SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ – The final Scotch Plains Township Council business meeting of the year was an emotional night for exiting Mayor Kevin Glover and Councilwoman Colleen Gialanella, who both conclude their terms on the governing body this month.
The 90-minute meeting featured a roller coaster of emotions as the Scotch Plains Police Department introduced two new officers to its unit. After the officers were sworn in, there was a special presentation recognizing the restoration of the Shady Rest at the Scotch Plains Country Club, a multi-year project to revitalize a historic landmark in town.
The public portion of the meeting closed with comments on the exiting Council members.
Mayor Glover thanked "the countless people" who helped make his term successful and that, he says, started with his wife, Joanne. He continued by thanking township employees, those in public service and to those that made a positive contribution to the community.
“Today, as I leave, I am proud to report that we have accomplished a great deal,” Glover said. “From effectively dealing with disasters that started with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy to a massive snowstorm that drop a year's worth of snow – 29 inches – in one day, we made the safety of our residents a top priority.”
Glover cited his accomplishments as stabilizing rising municipal taxes, improved township communications, and protecting and preserving local historic landmarks. He said that the township currently stands on solid financial footing for the first time in decades.
“Keeping Scotch Plains’ spirit alive was one of my primary goals and I believe we accomplished that through the inauguration of many community events,” Glover continued. “I believe these events began to frame our downtown as the place to be and to do business, attracting thousands of new visitors to the downtown merchants.
“I’ve been known to see that we can do better and I believe we have,” Glover suggested while admitting there is more work to be done. “I am hopeful that the incoming administration will work to do so and keep us all on the right track.”
He concluded by thanking the public for the opportunity to serve the township.
“Serving this community is among the greatest honors of my lifetime,” said Gialanella. “I would even put this up there with being married to the most incredible husband and my beautiful children, who have sacrificed a lot. I’ve met the most amazing people (on the Council over the last four years.”
Gialanella individually thanked all of the members of the Council and was especially proud of the appointment of Township Manager Al Mirabella.
“I believe that we have someone sitting on the leadership role of this township who cares deeply for the residents of this community,” Gialanella explained. “All of his actions since he’s been here reflect that.”
Among the changes that Gialanella would like to see are improvements to the downtown district. She believes her successors have the tools to excel moving forward and expressed interest in a continuing role in fostering the downtown expansion.
“I want to thank Councilwoman Gialanella for all her support and care for the township residents, and in particular, her support for law enforcement, the fire department and all public safety,” Mirabella said. “She has been a leader in raising awareness for all issues regarding equality, women’s rights and recreation in the Township.”
Mirabella also had words of encouragement for the exiting Mayor.
“I’d like to thank Mayor Glover for his passion and leadership as mayor the past four years and over his long service as a councilman,” Mirabella explained. “I’d like to thank him for his focused support of Scotch Plains Historic treasures, most notably the preservation of Shady Rest."
“Also, for his implementation of town wide events including Independence weekend fireworks, movie nights and car shows. I believe he genuinely cared for Scotch Plains and our residents. I wish him and his wife Joanne all the best in the future.”
Mayor-elect Al Smith and Councilman-elect Ted Spera, both of which were in attendance, will replace Glover’s and Gialanella’s seats on the Council in 2017.
Smith was brief, but offered a statement to the exiting Council members during public comment, echoing Mirabella’s sentiments.
“I wish you both well and thank you for your service to the township,” said Smith. “I know that you’ve been passionate and as the presentation earlier tonight recounts all the good work that you’ve accomplished at the Shady Rest.”
Councilman Jones on Gialanella
“Thank you for your service, I want to thank you as someone from our generation to serve,” said Councilman Llewellyn Jones. “We do this because we enjoy it and want to make a difference, but at the same time when you have a young family, it does make it more challenging and more of a sacrifice.”
Councilman Llewellyn Jones, who also has two children, thanked Gialanella for her services to the township as well as the sacrifices that she made while raising a young family.
“I particularly want to thank you for reaching across party lines when I moved into the minority on Council a few years ago, while reaching out to find common areas of interest,” Jones continued. “You and I both have a passion to move our downtown forward, and I expect that you will remain involved in those efforts in 2017 and beyond.”
Councilman Jones on Glover
“It’s fair to say that we’ve had our differences, but I want to commend you for your passion in serving the community,” said Councilman Llewellyn Jones. “You’ve been integral bringing some new traditions in our township. Thank you for your service and best wishes to your family for a happy and healthy 2017.”