CALDWELL, NJ - TAP Into will be speaking with government officials, as well as civic and community leaders to discuss plans, goals and projects for 2015.
This week, TAP spoke with Caldwell Mayor Ann Dassing (R).
Q: What are a few of your biggest priorities for 2015?
A: Some of the larger priorities of my administration for 2015 include, delivering a budget that keeps taxes low without sacrificing services; completing the Master Plan update to hopefully incorporate historic properties, better, more accurate zones and a blueprint that brings Caldwell into a sustainable future; completion of a town wide revaluation, as mandated by the County; continuing to provide public safety in both the residential and commercial districts; pursuing funding for infrastructure projects such as the Pine Brook erosion problems; studying the possibility of a Special Improvement District for our downtown.
Q: What do you need financially to accomplish your priorities?
A: Many of the priorities above are part of a larger plan, which requires financing over many years, and so, because we have planned for these projects, the funding should be there to complete the projects and reach the goals.
Q: What level of community involvement do you need or expect? How should the community best get involved?
A: We have subscribed to a brand new system, called SEECLICKFIX, which will enable the community to be proactive in their suggestions for making Caldwell a better place to live, work and raise a family. Through SEECLICKFIX, with a smartphone, a resident can take a photo of something that needs to be fixed, open the app on their phone and report it. The issue will be routed to the correct department and the resident will be updated every step of the way until the issue is resolved. I think this will help all residents to feel they are a part of making our town the best it can be, while giving them visibility to all Town Hall departments.
The re-evaluation will get every property owner involved, as trained personnel will be visiting every home and structure in Caldwell and recording interiors, as well as property size and location. This process will be very community related and we encourage feedback from all residents as we go through it.
We are always looking for volunteers who might be interested in serving on a Board or Commission. This is a great way to also feel like you are an integral part of the whole process.
Q: How will this project benefit your organization or members of the community?
A: I think you can use the SeeClickFix as an example of a project that will benefit the community. We also have contracted with a company, called CodeRed, which will be able to send voice, text, and email messages to all our residents in the event of an emergency due to weather, a road closure, etc. We used the system to send a message to residents before the snow that fell right before Thanksgiving and many residents expressed their delight at receiving a phone call and felt that Town Hall was concerned about their welfare. This is what we wish to convey to everyone, and this is a great use of technology to get our word out there and to help residents feel they matter, which of course, they do!
Q: Pick a specific goal or project – what does it mean to you personally?
A: Since I was elected in 2004, public safety has been high on the personal goals for me. Public safety means giving the tools to our Police and Fire personnel, as well as improving infrastructure like replacing old water mains, so the firemen can fight a fire when needed, or holding fire safety seminars in the high rises. It takes on many forms and I am personally interested in keeping our residents as safe and secure as we are able.
Q: What is the approximate timeline for implementation of any of these projects?
A: We are already working on the 2015 budget and hope to have a draft by The beginning of Q2.
The SeeClickFix will be done by the end of Q1 this year, as will some of the technology we will be installing in the police cars and gear that we are purchasing for the Volunteer fire department. Water main replacement is long term plan, as we do about three streets a year, so I would estimate at least three years before that is complete. The Pine Brook erosion issue is depending on funding from FEMA, so that will take some time. The Master Plan and re-evaluation will be done by end of the year, 2015, and we hope the SID study will also be complete by the end of 2015.