Mayor’s Remarks – Council Meeting January 29, 2013
I wanted to share my remarks from the Council Meeting on January 29th for those of you who were not able to attend.
Mayor Frank Huttle
Council Meeting – January 29, 2013
Tonight we have two very important capital projects that are before the Council for a vote of Introduction. Both capital projects are located in the 4th Ward and long overdue.
The first is the Restoration of the Overpeck Creek Channel Wall. Some parts of the channel wall are supported by one hundred year old concrete and are ready to fail, while other areas have already failed. What has resulted is a dangerous situation that jeopardizes the private property on William Street and greatly enhances the risk of flooding. I have worked on the project to secure funding for over three years and two County Executives and Freeholder Boards. I am pleased that Bergen County has provided the City with a Grant in the amount of $550,000 which enabled the City to really start the project moving.
The second capital project is the restoration and enhancement of MacKay Park and the John T. Wright Ice Arena.
Both of these projects come before the Council this evening as a Bond Ordinance to provide critical capital funding. I am asking the Council tonight to vote in favor of the introduction of this Bond Ordinance which will allow full and transparent government so that all residents of the community can participate in full public hearings to hear the facts on the needs of the City in an unfiltered manner. Introduction of this Ordinance will allow for a full and open public discussion, education session, and debate on the City’s need.
In particular, as to the needs of MacKay Park and the John T. Wright Ice Arena, this is all part of a larger goal, which I have had since my first days in office, to restore MacKay Park to be a showpiece of the City as well as a center of programming and activity for our children, year round, during school hours and after 3:00.
My goal in not about “Ice” in “Isolation”, rather it is about a full complement of athletic programs for our children. The John T. Wright Ice Arena must be a year round facility for our children and I do not support anything short of this.
To make sure we serve our community, we must embrace the community to hear their views, their opinions on how we best can serve our children, especially when it comes to Mackay Park. So the question is how to do it?
Number One. Tonight I ask the council to vote to introduce the Ordinance so that the residents see the needs unfiltered and can weigh the facts independently. I want to emphasize that voting for introducing does not mean any Council Member is ultimate going to support this project.
Number Two. On Monday, February 11th, at 6:30 p.m., I am pleased to announce a Town Meeting on MacKay Park, including the John T. Wright Arena, at the Community Baptist Church. I invite all to attend, participate and let your voices be heard. My special thanks goes to Reverend Taylor who once again has generously opened the doors of the Church for the Community as a whole. This Town Meeting will follow a similar format of the highly successful master plan meetings. In this case, parents, grandparents and children can share their opinions on the needs of Mackay and how best to provide programs for our children.
Number Three. On Tuesday, February 12, at 7:30PM, pending introduction tonight, this Capital Project will be on the City Council Agenda to allow the Council to fully discuss the ordinance and allow for modifications if necessary. Public participation is welcome and I urge all to attend.
Number Four. On Tuesday, February 24th at 7.30PM the Public Hearing and vote on the Ordinance will be held.
There is an old saying that from crisis comes opportunity. We have had a crisis in MacKay Park and the John T. Wright Ice Arena both from Superstorm Sandy and years of neglect, but we also have an opportunity. The opportunity is to invest and make these assets centers of programming and activity all year round, and take the first concrete step for a Community Center using our existing facilities to develop and promote programs for our kids.
In partnership with the City, the Boys and Girls Club will develop, coordinate and administer programs year round benefiting the residents of the City of Englewood. This includes most importantly Sports and Recreational Programs, Educational Programs and Programs designed to meet the specific needs of Teens and Youth of the City of Englewood.
With respect to the John T. Wright Arena, there will be much more than several months of ice for hockey teams to use from other communities. There will be a leading ice figure skating program, children’s ice program and much more during the ice season, and then 9 months more of programs for our children. When the ice season is over, the switch will be turned to new programs at the John T. Wright Arena and MacKay Park.
My further goal for Mackay Park, is to create a structure of private funding that will keep it and its programming running indefinitely. Lynne and I have started this work. And we have received the first leadership gift for our public school children – a generous donation from the Benzel-Busch Motor Car Company that has enabled the work of the Laureus Foundation and Coaches Across America.
I ask that the resident stay tuned and also weigh in as we move through this process. I again invite everyone to attend the town hall meeting on February 11th at 6.30PM at the Community Baptist Church and look forward to a lively discussion there.