating rate debt – that was exposed to potential rise in interest rates – to fixed-rate debt ahead of the Federal Reserve’s first interest rate hike in over 9 years. At that time, we achieved a True Interest Cost of 2.02% with coupon payments ranging from 2 – 5% over the life of the bond from the lowest competitive bidder. In 2016, Moody’s Investor Service issued their Annual Issuer Comment Report on Florham Park which reiterated Florham Park’s General Obligation issuer rating at their highest level, Triple-A (Aaa). The report characterizes Florham Park’s finances as “strong financial position”, Florham Park’s economy and tax base as “very healthy”, and debt and pensions as “manageable”. Quoting an excerpt from Moody’s review and write-up:

“The credit position for Florham Park is extremely strong, and its Aaa rating far exceeds the median rating of Aa3 for cities nationwide. The notable credit factors include a very solid financial position and a superior socioeconomic profile with a sizable tax base. It also reflects a somewhat elevated pension liability with a light debt burden”.

Applied for and received $24,060 in the County’s initial Trail Grant Program for the proposed new Stobaeus to Briarwood Trail. The Greenway Trail is estimated to be 1,050 feet long and 15 feet wide, comprised of crushed stone and will connect Stobaeus Field parking lot to Briarwood School’s ballfield. This will allow for pedestrian and bicycle access between the two facilities. Look forward to trail construction and opening in 2017.

Charlie Chaired, drafted and Council approved new Anti-Nepotism Ordinance for Borough employment.

New in 2016:
  • Tax, Water and Sewer payments can now be made online. Community Pass for online Recreation Program was new in 2015 and expanded its use in 2016.
  • Community Garden created and opened at Elm Street Field complex. Funded through the receipt of a Clean Communities Grant of $25,997 from NJDEP.
  • Recreation Programs like Men’s over 30 Basketball and Indoor Volleyball
  • Ice Skating Rink – in its 2nd year – was moved to a new location next to the Rec Center this year and expanded to full NHL size. With cold weather Jan/Feb. looking to provide another outlet for youth and adult recreation during the winter months.
  • Emmett #3 60/90 baseball field was converted to a softball field due to increased demand amid the growth of the Men’s
  • Hosted NY Jets Cheerleaders for a special practice at Elm Street Turf in conjunction with FP/EH Cheerleading.
  • The Borough hosted a youth flag football tournament in November 2016 in conjunction with USA Football, the NY Jets and the NFL. The Rec Dept., FPPD, DPW and USA Flag Football did a great job handling the initial year of this big honor for Florham Park having been asked to host the prior two years.
  • For 2017 Budget Process, We held preliminary budget meetings in July to give Council even greater visibility and voice into process. Finance Committee continued to meet into Fall and Winter 2016. 2017 Budget process is well underway.
  • Completed a three-year contract extension for our Business Administrator Bill Huyler.
  • Continued to host several Hanover Park Sports at fields in Florham Park during spring and fall seasons while HP Fields were being constructed and finally opened in Fall ’16
  • Held a meeting with Charter Club Sports Presidents to discuss:
  • Greater coordination of schedules to benefit the multi-sport youth athlete.
  • Morris Area Coalition for Positive Choices and Education. How to bring the sport clubs and coaches on board with this program.
  • Campaign continues to remind local residents of the benefits of shopping local to support businesses in the Town. “Meet me In F.P.” website has grown from the initial 100 businesses to 130 today.

FP Rotary: Charlie added FP Rotary liaison role to portfolio in 2016 and he continues to find ways to help this group grow.


Councilman Scott Carpenter:

Under the Police portfolio we saw the retirement this year of Captain Mark Garcia and Sergeant Scott McCafferty.   The Police department has undergone many new changes under Chief Treiber as we continue to go through the very difficult task of promotions when vacancies occur.

Handled over 30k calls for service.

  • 232- Arrests
  • 6,204 – MV Stops
  • 1,768 – Summonses
  • Achieved re-accreditation status from the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police.
  • Brought back Neighborhood Watch, which was popular in the 1980’s in the borough. Currently have over 70 trained block watch captains covering over 100 streets throughout the borough. Goal for 2017 is to have an active program on every street within the borough.
  • The PD Held another successful National Night Out. Over 1,000 residents came out and showed support for the department and took a stand against crime.
  • Officers saved a resident who overdosed on an opiate utilizing NARCAN.
  • The PD trained officers with Tasers which offers our officers an alternative to deadly force in certain situations.
  • Held three (3) successful “coffee with a cop” programs.

 

This group of dedicated officers are always available to help the public.   I would like to offer a round of applause for all the officers and for those present this evening.

Also under Councilman Carpenter’s portfolio is the Volunteer Fire Department. They continue to look for new members.   “Please apply”   Under the guidance of Chief Carpenter, we have a great Volunteer group of Men and currently one Women firefighter that stand at the ready in the event of a fire.   A big round of Applause for all these great volunteer members.

First Aid Squad: The Squad continues to provide Volunteer Services. Many of you may have seen the addition to the Squad building. This added space is to house the three rigs. The Squad continues to look for new members to run all shifts.   These volunteers give up countless hours of their own time to provide this service. A round of applause for these members as well.

