Garwood police officers, firefighters, and Department of Public Works (DPW) employees keep us safe in our homes and keep our streets clean. But over the years, the equipment and fleets that our borough's various departments had come to rely on were aging badly and becoming unsafe. 

When I was elected to Garwood Council in 2016, I decided to review and ensure that our Borough's Police Department, Fire Department and Department of Public Works had the right tools to get their jobs done safely and effectively. 

In fact, after reviewing the poor condition of the old DPW garbage truck, my very first act as Councilwoman was to move that the Council invest in a new one. The old truck was so old, and in such disrepair, that it had a hole rusted out of the body. How can you pick up garbage effectively with a hole in your garbage truck? Since we invested in a new truck, our employees who work hard picking up our trash across town are safer and doing their jobs more effectively. 

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Meanwhile, our Fire Department had an aging, 40+-year-old fire truck, and our Police Department was using outdated computers and a fleet of vehicles well past their recommended mileage. Because we had not made investments in new equipment in quite some time, our departments were forced into trying to keep this equipment going, throwing an inordinate sum of good money at bad. 

How can we expect our hardworking DPW and emergency responders to provide the top-notch services that our residents deserve without the proper equipment to do so? It was time to change the way things were done in Garwood. I believe that there are smart and sensible ways to budget and plan for these purchases. 

Council immediately set out to create a 5-year capital plan with our various departments to assess and prioritize their needs. Over the past three years since Marc Lazarow and I were elected to Garwood Council, the Borough has invested in a garbage truck, dump truck, and street sweeper for the DPW; police cars, proper signage and computer equipment for the Police Department; and turn-out gear and, most recently, a ladder fire truck for the Fire Department. 

By sticking to the capital plan, identifying new revenue and cost-saving opportunities, we've been able to do this all while keeping the budget stabilized and the impact to Garwood's taxpayers at a minimum. 

Everyone in Garwood deserves to feel protected by our emergency responders and to have their streets kept clean and properly functioning. Our work over the past three years has brought our services up to speed and set a path for the future where our departments do not feel neglected. This is the Garwood that every resident deserves—and we'll continue to fight to keep it that way!

Jen Blumenstock

Garwood Councilwoman and Candidate