HAWTHORNE, NJ - At the Borough Reorganization Meeting on Wednesday, the great ritual of municipal democracy was in full effect. Following the invocation by Rabbi Jonathan Woll of Glen Rock, Mayor Richard Goldberg was sworn into his new term by Assemblyman Robert Auth of the 39th District. Councilmen-at-Large Bruce A. Bennett, Dominic Mele, and John V. Lane were sworn in by Municipal Judge John Meola, Mayor Richard Goldberg, and Harrington Park Mayor Paul Hoelscher respectively. With each official duly sworn in, a round of handshakes from executive, legislative, and administrative personnel followed amid a wave of congratulations.
With the term of Council President having expired, Council Vice President Frank E. Matthews (4th Ward) was nominated for the position. With no dissenting votes, Matthews took on the mantle. For the Vice Council President seat, now-former Council President John Bertollo (2nd Ward) was nominated and voted into that position with no dissenting votes. The two men promptly switched seats--with updated desk signs--and Council President Matthews led the reorganization meeting there on.
Council President Matthews gave an address in which he thanked his colleagues and family and spoke of the responsibilities of being an elected official. "People are motivated by many factors, political affiliation, personal gain, anti-establishment, or are generally not happy no matter what you do... I and the entire council truly do want to make the best decisions for all of our residents, and yes, we'd like to make all of them happy. I know it's not possible but the day we stop trying is the day we move on and let someone else step up and take the challenge. Over the last couple years, we've had a number of physical projects planned and implemented. The band shell was completed and new restrooms were added. All programming has been provided at no cost to the residents and many residents have turned out for many concerts.
"Phase One of our Downtown Streetscape was completed and hopefully Phase Two will be starting shortly. The expansion and alteration of the DPW building has finally begun and our fleet will be protected from fire and the elements and our facilities will finally have a state mandated truck wash that was required for us to do. Our water tanks will be cleaned and repainted as per state requirements. While this is not a sexy project, this is no small or inexpensive task.
"Going forward this year, I don't see many physical projects on the horizon but I would say that this year's greatest challenge will be planning our current and financial budgets without the 2% cap that Governor Murphy has hinted he will not renew.... I know personally that I as well as the rest of the council will work towards a 2% increase as a max if possible."
Following the Council President and Vice President remarks, each of the councilmen delivered their own. With no minutes to approve, the meeting moved onto the public comments phase. Nobody had comments to offer and likewise there was no comment or discussion of the adoption of Resolution 2199-17, which amended a zoning ordinance regarding hours of operation for businesses in the B-1 and B-2 zoning districts.
Mayor Goldberg delivered his address and spoke of the accomplishments of the previous year. "I want to thank the voters for returning me to office for the next four years. The confidence you have shown in me and this council is something I take very seriously. 2017 was fraught with challenges but we met and overcame every obstacle. And while it might be tempting to rest on one's laurels this year, it's just not my style." The mayor addressed the cumbersome zoning ordnance and the council's efforts to update it. "While the code has been modified in bits and pieces over the years, this is the first major overhaul since adoption of the original ordnance in the 1950s. We've devoted countless hours in meetings, discussions, in certain creations of drafts, devoting four meetings to definitions alone. I'm hopeful to finish, review, and update the code and have it passed by the year's end."
Further, Goldberg referred to the reduction of the police department from 32 officers to 30 as part of the Christie plan to reduce property taxes. "Working with the PBA, we kept the promises made at the start of 2017 and hired our 32nd officer at our most recent council meeting. We created the position of Special Police Officer 2 and with our two specials, the borough will have the greatest manpower in the department's history. Being located next to the third largest city in New Jersey brings many challenges. Chief McAuliffe, our superior officer, and patrol officers do an outstanding job protecting our residents.
"This year our fire department will make history by installing the first female line officer. Our membership remains strong and while we recently purchased a new engine to replace the engine used by Company 3, our department continues to respond to the borough of Glen Rock. While technically it is considered mutual aid, we are, in fact, first responders to the borough of Glen Rock. Our ambulance corps suffered a loss last year with the passing of Dan Vanderhook. Dan's service to the borough was close to 45 years and he will be missed. The corps is capably led by Chief Kenny Houtsma who is now the longest serving EMT in borough history."
The officials of the borough delivered scores of handshakes and congratulations during the course of the evening, and Mayor Goldberg swore in dozens of new appointees. The audience was packed with the new officials for the various positions which needed to be filled for the new administration, as well as their family and friends. Borough Attorney Michael J. Pasquale, Esq., returned to his office, sworn in by his mother, Helen, who herself was sworn in for member of the Board of Health (by her son), and for the Hawthorne Municipal Alliance (by Mayor Goldberg).
Goldberg filled the positions of Borough Administrator, Director of Public Works, Assistant Prosecutor, the Board of Health members, the Environmental Commission, the Shade Tree Commission, Public Defender, the large Municipal Alliance Committee, the Economic Development Committee, Board of Recreation Members, Planning Board Members, Chief of the Bureau of Fire Prevention/Land Use/Administrator and Housing Officer, the Public Agency Compliance Officer, Representative to Solid Waste Advisory Council and Alternate, the Risk Management Consultant, as well as council appointments for the Municipal Auditors and Frank Matthews as a Planning Board Class III Member/Council Representative.
Resolutions on the Consent Agenda R 1-18 to R 15-18 were passed unanimously and without discussion, likewise Off-Consent Agenda Resolutions R 16-18 through R 18-18.
The Reverend Howie Van Dyk delivered the benediction to close the session.