Mayor James P. Dodd
37 N. Sussex Street
Dover, NJ 07801
Tel: 973-366-2200 ext. 1144
Mayor James P. Dodd
(Term Ending on December 31, 2019)
2017 Mayor's Town Address
Good afternoon and Happy New Year!
I would like to acknowledge the dignitaries here today, Reverend, Clergy, Judge Maenza, Assemblyman Anthony M. Bucco, Freeholder Douglas R. Cabana & Deborah Smith, Sheriff James M. Gannon, Public Defenders Gerald Kelly and Robert Cascone, Elected Officials, and Past Members of the Board of Aldermen.
I want to acknowledge the many people who work to make progress in our Town. Let me start with the members of the Board of Aldermen. Their willingness to take time, care, and attention to the issues facing our Town has been inspiring. Mike Picciallo, Bill O’Connor, Tom MacDonald, Cindy Romaine, Jim Visioli, Carolyn Blackman, Steve Toth, and Ron Camacho -- please join me in giving them a round of applause.
I also want to acknowledge and thank our valued Town officials who work tirelessly to bring my and this Board’s vision into a reality for the residents of this Town: Town Administrator, Town Clerk, Town Attorney, Department Directors, Representatives from the Police and Fire Service.
And I want to thank the community partners who are integral to the Town’s work. Nonprofits, clergy, civic leaders -- many of you we work with on a weekly if not daily basis, and we appreciate your passion for our Town.
Dear Fellow Residents and Friends:
Before I start my State of the Town address I’m going to do things a little differently this year then past and while it may be boring to some I’m going to incorporate some statistics from a few of our departments because I’m extremely proud of this board, administration and especially our employees who aren’t often recognized for the hard work they do and so today I have that opportunity to not only recognize them but also thank them.
Two thousand sixteen was a transitional year, full of positive changes and new beginnings for the Town of Dover. During 2016, christened as the Year of the Senior, we accomplished much and we look forward to 2017 with excitement and anticipation.
For my eleventh consecutive year as Mayor, this Administration has delivered a balanced budget with increased municipal services and minimal tax implications. In fact, Dover’s taxes remained flat for the 2016 tax year. Dover continues to lead Morris County with the lowest taxes of any full service community. During the year, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services raised its rating on the Town's existing general obligation bonds to 'AA-' from 'A+', citing Dover's improving and sustained financial position.
Our pledge to the residents of Dover is that this trend will continue in 2017 and beyond.
In accordance with a mandate from the State of New Jersey, the Town completed a full reassessment with inspections of all real property for the tax year 2016. All tax list items were revalued for tax year 2016 to reflect current market value as of October 1, 2015. Not only has the reassessment resulted in an equalized valuation, but there were reduction in both the quantity of appeals, tax credits and amount of appeals filed at the State Tax Court for 2016.
Most importantly, the Town added the for-profit Dover St. Clares Hospital to the tax rolls for a full year, resulting in additional revenue of $217,666 dollars
As part of this Administration’s continued commitment to revitalizing the tax base and reenergizing our community, Redevelopment efforts in 2016 were in full effect.
Currently ready to break ground is the Meridia Transit Plaza a 214 1 and 2 bedroom complex full of amenities with a pedestrian plaza for town events and the public to enjoy,
Dover Business College Redevelopment, the conversion of a vacant building to a 1 and 2 bedroom complex, including the restoration of the facade to mirror what it once was.
Guenther Mill Redevelopment, all approvals are complete and construction started during the month of December to covert this building into a 1, 2 & 3 bedroom loft style apartment complex with all top of the line amenities including a pedestrian plaza on King St. along with the restoration of the large arched windows, bringing the building back to its historic nature.
Pennrose Lot B and & Pennrose Lot D redevelopment projects are in the final negotiation stages
Our second extended stay hotel is currently under construction, expected to open the first quarter of 2017. Once completed this 102 room Marriott, which is located on our formal landfill, will provide revenue both from property taxes and from a reoccurring occupancy tax.
We are driving improvements that will keep us uniquely Dover – hard working, active and vibrant – for generations to come. In addition to these Redevelopment efforts, in 2016, the Town invested in Capital Improvement Projects totaling nearly $5 million.
These projects include:
1. Perry Street Roadway Improvements.
2. Randolph Ave Roadway Improvements..
3. Thompson Ave. Roadway Improvements.
4. 2016 Bond Project – King St., Cooper St., Jackson Ave., Christopher St., Spring St., Ann St., Fox Hill Dr., Rockridge Ter., Edgewood Ter., Elliot St. & Park Heights Ave. Roadway Improvements.
