PLAINFIELD, NJ - Mayor Adrian Mapp delivered his State of the City Address to residents on Wednesday, touching on a number of topics.
Mapp began the presentation with an award for an individual from each of the Wards in the city:
- 1st Ward - Nelson Santana, for his help in improving the business district
- 2nd Ward - Mary Burgwinkle, for her civic engagement, her passion for Plainfield's arts, and her work on the Charter Commission
- 3rd Ward - Bob Wilson, for his leadership and acts as a mentor to youth in town
- 4th Ward - Stacey Welch, as a local entrepreneur at LiVay Sweet Shop, who also gives back to the community
Mapp then spoke about public safety, citing statistics that crime in Plainfield decreased by 26% in 2016 vs. 2014, complaints against police officers are down over 50%, and relationships between local police and members of the community are stronger.
In an effort to combat crime, alternatives need to be offered, he noted, including bolstering education and recreation programs. Upgrades to equipment, including computers and GPS in patrol cars, a new rescue squad truck, and faster response to 911 calls have contributed to the positive inroads made by the Public Safety Division.
One of the challenges, Mapp said, in the economic development arena was that back in 2014, the perception was that it was difficult to conduct business in Plainfield. Just three years later, there are 1,200 new residential apartments and over 350,000 square feet of new retail, commercial space.
The JMF Properties' South Avenue Gateway Project, consisting of 212 luxury residential apartments, is expected to be finished in 2018; and The Muse at Grant Avenue Station is a $30 million investment project.
Mapp recognized Hector Acosta, Sr. Vice President, and Nathalia Giraldo, Vice President, of The 504 Company, that has entered into a partnership with the city to create a 504 Plainfield Loan Fund Program allocating $10 million dollars in loan funds to provide financial assistance to local businesses.
The city achieved a tax collection rate over 97% in 2016, and property values have increased over eight percent from 2014 to 2016. Looking ahead, Mapp said that in 2017, the city will maintain a tax collection rate of at least 97%, and deliver the budget to the city council on time.
The mayor spoke more on improvements and enhancements in programs at the Recreation Department, with over 80 programs offered in 2016 alone. The administration will be embarking on a feasibility and implementation study to maximize the use of the Hannah Atkins Center "as a place for recreational, educational and entrepreneurial training." And it will complete the building of the Madison Avenue Skate Park.
Mapp finally introduced his "Plainfield Promise" initiative by offering a personal story of his life growing up poor, in a household without a father, often going to school hungry.
Plainfield Promise will establish a bank account, with up to $500, for every child starting school in the City of Plainfield. The program will challenge high school students to graduate and get accepted to college, and for those who cannot afford higher education, it will pay for enrollment at Union County College or a trade school. Details on how the program will be funded will be announced at a later date.
Mapp then concluded the presentation by stating his excitement for Plainfield's future.