Mayor’s Remarks – City ReOrganizational Meeting – January 7th
Mayor Huttle Remarks
City Re-Organizational Meeting
Tuesday, January 7, 2014 @6.30PM
Welcome again to the 2014 City of Englewood reorganization meeting.
I am pleased that we are joined by the Council, Department Chiefs, employees and so many members of our community.
As we begin the New Year, we also enter a new era for our City.
Four years ago, I was elected to lead Englewood and the next year, I was chosen to lead our governing body, the City Council.
I am grateful to our residents and the Council for your confidence in me and I am proud of what we have accomplished together.
I ran for Mayor with a simple goal in mind: to decrease spending and increase services.
I knew we could do this by reforming the way our government operates.
I was elected at a critical time for Englewood.
Taxes had doubled in the previous 10 years and had gone up almost 50% in the previous five.
On top of that, our City was feeling the impacts of the economic downturn coupled with a reduction in state aid.
While other municipalities hoped to merely pull their towns out of troubled times, I believed that we could do more.
We had an opportunity to set Englewood on a path of revitalization and we have done that.
We applied the fiscal discipline of the business world to the functioning of government and it is working.
With the help of the Board of Education in 2010, we improved the school budget so that we were able to decrease spending by $5 million while putting more money into our classrooms and getting teachers back to work.
We have transformed our Boards and Commissions – the EEDC, the Planning Board, the Board of Adjustment and others – by bringing in residents who are leaders in their own right to share their expertise and knowledge with the City. I created the first Budget and Finance Commission comprising of members of the Council and business leaders ushering in a wave of budget reform we have now witnessed over past years.
As we saw taxes rising in communities around us, we delivered successive budgets that had no new taxes and we fought to cut spending and improve services.
We created a new and comprehensive Master Plan that will bring Englewood into the future and will serve our community for years to come.
We made changes that improve the quality of life for residents, such as enhanced snow clean-up during storms and free holiday parking.
We also worked efficiently to help residents during Superstorm Sandy and other major storms.
Most importantly, we made strides in bringing Englewood together as a community.
I have often used the phrase, Englewood One Community, because I believe that Englewood is at its best when our residents are united.
We saw this during Sandy, at the dedication of our 9/11 Memorial, at our annual holiday celebrations, and most recently at the reopening of the John T. Wright Arena.
As you know, I have not been afraid to speak my mind when I felt we could do better for the people of Englewood.
That passion for our City is something that the Council and I share.
While we may differ in approach, we all want to do what is best for the City now and in the future.
In the coming year, I look forward to working together with the Council to build upon our successes.
The economic stability of Englewood depends on rebuilding our downtown, by helping to bring new tenants into storefronts and making downtown a destination for residents across Bergen County.
I am committed to bringing Light Rail to Englewood in a way that offers our residents regional transportation access while preserving our assets.
A critical aspect of downtown renewal is enhancing our police services there and in the rest of the City.
I plan to work to improve public safety working alongside Police Chief Suffern and to effectively manage costs to help us make our police department more efficient and better equipped to meet 21st century challenges.
We are exploring the use of auxiliary police, which we have seen in many New Jersey communities.
Within our Emergency Management Structure, we are working to implement the lessons we have learned from Sandy and other storms in recent years.
I’m pleased to announce the appointment of Bryan Krane as Municipal Emergency Management Coordinator succeeding Chief Suffern, who has served admirably in this role.
I am also pleased to announce the creation of the Englewood Local Emergency Management Council with Bryan Krane as its Chairman.
In 2014, we must keep in mind our goal of reforming and reinventing the way our city government operates as we move forward with the new Master Plan, enhance education and opportunities for our youth, consider consolidation measures, and improve our open spaces.
There are 5 main areas of revitalization that I want residents to be aware of, and be engaged in, in the coming year.
As I mentioned, Englewood has a new Master Plan to guide us as we build our City’s future.
This is the product of a multi-year collaborative process that brought together over 1000 individuals, their ideas, and their collective vision.
We are reaching a major milestone in the process-rolling out the plan for public discussion and approval at the January 23d Planning Board Meeting. This meeting will also serve as a Town Meeting to bring everyone together to build our city’s future.
I hope to see you all there.
The second big issue before us, which is linked to our Master Plan, is bringing Light Rail to Englewood.
This is a long-term goal that has been a long-time coming.
Englewood is in a unique position to be a leader on Light Rail, as the City will host the end of line.
While we can greatly benefit from Light Rail, that is only true if we do it right.
I will soon create a Light Rail Commission with the EEDC and Mayors along the Light Rail Line that will monitor the progress and the impacts of Light Rail in Englewood, keeping our City’s best interest in mind.
I have already begun working with the Mayors of the other towns that would be on the Northern Branch so that we can plan and advocate for our regional needs.
In terms of redevelopment, we have finally moved beyond the planning stages for the Lincoln School and the old firehouse sites.
I prioritized these sites last year and now we are on the road to successful redevelopment that I hope to complete this year.
As part of our City’s improvement process, we have enhanced our parks, green spaces, downtown street-scapes, and public spaces.
MacKay Park has benefitted from this program, and I look forward to expanding it to other community spaces in 2014.
Finally, as I discussed, we will continue to build our Englewood One Community.
Our City is diverse and vibrant. That diversity is our strength.
We saw it as residents from across the City came together to sit on the John T. Wright Arena Task Force.
Their collective efforts allowed us to reopen the Arena and restarted the process that will make it a recreational hub for all residents of our community.
On Sunday, The Record’s editorial on the reopening reminded us of the mission of the Arena Task Force and of our City in how we move forward: The Arena must offer “affordable, all-season recreational options and educational opportunities to all of Englewood’s residents.”
I look forward to working with the Council to ensure that we make good on that promise, particularly for our youth.
I know we can do it because our recent track record proves that when we come together and work together as one community there is nothing that we cannot accomplish.
In making so much progress in the past year and looking towards the coming year, I think of a hero and legend in our City, the great Councilman Jack Drakeford, after whom our new firehouse will be named.
Jack had a love for this City that is hard to replicate, but we all shared that with him and it is that dedication that will stay with us as we move forward.
I am honored that the Council chose me to serve as Council President for the past three years.
It was the first and only time the Mayor was chosen to serve in this dual role.
In doing so, the Council enabled me to lead our City in a historic way that fit the historic challenges facing our community.
I am humbled and thankful for that opportunity.
And I am now so pleased to turn the position over to my friend and colleague, Councilwoman-At-Large, Lynne Algrant.
Lynne and I joined Englewood government together in 2010 because we saw our City going in the wrong direction.
In the past 4 years, Englewood has changed course and we could not have done that without Lynne’s commitment and good judgment.
She is a champion for our youth, our children’s education, our environment, and our most vulnerable residents.
We share a vision that Englewood can be one community and I look forward to working with her as Council President and the entire Council. I wish everyone all the best for a Happy New Year.
Mayor Frank Huttle III
Above are my remarks from the reorganizational meeting of the City Council Tuesday night. It was truly a night to remember with the appointment of our new Chief of Police, Lawrence Suffern. Chief Suffern is a lifelong Englewood resident and has been Deputy Chief for some time now. The Chief is succeeding our outgoing Chief of Police Arthur O’Keefe who has served the City of Englewood with great distinction and to whom we all owe a debt of gratitude. Council members Cohen and Hamer were sworn in for a new term and Lynne Algrant was sworn in as Council President.