5. 2016 Bond Project 2 – Watson Drive & Kyle Drive Roadway Improvements.
6. We are in the process of installing a Town Hall backup Generator.
7. Waterworks Bridge & Town Hall Walkway Repairs.
8. Town Hall Bathroom Renovation Upgrades.
9. 2016 Water Meter Replacement Program
Perhaps most impressive of all was the design and oversight of the JFK Park Holiday Decorations, Electric and Sound Installation, a display that is being talked about by residents and non-residents alike throughout the State.
Our annual tree lighting event, which featured school and church choruses, holiday charters, snow machines and of course Santa himself, attracted more than 1,500 participants. And for the entire holiday season, visitors young and old visited Dover’s Winter Wonderland. Children enjoyed visits with Santa while hundreds of delighted visitors took pictures and selfies with the all the life size ornaments and displays.
Our departments have had an extraordinary year of production and efficiency, yet still meeting the increasing demands and expectations of our residents.
In 2016, the Dover Water Department responded to over 2000 service requests and over 1000 utility mark-outs. Many repairs have been made to the pumping facilities to improve safety, redundancy and reliability. We replaced 650 water meters, repaired/replaced 8 Fire Hydrants, installed markers to help locate those hard to find fire hydrants, maintained our buildings and grounds, installed and replaced 30 water services, repaired 40 water valves/curb boxes and read 27,000 water meters. We also repaired 40 water leaks and reduced water pumping by 100 Million Gallons compared to last year.
The Water Department is in the process of developing a comprehensive water master plan. The master plan will help to prioritize water system improvement projects and get them completed in an efficient and cost effective manner.
Perhaps most important on the horizon for 2017, we are slated to finalize the replacement of every old and outdated water meter in our service area with new meters that can be read remotely by radio signal. In doing so, the entire Town can be read in a few days and billing can be streamlined and uniform and easier for residents.
In 2016, the Health Department, which operates as a shared service with the Township of Mount Olive, and the Boroughs of Wharton and Mount Arlington, provided health and wellness services to the residents of Dover.
The Health Department’s Vital Statistics Program issued 1,296 birth, marriage, & death certificates for $84,125 in revenue. An expanded garbage & recycling enforcement effort led to 733 violation notices, 324 court summons and an estimated $25,000 in fines. The retail food surveillance and inspections (program of sanitary inspections of licensed retail food establishments) conducted 144 inspections of retail food establishments and 7 plan reviews of retail food establishments. The Department continues to track and monitor the spread of communicable diseases, including the zika virus. The Animal Control & Rabies Control Program, a shared service with the Township of Randolph, responded to 59 complaints and investigated 16 dog bites. Finally, the Department continued its lead poisoning prevention program and inspected massage parlors in town, which resulted in 30 court summons.
During the year of the Senior, the Public Health Nurse provided vaccinations to over 90 Dover Seniors.
The highlight of the 2016 Health Department was the Mayor’s Spring Health and Wellness Fair. The Fair, which ran the length of North Sussex Street in front of Town Hall, was well attended and had over 70 vendors.
2017 will see an expansion of the shared services agreement with the Township of Mount Olive by moving the public health nursing program under that agreement. By doing so, the Town will notice increased efficiency, immediate budgetary savings and expanded services.
In early 2016, this governing body created the Department Economic Development and Community Affairs, which has dedicated its efforts to enhancing the economic vitality of Dover and increasing community outreach.
Since its inception, this Department has facilitated meetings with the business community, reestablished communication with civic partners, worked on involving local businesses in our annual events, functioned as the Town liaison between Town partners and residents and helped organize and promote new initiatives. In attending any of our many events this year, it is evident that we are branding, promoting and developing programs that attract new visitors, while providing residents with great family programs that you can be proud of.
Beautification, transformation and promotion of our downtown business district have been staples of this Administration. In conjunction with Redevelopment efforts, our staff is hard at work attracting new sustainable businesses and national franchises to our downtown area. These efforts will bear fruit in 2017 & beyond. We are on the brink of the creation of a Business Improvement District in our downtown area. Key to this metamorphosis is the concept and application of public-private partnerships that merge public and private management technologies, public entrepreneurship, and social capital.
While this Board and I had the foresight to create a Department that could focus on economic development, outreach and marketing, we also revamped existing departments critical to quality of life issues.
The Department of Public Works received a complete organizational overhaul. A new director, Mr. Frank Dann with over 40 years of experience, was hired at the beginning of the year. He helped to develop a new table of organization and enhance training programs. The new TO has created a direct line of accountability and efficiency.
