MADISON, NJ - Astri Bailie and Ben Wolkowitz are the newest members of the Madison Borough Council as of the re-organization meeting on New Year’s Day, Jan. 1, 2013.
Borough Administrator Raymond Codey administered the oath of office for the two Democrats. At the same meeting, farewells were issued to Dr. Vincent Esposito, outgoing councilman. Mayor Robert Conley read a proclamation, citing the many contributions made by Esposito during his five years in office. In a tearful commentary, the councilman accepted the traditional chair and noted he was born and raised in Madison.
An emotional addition to this year’s reorganization meeting was the acknowledgment of the borough’s partnership with Union Beach, NJ, following Hurricane Sandy. Mayor Paul J. Smith, along with two council members, thanked the Madison community. “We met so many beautiful people. We can’t thank you enough,” Smith said. Madison residents, businesses and others contributed over $80,000 in donations, Mayor Conley said. The council also adopted a resolution to donate a police patrol vehicle to the Union Beach Police Department.
Madison Junior School student Owen Matthews described the volunteer efforts by middle school students to help with cleanup. “We were all pretty awed,” she said of seeing the devastation first hand. She said there were two blocks completely gone and schools had over two feet of water and sewage. “When residents talked to us,” she said, ‘we knew what we were doing was actually helping.” The students and their peer leaders raised $1,600 for the community. “It was a very eye opening experience,” Owen said.
Councilwoman Carmela Vitale was nominated for council president by Councilman Ben Wolkowitz and elected.
Mayor Conley delivered his annual message, highlighting positive and negative events during 2012. Of Hurricane Sandy and its impact on Union Beach, he said, “We lost power. They lost homes.” He spoke of networking with corporate neighbors and Drew University to develop strong partnerships. Conley referred to the tragedy at Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Conn. “It shows how vulnerable we are. We’re doing all that is possible.” He said the newly formed Mayors Against Gun Violence is working to make New Jersey gun laws the laws of the nation. “Enough is enough,” he said of the rampant, senseless killings over the last few years. He reminded residents of the new playing field, “a top notch facility,” and the work still to be done at the Madison Recreation Complex. He noted the Green Village Road property resolution with the Board of Education. Conley also emphasized the need for long range planning. “Ben and Astri, you campaigned on that issue. I’ll hold you to that promise,” he said.
After a series of appointments and presentations, former Councilman Sam Cerciello suggested a resolution that council meetings begin promptly at 8 p.m. in 2013.