BERNARDS TWP., NJ - During a New Year reorganization speech in which she stated that the Bernards Township Committee's "first priority in 2016 remains financial stability," new Township Mayor Carol Bianchi also told a full-house crowd on Monday night, "It is truly an honor to serve this most generous and spirited community as Mayor this year."
This is the first time Bianchi will be filling a year-long term as mayor since she joined the all-Republican Township Committee in 2013. Here is a video of part of her first speech, previewing her goals for 2016.
Among those goals, Bianchi included working with township department heads to improve roads and "aging recreational facilities." She said she plans to launch a mayor's newsletter, to which residents could subscribe online.
Bianchi's appointment as mayor by her fellow Township Committee members was followed by the appointment of Township Committeewoman Carolyn Gaziano as deputy mayor.
This year's deputy mayor likely to be next year's mayor
By tradition in Bernards Township, that means Gaziano is likely to again serve as mayor in 2017.
Gaziano, first elected in 2010, previously served as township mayor in 2013. Both Gaziano and John Malay were sworn into new three-year terms on the Township Committee on Monday night.
Malay, who has served on the Township Committee since 2004 was mayor three times - most recently in 2015.
Malay also gave a year-end report on Monday night, saying 2015 had been "another good year for Bernards Township."
"To name just a few [accomplishments], we completed our turf field project at Mountain Park, a $1.7 million dollar effort delivered on time and under budget, that was funded in ways with no impact on the general budget," Malay said in his report, which is posted on the township website.
"We solidified our relationship with Somerset County, selling them Bridgewater border properties contiguous with county Open Space for $510,000, entered into “Salt Dome Agreement” to be built in 2016 that will increase County efficiency/response for snow operations in Bernards." That agreement with the county will ensure the township access to sufficient snow and ice control materials, Malay said.
The township also received multiple grants for renovations to the historic Lyons Train station for improvements that, when coupled with township parking lot construction, enhanced the central commuter hub, Malay said. Another federal grant for a $250,000 generator and other modifications to keep town hall at 1 Collyer Lane powered up and a central location in the case of another power outage/natural disaster, he said.
Malay also spoke about the township's commitment to staying free of municipal debt, a theme which Bianchi also echoed in her speech, which also is posted on the township website.
"Our pay as you go policy, avoidance of debt, and control of spending has served us well this past decade and will benefit the taxpayers into the future," Bianchi said.
Among her other projections for the year, Bianchi said, "We will work with the future developers of the 180-acre Millington Quarry, the largest tract of buildable space in Bernards Township, to ensure a plan that respects the private property owners rights and is in the best interest of the residents." Bianchi was co-founder of a citizens group that monitored soil pollution and the activities at the quarry off Stonehouse Road.
Both officials thanked the township's many volunteers, police and business representatives for contributing to the community.
Many public officials attended Monday's meeting, including members of the Somerset and Hunterdon County freeholder boards, and former Bernards Township mayors Scott Spitzer and Gailanne Barth.
Other citizens appointments, professional contracts and heads of volunteer organizations also were approved by the mayor and Township Committee on Monday night. They are listed on the Jan. 4 meeting agenda.