The table of organization begins with the General Supervisor who is in charge of the overall daily physical operation of the department. Reporting to the General Supervisor are 4 Supervisors: Road Supervisor, Sewer Supervisor, Buildings and Grounds Supervisor, and Mechanic Supervisor.
In addition to revamping the organizational structure, this Board continued its efforts to equip the Department with the best available equipment to do the job:
Two new large all-wheel drive dump trucks were purchased. They were outfitted with larger snow plows and salt spreaders. The larger capacity truck will hold more salt so that the truck will make fewer trips to the DPW yard to fill up.
A new tool/utility truck was purchased. All the tools necessary to complete most jobs are stored on this vehicle so the supervisor has to make fewer trips to the yard for specific tools.
A state of the art crack sealer machine was purchased. Cracks in pavement eventually appear due to the change in weather conditions and the degrading of the pavement. When cracks appear, water penetrates the pavement and creates voids, which eventually form potholes. Sealing cracks will preserve the integrity, extend the life of the pavement and reduce potholes. A crack sealing team can be seen traversing the Town when the weather permits.
In 2016 a new bucket truck was ordered for minor tree trimming, building maintenance, holiday decorations and much more and its scheduled for delivery in the month of March.
The use of this equipment will ensure the safe and efficient work being done in the air and off of the ground.
During the year 2016, the Dover Police Department continued its transformation into a more structured, functional and modernized law enforcement agency. This was achieved by implementing new policing strategies, hiring new officers, filling supervisor vacancies by promotion, employing new policies/procedures and programs, acquiring new equipment, obtaining advanced training, and restructuring the command staff.
A Community Policing model of patrol operations, designed to enhance interaction with the public and business community, and focus on quality of life issues such as motor vehicle and parking violations, loitering, public drunkenness, illegal drug use, prostitution, etc., was instituted.
The police department also activated a Bicycle Patrol Unit. New patrol bicycles and uniforms were acquired for several officers, who received specialized training in this field. They are deployed on a regular basis in the downtown area and municipal parks to bolster community policing efforts.
Additionally, the department has begun transitioning from reactive to proactive policing. This is being achieved by officers spending down time clearing open arrest warrants by aggressively pursuing fugitives from justice.
In January 2016, six new police officers were hired. They successfully completed basic training at the Morris County Public Safety Training Academy, graduating in May. Their presence on the street since graduation has resulted in increased enforcement of traffic and motor vehicle laws in the downtown area, arrests for quality of life issues, and more positive interaction with the public and business community, thereby fulfilling some of the community policing goals.
In February 2016, five veteran police officers were promoted to the rank of sergeant to fill previously vacant supervisory positions. These sergeants were assigned to supervise the four patrol squads and the detective bureau. Additionally, the senior sergeant was promoted to the rank of lieutenant, and currently serves as the Chief Law Enforcement Officer of the department, managing day to day activities and operations.
In August 2016, a new Public Safety Director was hired to fill the vacant position. Daniel DeGroot, a retired Captain from the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office with over 26 years of law enforcement experience, was hired to oversee the department and to facilitate efforts to enhance the overall structure, professionalism, training and effectiveness of the agency and its officers.
In December 2016, a new police officer was hired to replace a recently retired officer. This officer came to the department already trained, and therefore did not need to attend the six-month long police academy training. As a result, he will be able to begin patrol duties immediately upon completing his field training program, thereby furthering the community policing goals noted above.
Several new Class II Special Law Enforcement Officers were also added to the police roster this year. There are presently three Class II officers assigned to the patrol division, enhancing law enforcement efforts directed in the downtown area with foot patrols. Two additional Class II officers are under consideration to join the ranks in 2017.
In order to function as a premier department, this Board continues to ensure that the Dover Police Department has premier equipment.
The police radio system, inclusive of car and portable radios, was upgraded this year to enhance communications and response time.
Additionally, two new police cars were purchased. They are 4-wheel drive SUV’s outfitted with state-of-the art equipment to enhance policing efforts.
New uniforms, gun belts and firearms (handguns and rifles), were also acquired, providing personnel with the means to do their job in a safe, professional, and effective manner.
The police department was accredited in 2015, and throughout 2016, several new policies and procedures designed to provide operational and administrative guidance and maintain professional standards, were employed.
In September 2016, the police department joined the Morris County Narcan Program, wherein police officers received specialized training in the use of Narcan, a nasally-administered drug that counteracts the effects of heroin and opioids in overdose victims. Since the inception of the program, several lives have been saved in Dover by our police officers.
