LIVINGSTON, NJ — In his final act as Mayor of Livingston Township, Al Anthony nominated Rudy Fernandez as Livingston’s next mayor and Shawn Klein as deputy mayor on Wednesday following an extremely productive second term in 2019.
As 2019 came to an end, Anthony reflected on some of the year’s major achievements, such as providing 100-percent renewable energy to the majority of Livingston residents, and other notable accomplishments to be proud of, such as becoming the first municipality in New Jersey to celebrate Women's Veterans Day.
“As great as 2019 was, I’m confident we will keep it going in 2020, as we have the same team up here working at it again,” Anthony said at Wednesday’s reorganization meeting. “In our rotation system of mayor, I think it’s incumbent upon me to briefly say how we did this past year. I’m happy to report that thanks to the teamwork of everyone up here, and the best town employees, volunteers and residents in the state, we are a leader for other towns to follow.”
Stating that the Township of Livingston is entering the next decade “much stronger than the last,” Anthony declared that the township made “significant strides” in 2019 that he believes will “help the township continue to be a tremendous place to live, work and raise a family.” He cited the following as some of the notable moments:
Open Space Trust Fund Allows Livingston to Acquire More Than 20 Acres of Open Space
The township had a monumental year for open space in 2019, approving the purchase of more than 20 acres of land between two properties: the Licari property at 240 East Northfield Road and the Strahman property at 321 East Cedar Street.
“We worked with our excellent Open Space Committee, private landowners, town manager, council and town attorney to purchase the two most-desired large tracts of land on the Open Space roster—using money dedicated to this use from our Open Space Trust Fund, and thus not affecting our budget,” said Anthony. “More than 20 acres of land acquired from the Strahman and Licari purchases will remain undeveloped with more to come so our residents can enjoy more recreational opportunities and increased quality of life in town.”
As the township moves forward with the purchase, a committee is currently being formed to decide what the future of these properties will look like. CLICK HERE for the full story.
Livingston Cuts Ribbon at Essex County Riker Hill Art Park After Long-Awaited Renovations
In 2019, the first phase of a $1.1 million renovation project at Essex County Riker Hill Art Park was officially completed, including upgrades that will improve public access, address flooding concerns and enhance aesthetics at the Livingston-based site.
“After advocating for our town during my first mayoral term in 2016 and receiving a promise from the county executive, the promise was fulfilled this year with a $1.2-million renovation and ribbon cutting at Riker Hill Art Park,” said Anthony. “This first of three phases provides for a much-improved park with increased drainage, better pedestrian access and motor vehicle circulation, newly painted buildings and the creation of a beautiful overlook site as well as a community garden.”
A ribbon cutting ceremony was held in October to commemorate the completion of the first of three renovation phases. CLICK HERE for the full story.
Livingston Identifies and Obtains Property for New Department of Public Works (DPW) Headquarters
A portion of land on Industrial Parkway, which is situated parallel to Route 10 in Livingston and is currently an overgrown grassland area located near the Brendan P. Tevlin Field/Okner Sports Complex, was officially acquired in 2019 to house the Livingston DPW.
“We finally took legal action in an eminent domain action to acquire the land we found best suited for a new DPW town garage for our incredibly hard-working and effective DPW workers,” said Anthony. “In this decades-old issue, instead of sinking good money into the old, outdated and inappropriately located DPW site on S. Livingston Avenue, we will be building a new facility on Industrial Parkway, and thereby freeing up the old site for a more appropriate use on this main road in town.”
The council believes this property will also be large enough to house the public school busses that are currently being parked in multiple locations throughout the township. CLICK HERE for the full story.
Livingston Becomes Eighth U.S. Municipality to Provide 100-Percent Renewable Energy to Majority of Residents
The Township of Livingston became the second municipality in the state and eighth in the country to make 100-percent renewable energy available to a majority of its residents after the township council passed resolutions that provide 100-percent renewable energy to residents living in PSEG territory and 41 percent to residents who are JCP&L customers.
“Starting in June 2019, Livingston PSEG residents began receiving 100-percent green energy for the next 16 months at a 10-percent cost savings on their bill,” said Anthony. “Collectively, these residents—which comprise over 75 percent of our town—will be saving $1.125 million dollars.
"This achievement was a result of hard work by our council and hiring the right company to perform the aggregation process. I am so proud to say that Livingston and its 30,000 residents are serious about climate change and are doing our part.”
The adoption of these resolutions is the culmination of an ongoing conversation surrounding energy aggregation that began in 2017. CLICK HERE for the full story.