Florham Park DPW:   Under Councilman Carpenter’s portfolio, the DPW continues to keep our community looking great and operating smoothly. The DPW continues to complete many outside projects as weather has been on our side.   Thank you’ s go out to Frank Esposito and his hardworking supervisors Andrew Williams and Mike Smith for their roles in maintaining smooth operations in this busy area and to all our very valued and dedicated DPW workers. Let’s give them a round of applause.

Engineering Department: Mike Sgaramella and his assistant Jim Depalma continue to review plans and projects based on how busy we are as a Boro. They have both also been very busy completing many road improvements throughout the year.     We are a busy town with new construction going on throughout the town.

Recycling: Florham Park Borough is working with Northeast Recycling to handle the composting of the Borough leaves and brush. The agreement frees up Department of Public Works employees to attend many other needs in town and save our taxpayers the expense of disposals costs associated with leaves and other debris.

Residents may purchase higher quality materials at an additional cost. Florham Park received grant money for our recycling in 2016.


Councilman Charlie Germershausen:

Board of Chosen Freeholders: The Freeholders completed a whole year of overseeing the Morris County Correctional Facility after assuming control.

Florham Park was the recipient of the Morris County Freeholders Grants for road improvements during the past year.

The freeholders presented a plaque to Mayor Taylor in June in recognition of the preservation efforts for the Little Red Schoolhouse.

In the June primary, the Freeholders endorsed candidate James Gannon for Morris County Sheriff. Mr. Gannon was the winner in both the primary and general election in November. Mr. Gannon brings with him many years of civil service in Morris County as a member of the Prosecutor’s Office. The Freeholders voted this month to place the county correctional facility back into the Sheriff’s Department control under Sheriff-elect Gannon. Mr. Gannon has met many times with the jail staff and the freeholders on his plans going forward. We wish Jim Gannon good luck in his new position.

Historic Preservation: The Commission had a very busy and interesting year. We applied for a grant to replace the roof and other exterior projects such as installing a new “copper gutter” system which was the type during the period that the schoolhouse was constructed. We went out to bid in April. The roof and gutters were completed in November and December.

We received a Morris County grant in the amount of $120,000 for the project

The Commission held an open house during the “Pathways” event this fall, in which many Morris County historic places were open to the public. This event was well attended.

Plans are focusing on the 150th Anniversary event for 2017. February 28th the Brooklake Country Club will be the location for a Mardi gras cocktail party to kick off the 150th celebration of the Little Red Schoolhouse.

Please keep February 28th open for this great event.   There will be more information on the Florham Park Website.

The Commission, held a cleanup day at Hancock Cemetery in June. The Commission has been working on cleaning and restoring several headstones. It has been an ongoing project, with more projects planned for this year and next.

Councilman Bill Zuckerman: Florham Park Pool – The pool season started off with some major mechanical problems, these were quickly fixed.   With some great weather we had a very successful year. There was an increase in memberships this year.   The Utility was able to make the bond payment as scheduled.

Thank you for the leadership of our Pool Manager – Frank Newman and his staff. This season the life Guards were very hard at work with (11) “saves” at the pool.

For 2017, the Pool Advisory Committee will be looking at what improvements can be made to the Snack Bar.

Environmental Commission: Bill has also been very busy helping the Environmental Commission work to continue the trail around our Spring Garden Lake on East Madison Ave. With the survey of the town owned property at the lake, between the homes and the water the EC has been able to establish the area owned by the town. The EC has gone nearly completely around the lake in an effort to have a complete trail. I would personally like to thank Ted Trautman Chairman of the EC for his hard work to get this trail completed.   The clearing was done in cooperation with the Morris County Sheriff’s Office and several of our DPW workers and a bunch of volunteers. Bill has also been looking into grants that may be available to further the construction of a dock and bridge at Spring Garden Lake.   We will also be installing new floating wet lands on the lake this year, these will help the overall health of the lake and the fish population.

Board of Education. Bill has been attending board of Education meetings to keep the council up to speed on matters concerning the board.   Bill and I put together a meeting with Superintendent Dr. Melissa Varley and Board member Linda Rozek to discuss the ongoing increase in affordable house here in Florham Park and the impact that it will surely have on the school system from K-8 and beyond.

Conclusion:

As we begin 2017, I am very hopeful for the future.   I, the Council and our hardworking Borough employees continue to strive to make Florham Park a great place to live.   I would like to stress to each Florham Park resident that they can be confident that the Council Members and I will always do our best to keep Florham Park the #1 town and at the same time deliver the same high quality of services that our town is able to provide.

In closing, I would just like to say I am proud of this Borough, proud to be your Mayor and we can all look to the future for more amazing things for Florham Park.   I would like to thank the entire council for their dedication to this Borough and for their continued support as we move forward in 2017.

In just these few days of 2017 we lost Vincent Ryan, father of our beloved Clerk Sheila Williams.   Please keep the Ryan and William’s family in your prayers.

God bless you all in 2017 and God Bless America. Thank you.