Additionally, revitalization of the LEAD (Law Enforcement Against Drugs) program in the Dover schools was initiated during a meeting between police and school officials. This program involves awareness training about the dangers of illegal drugs. It is an effective tool to keep youths away from substance abuse and its devastating effects. Efforts are being made to institute this program in 2017.
Finally, community outreach groups were engaged to develop a close working relationship, and offer them services such as training for their employees (street gang and drug awareness, etc.), and programs for their clientele such as child safety seat inspections, etc.
Throughout the year, police department personnel received advanced training in various topics. The new sergeants and command staff received training in supervision, management and leadership to prepare them to effectively and efficiently lead the department forward through its transformation.
Additionally, all police officers received tactical operations training from the Morris County tactical team. The training involved tactical firearms drills, building maneuvering/clearing techniques, and other tactical exercises. This training is designed to better prepare officers to respond safely and effectively to critical incidents, such as an active shooter.
To further train and prepare for these incidents, department command staff met with members of the Dover Board of Education and St. Clare’s Hospital/Dover Campus to develop close working relationships. As a result, school and hospital officials provided detailed maps and diagrams of their buildings, and offered access to their facilities to conduct training to familiarize officers with the layouts. This will enable law enforcement to better respond to emergencies at these locations.
In 2017, the Dover Police Department will continue to transform into a highly functional and professional organization. This will be achieved through the following measures:
• Drafting and implementing new operational and administrative policies/procedures, and acquiring relevant, meaningful training.
• Continuation of proactive policing strategies, such as directing officers to spend down time clearing open arrest warrants, conducting directed traffic enforcement operations, DWI patrols, etc., and actively targeting known offenders engaging in ongoing criminal conduct.
• Increased community policing deployments that deal consistently with quality of life concerns and interact with the public, business community and civic groups.
• Fostering positive working relationships with the faith-based community. There are almost 30 such entities in Dover serving our community.
• Collaboration with incoming Morris County Sheriff James Gannon to address the heroin/opioid epidemic through coordinated education, enforcement and intervention efforts.
• Consideration will be given to starting a new unit in the department to carry out special projects, where officers can focus on unique problem areas and concerns outside normal patrol operations. This will enhance the department’s ability to successfully address certain, specific quality of life issues and ongoing criminal activity.
• Officers will continue to develop and refine their tactical abilities through regular training with the County tactical team, and attending schools that specialize in this discipline.
• Regarding staffing, as several senior police officers approach possible retirement in 2017, candidates to fill potential vacancies will be sought out and researched.
• Lastly, renovation of the entire police department, to upgrade and modernize its facilities, is in the planning stages, with one project already started:
a. The first floor “Break Room” has been outfitted with state of the art audio/video equipment to serve as an Interview Room for the Patrol Division.
b. Work is soon to begin for a similar renovation to the entire second floor of the building, including the stairwell, and the locker room in the basement;
c. The remainder of the first floor will be undergoing significant work, which will involve redesigning the lobby and dispatch desk area to make it more functional for personnel and hospitable to the public.
Much like our Police Department, the Dover Fire Department remains strong and ready to meet every challenge.
It was a difficult year for the Dover Fire Department with the loss of Chief Richard Mattison, who was serving an unprecedented 5th term as Department Chief when he unexpectedly passed away. He was not only a leader, but a true friend to everyone who knew him. Chief Mattison’s passing left the Department with many jobs to fill, including the position of Chief. We are proud of the way the members rallied to fill those vacancies to keep the Department running smoothly during this tragic time.
The Fire Department received two new vehicles: a 2016 1500 GPM Pumper and a 2016 Chevy Tahoe Chief’s vehicle. The new Pumper replaced an aging truck that no longer met industry standards for first-line firefighting. The addition of these vehicles allows the Dover Fire Department to keep its firefighting abilities up to date to better serve our community.
This year’s heavy call volume reveals it was another busy year for the Fire Department, who answered over 2400 fire and EMS calls. Additionally, Department personnel spent over 1200 man-hours training to keep apprised of, and put into practice, the latest firefighting techniques to extinguish fires as safely and efficiently as possible.
With the number of volunteers decreasing, the Fire Department is working with the Public Safety Director and Town Administration and exploring various staffing alternatives to ensure sufficient coverage on all medical calls. The goal is to have two EMT’s on-shift 24/7, which will better serve the EMS needs of the citizens of Dover. A final plan is expected to be put into place in early 2017.
And finally, to improve the efficiency and day-to-day operation of the Department’s Uniformed Division, work is underway to fill the vacant Captain position with one of the current firefighters. This will provide for daily supervision in the Department, and expedite the completion and implementation of updated policies, procedures, and training protocols that have been under revision for quite some time.