Mayors of Eight West Essex Municipalities Meet Monthly to Discuss Shared Services
Anthony regularly met throughout the year with eight West Essex mayors and town managers—West Caldwell, Caldwell, North Caldwell, Roseland, Verona, Essex Fells, Fairfield and Livingston—and leaders from other towns to discuss ways to help each other save taxpayers dollars.
“We are working toward several potential win-win scenarios,” said Anthony. “We hosted the June meeting at our town hall, which was the only session attended by the state-appointed Shared Service Czars former mayors Nicolas Platt and Jordan Glatt.”
Anthony expects these meetings to continue into the next decade.
More to be proud of:
During his year as mayor, Anthony also made note of the following achievements:
- The municipal budget for 2019 was adopted with the lowest tax increase to residents in nearly two decades.
- The township saw record-breaking attendance for the 24th annual Youth Appreciation Week, which includes popular events like Family Festival Day and Building Blocks Workshops.
- Livingston Summerfest, which is nearing similar popularity to Livingston’s 4th of July Celebration and National Night Out, was revamped to include several live bands plus beer and wine garden and food trucks at the Livingston Oval.
- In partnership with SYLS, the township hosted its first annual “Doggy Dip” at the Northland community pool after it closed for the summer.
- An Ad Hoc Plastics Committee was created and recently presented a drafted ordinance to the council that would prohibit single-use plastics at Livingston’s retail establishments and township facilities.
- For the first time, the township added an Italian flag and a Pan-American flag, which represents 22 Latino South American countries, to its growing list of flag-raising ceremonies.
- Livingston become the first municipality in New Jersey to celebrate “Women’s Veterans Day” with a commemorative ceremony held at the Memorial Oval.
- The governing body opened both the Northland Park and Haines pools to all residents, both members and non-members, during an oppressive heat wave and received record attendance.
- The township continued its involvement and welcoming of developmental disability opportunities by opening LifeTown and renaming the street “Miracle Way,” hosting a groundbreaking of a new 17,000-square-foot facility in town for the Jewish Services for Developmentally Disabled (JSDD) and breaking fundraising records (surpassing $1.4 million) for Livingston’s two Cerebral Palsy of New Jersey (now Pillar Care Continuum) schools.
- The council also took steps toward a proposed performing arts center for the township by agreeing to conduct a feasibility study of potential locations.
SEE ALSO: Arts Council of Livingston Expresses Need for Local Theatre
- The township requested and received a thorough cleanup of the Livingston Circle from the State of New Jersey and will also receive a Beautification Project, including a future planting of wildflowers, after being added to the state’s Good Neighbor Program to receive a Beautification Project including a future planting of wildflowers.
- Littell People’s Park playground was renovated and reopened to the public, and new sidewalks were also installed at the Oval.
Anthony’s personal achievements as mayor in 2019:
During his second mayoral term, Anthony met with and exchanged “Keys to the City” with two international mayors—including Mario Vanni, mayor of Altavilla Irpina, Italy, and Nissan Ben Hamo, mayor of Arad, Israel.
He was also named a “Notable Mayor” in InsiderNJ’s 2019 Power Rankings, which he was proud of because the publication doesn’t typically include elected officials, but “went out of its way to note Livingston’s achievements.”
As the mayor to officially sign the contract for Livingston’s Energy Aggregation Program after several years of discussion, Anthony was asked to share the background and significance of this achievement with all elected officials in an official publication of the New Jersey State League of Municipalities.
His article was also published on TAPinto Livingston and can be read by clicking HERE.
Final remarks from Livingston's outgoing mayor:
“We enter this new decade in terrific shape due to courage and hard work,” Anthony said at Wednesday’s council meeting. “New manager, new police chief, new turf field, better budgets, less debt, more open space, more green energy, a new DPW site and more fun things to do in town.”
He extended gratitude to his fellow council members, the police and fire departments, DPW, first aid squad, all local volunteers, township employees and his family members for their support and hard work in 2019.
“It has been and continues to be an honor and privilege to represent the people of this town,” he said.
To his wife, Lori, and kids, Luke, Sam, Joe and Bella, he said, “I love you beyond words; thanks for everything.”
“Luke, doing great at Stevens as a sophomore; Sammy working hard and acceptances to colleges coming in; Joe doing great as a freshman; and Bella turning me into sucker dad instead of soccer dad every day,” he said. “To my bride—who, God willing, we will celebrate our 25th anniversary this May—it’s more true now than ever: I’m crazy for you. It’s Lori Anthony Day in our household forever more, so I better get cracking.”
Anthony publicly honored his wife in December with a proclamation officially declaring every day as “Lori Anthony Day” in his home. CLICK HERE for the full story.
During Wednesday's meeting, Rudy Fernandez was officially sworn in as the Mayor of Livingston for 2020. Full coverage of the 2020 reorganization meeting is forthcoming.