BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Mayor Dan Hayes cited a growing economy in Bridgewater Township and promised continued efforts to move the town forward during his State of the Township Address at Monday’s reorganization meeting.
“The state of the township remains strong and we continue to demonstrate leadership in the growing economy of Somerset County and the Central Jersey region,” he said.
Hayes cited a number of increases in commercial investment in Bridgewater in 2014, including the former National Starch, which was purchased by Lincoln Equities Group and is now fully occupied with a number of major commercial tenants. In addition, Insmed, a biopharmaceutical company, has relocated from Monmouth Junction to Bridgewater with a staff of about 100 people, and Valeant Pharmaceuticals has occupied its 310,000-square-foot office in the Somerset Corporate Center with 500 employees and another 500 expected.
Hayes also cited the planned redevelopment at the Advance Realty site on Route 202/206, now called the New Jersey Center for Excellence, as a plus for the township.
“I am grateful we were able to attract a developer such as Advance Realty and to have a proposal to make the 110-acre site even more valuable than it ever was,” he said. “Many towns in New Jersey and the Northeast are struggling, burdened with large vacancies and substantial losses in tax revenues. I look forward to working with the Advance team, the planning board, the council and more importantly our residents to create a viable ratable that will support our continued leadership in pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and related industries well in the future.”
In addition, Hayes said the retail sector of Bridgewater has remained strong with the opening of Raymour & Flannigan on Route 202, 1000 Degree Pizza in the Village at Commons and Panchero’s on Union Avenue.
Through 2014, Hayes said, the township also continued with its fiscal management through programs like the new Somerville shared court, and awarding a contract to a vendor for the yard waste site, which will pay the township $50,000 annually for five years.
Land use, Hayes said, has remained of primary importance in the township, with the Weyerhauser property on East Main Street designated as a redevelopment site, as well as a settlement with the Al Falah Center for them to put forth an application for a mosque on property on Route 202/206.
“The township took substantial steps to preserve open space in 2014,” he said. “Working with Somerset County, the Robert Street site that was formerly a junk yard will provide access to the natural beauty of the Raritan River for all residents.”
The township has also purchased property adjacent to Harry Ally Park for future enhancements, among more open space work, Hayes said.
As for infrastructure, Hayes said the township has put in an investment of more than $7 million for partial or full resurfacing of roadways in 2014, including Vosseller, Vanderveer, Country Club, Garretson, Walters Brook, Meadow, Prince Rodgers and Juniper.
“This is not enough,” he said. “In 2015, we will add more streets to the list and continue our focus on road improvement. The council and I are committed to resurfacing as many roads as possible with the funding available.”
“Furthermore, establishing a long term road maintenance plan is an administration priority for 2015,” he added.
Transportation initiatives continue, Hayes said, including a study about a second train station in Bridgewater and the county construction of the Chimney Rock interchange.
Aside from several township wide events in 2014, and continued focused on maintaining essential operations for the township, Hayes said he is also amazed by the strength of the township’s volunteers.
“I believe the quality of a community can be assessed in large part by the character and vitality of its volunteers,” he said. “I am always amazed by the strength and number of residents who help make the township a better place by offering their expertise, knowledge, skills, effort and hard work to insure that the community they call home is one that thrives and reflects the values they exhibit in their own households.”
Also at the reorganization meeting, long-time councilman Howard Norgalis was named council president for 2015.
Norgalis said he is implementing a new email address for residents to send questions, concerns and comments to the council. He said he will respond to all emails, and share the information with council members during meetings when appropriate in case residents are unable to attend meetings, but still want to make their voices heard.
The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
“This is an effort to recognize residents who have busy lives,” he said.