DENVILLE, NJ -- On Jan 5, the Denville Township Council reorganized for the new year. Special guests Senator Anthony Bucco Jr., Congressman, Assemblyman Brian Bergen, freeholder Doug Cabana attended the meeting.

Following salutes and prayer, Councilman John Murphy was reelected as council president. Fred Semrau, Esq., was then sworn in as the municipal attorney.

“I like to thank the mayor and council for the opportunity to represent the community of Denville,” said Semrau.

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Later, live-streaming from his office, Mayor Thomas Andes then gave his State of the Municipality speech.

“The cardinal points of this administration have always included proactive flood mitigation, continued downtown economic revitalization, infrastructure upgrades, outstanding public health and safety measures, creative senior, recreational and social programs, and efficiency improvements, all while running the township in the most cost-effective manner possible,” said Mayor Andes.

“While this is and will always be the case, at times, circumstances take precedent as was the case in 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, concluding the township’s affordable housing obligation lawsuit, and a few other important issues had to be moved to the priority list.

2020 was a year like no other, both for the history of Denville Township and the history of our country. The COVID-19 pandemic tested the character of people, organizations, businesses, and leaders. Since March 15, our entire township staff has worked under varied amounts of stress and pressure. Imagine being a police officer, EMT or firefighter in the early days of the pandemic. During that time, every police, fire, first-aid and call for emergency services was answered by our paid and volunteer professionals. Every day, our water and sewer system were operational, our streets maintained and plowed if needed, our parks manicured, and our downtown kept pristine.”

“When there is a catastrophe, the people of Denville rise to the occasion. Our citizens don’t need to be told what to do. Almost immediately, Sue Banks and Robin Gershaw organized over 120 people who cut and sewed donated material into 22,000 face masks. They donated the face masks to local hospitals, dozens of nursing homes, fire departments, first aid squads, group homes, and for graduation ceremonies for Valleyview School and all five area high schools and the list goes on and on. Michael Anderson started Denville Strong where he organized volunteers to help neighbors in need through the pandemic. He and his team raised over $41,000 by requesting donations. They bought meals from area restaurants for first responders and front-line workers and donated the balance to Downtown Denville for Business Mini Grants.

When Downtown Denville asked for help, we inquired as to the type of assistance that could be provided. The department managers assembled and brainstormed all types of scenarios. Eventually, the key people met and focused on a plan to put into place to help our entire business community, which included outdoor dining parklets in the streets. Several restaurants were able to take advantage of this effort and fees were waived as feasible.”

“We set up a few picnic tables surrounding the new decorative wall around the First Avenue Parking Lot, which were used immediately with positive feedback. Although this was not the original plan, we saw the need and found size-appropriate six-foot and four-foot green picnic tables that were constantly in use into the late Fall. The tables match our color scheme, and we plan on using them year after year. The wall was decorated for the holidays as was the new fence along the Upper Bloomfield Avenue Parking Lot.”

“Finally, the Township sponsored most of the ‘Denville after Dark Events’ and the ‘Pink Witches’ event. Our sponsorship covered the entire cost of the Police and DPW [Department of Public Works] overtime hours. These events brought crowds of people to our town center and most felt that these events were very successful,” Andes concluded.

Following speeches, the governing body then made the council liaison appointments, including Beautification Committee (Angela Coté), Board of Adjustment (Gary Borowiec), Denville Community TV & Media (Borowiec), Deer Management Advisory Board (Harry Fahrer), Denville Board of Education (Fahrer), Economic Development & Downtown Business Improvement District (Coté), Environmental Commission (Glenn Buie), Fire Department (Golinski), Green Sustainability Committee (Buie), Historical Society (Fahrer), Library Board of Trustees (Golinski), Local Assistance Board (Golinski), Mayor's Council for People with Challenges (Douglas Gabel), Mayor's River & Streams Advisory Committee (Gabel), Mayor's Paths & Trails Committee (Coté), Mayor's Sport Facilities Advisory Board (Borowiec), Morris County Community Development Revenue Sharing Committee (Buie), Morris County League of Municipalities (Murphy), Morris County Vo-Tech (Murphy), Morris Hills Regional Board of Education (Gabel), Municipal Alliance Committee (Coté), Open Space, Recreation, Farmland & Historic Preservation Committee (Murphy), Planning Board (Gabel), P.R.I.D.E. Council (Buie), Property Maintenance Appeal Board (Murphy), Recreation Committee (Borowiec), Rockaway Valley Watershed Cabinet (Golinski), and Senior Citizens (Fahrer).

“Thank you to all the administration for their hard work and thank you for all my fellow councilmen,” said Councilman Murphy.

“We started off with an extremely tough year. It’s been an extremely challenging year, and I am humbled by the efforts of this council in 2020. We know it will be another challenging year for 2021. We can only ask that you double your efforts and do the best for your town.”