Letters to the Editor

New Year’s Day Message from Madison Mayor Conley


This past week we lost Wilson Britten, a two-term councilmember, who served Madison from January 1, 1967 to Dec 31, 1972. Mr. Britten also served our country in Europe during WW II Army, serving as a sergeant with the 94th Infantry. Please give a moment of silence for Councilman Britten and other Madisonians we lost in the past year.
Welcome Assemblyman John McKeon and Assemblywoman Mila Jasey, the Vitale and Landrigan families, friends, volunteers and residents of Madison.
Thank you to Father George for your invocation and for Harmonium for the encore performance and a beautiful rendition of our National Anthem and the Girl Scouts for leading our Pledge of Allegiance.
Carmela Vitale and Bob Landrigan it is great to have you continue to work so hard for the residents of Madison. Welcome back to our other returning Council members, Rob Catalanello, Astri Baillie, Ben Wolkowitz and Pat Rowe.
It is hard to believe but this is already my fourth New Year’s message, time flies when you’re having fun!
More importantly, it was 125 years ago when Mayor Albright delivered the first New Year’s message to Madison. As we have heard recently, Madison broke away from Chatham Township, not because of the past but with a look to future. The need to develop our own water system, not just to provide water to the residents but to ensure a reliable source of water to fight fires, and to be able use water on the downtown streets to reduce dust in the summer. In addition to the water utility, the talk in 1890 was the development of an electric company, again the driving force was the business district; with electric street lights we could extend the business during the winter months.
125 years ago, we already knew that we had a special downtown. As I said at our December 8th recognition of 125 years; so much has changed and so much has remained the same.
Over the past year our Council has worked hard on looking to the future and not just managing for today. One step in creating a stronger future happened quietly as we refinanced our long-term debt. With our Council finance experts in residence, Ben Wolkowitz and Rob Catalanello working together with Bond council, Madison will save $1 million over the term of the bonds.
Under the leadership of Councilman Ben Wolkowitz we launched four planning committees: Fiscal Management/Budget, Operations/Communications, Utilities and Capital. The committees are to be commended for their hard work, the first two have already presented and over the next month we will hear from Utilities and Capital. The Council will use the work of the committees to create our path to the future, much like the Borough Council of 125 years ago was creating in 1890.
Speaking of the future, as some you may have seen already on Facebook, 2015 is a special year. It is the year that Doc Brown and Marty Mc Fly traveled to in Back to the Future II. The future view from 1985 had us driving flying cars in this year, regretfully we are still in the world “where the rubber meets the road.” With that in mind, in 2014, we saw one of the greatest years of road reinvestment ever. But as we will hear from the Capital strategic planning committee this is not a one year project, it will be an ongoing challenge to keep up with our roads, as anyone who drives on Ridgedale Ave knows. The phase 1 of the reconstruction of Ridgedale will happen 2015. This project will be partially funded by a grant from New Jersey’s highway trust fund. A partnership that is so valuable, a partnership that is about to run out of money. Please bear with me as a get a quick message in to our Governor and State legislature: If we do not secure a funding source for the Highway Trust Fund, towns across the state will have to put off infrastructure reinvestment and our state, so reliant on the daily commute will fall behind on the road to economic recovery.
Now that I got that off my chest, let me get back to the Borough! In 2015 we will see the next step in the redevelopment of the Green Village Road School. Before year-end KRE will be closing on the property, a sale that will provide the Board of Education with $12 million, capital that can be reinvested in our schools. The redevelopment committee worked very hard to bring us to this point. I want thank Carmela Vitale and Bob Landrigan for their work on this and also Pat Rowe, who at the time was wearing his Board of Ed hat. Together, in what may be unprecedented cooperation between two government entities we not only maximized the value of the property but also created a PILOT that will be a funding source for years to come for both the Borough and the Board of Education.
Not to be forgotten is the fact that $1 million of the sale will be given to the Borough for the Board of Education’s share on the partnership that brought us the turf fields on the MRC. The MRC is a great example of forward thinking. As we look at this property with the fields, community gardens and the passive recreation space with educational trails we are reminded that it was Astri Baillie and Don Bowen who led the charge for the creation of the open space fund. A fund that has leveraged our dimes to receive dollars from the County and State.
As you can see we have a strong team here working for Madison, a team unlike the Jets remains in place from the 2014 season. Just as in 2014, we will not always agree but rest assured we will work together for the future of Madison.
While this room, the beautiful Council Chambers of Hartley Dodge Memorial, was not here for Mayor Albright, his spirit and that of all the previous Mayors and Councilmembers is present here and I think they would be very happy with where Madison is and where we are going.
To all Happy and Healthy New Year!

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer. Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor.

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