2016 was dubbed the Year of the Senior. In addition to our investment in services, we have also made sure to celebrate and recognize our most treasured residents - - - - our beloved Senior Citizens.
We introduced the “Coffee with Seniors” information sessions, which brought prominent guests discussing relevant senior topics such as retirement investment, senior health and scams targeting seniors. Special thanks to the NJ Labor Department, Morris County Surrogate’s office, St. Clare Health and Valley National Bank for proving speakers.
During the summer, our senior residents were magically transported to a special Senior Prom with the theme a “Starry Night.” The event was complete with all the traditional high school dance pomp and circumstance and brought out 200 dancing seniors.
Our extremely popular Senior Picnic, which celebrated its 35th anniversary, saw an increase in participants thanks to better outreach, more community partners, and added amenities.
We kept Seniors busy with bus trips, summer recreational excursions, visits to Museums, shopping at outlets and the ever popular Casino bus trip.
In keeping with our theme, we hosted a retro style Drive-in movie night which drew large crowds and had us all reminiscing of leather jackets, hot rods and summer love.
All this and more made 2016 a truly great year for Dover Seniors!!
John F. Kennedy once said, “Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.” To ensure their success we are going to dedicate 2017 to the growth, well-being and development of our children.
Accordingly, 2017 shall be known in Dover as the Year of the Youth.
During the Year of the Youth we will focus on developing new programs, activities and events geared toward empowering, enriching and supporting the lives of our children.
We will begin by creating a Youth Council that will consist of volunteer High School students that will meet regularly to address youth issues in Dover. Every generation, for as long as anyone can remember, adults are reminded by their kids that we just don’t understand or that we just don’t listen. Well, we are creating the Youth Council in hopes of better understanding and having a dialogue on the topics that really matter to our youth.
We are currently taking applications for the Council and encourage students who really want to make a difference to apply. The Recreation Department will facilitate the meetings and help the Council to implement their recommendations.
While our Youth Council meets, we will organize and develop programs focused on our youth throughout the year.
Studies have shown that healthier children do better in school and have less health issues as adults. So we put together some ideas to help children and their families stay healthy.
We will bring back our successful Mayor's Spring Health and Wellness Fair and focus on providing families the information and tools they need to stay healthy and active.
We will revive the very popular Mayor’s Basketball Tournament to help bring about team building and exercise.
Taking a page from a popular Colombian initiative, called La Ciclovía, we will host our very own Bike Rodeo. Families will be able to ride bicycles on traffic free streets and enjoy different exercise stations along the way. Our Police department will be on hand to inspect bicycles for safety and give bike helmets to children as part of our Community Police program.
Last year we introduced Open Play Time at Crescent Field to encourage more residents to use the field. This year we will expand the Open Play Time hours for the Spring and Summer months. In addition, we will host Field Days where we will organize activities for children of all ages. We will partner with local organizations and help children stay active and strong.
While we work on strengthen bodies, we also want to develop their minds and creativity.
We will have Craft Days throughout the year where young children and their parents can work on a themed craft to build and take home.
Working with Shaping Dover, a coalition of non-profit organizations, we will expand their popular Game Board night and help children unplug their electronics and re-plug their minds.
For our thespian minded teens, we will work with The Dover Little Theater to host an entire production arranged by Dover youth.
If painting is more your child’s preference, we have a paint with mommy for the younger children and be an Artist for the day event for our teens. Learn how to paint on canvas similar to the very popular Wine and paint classes for adults, without the wine of course.
And of course, we will offer our Summer youth program at Water Works Park. Last year we added a STEAM component to the program and will expand it this Summer to encourage math, science and engineering to both boys and girls.
To help them prepare for school, we will give out school book bags for students. We will partner with local businesses and agencies to provide age appropriate book bags and school supplies. A better prepared student is a more focused and attentive one.
Encouraging civic engagement early in life leads to civic minded adults. This year we will host two town wide clean-up activities to help keep our environment clean. We will team up with local businesses and agencies to clean our open space and natural resources.
We already started our anti-litter campaign with our Town sponsored leagues. Our “Cool Down, Pick Up” campaign encourages coaches to have athletes pick-up litter on our fields and facilities during their cool down session. The Recreation Department also gave teams free water bottles for all players, to reduce the plastic waste from popular water and sport drinks.
Helping our children stay healthy during sport activities is priority. To prevent unnecessary and long term injuries, we will team up with St. Clare's Health System to bring classes and seminars to our coaches and youth athletes. These educational and instructive sessions will cover on and off the field safety, the truth about concussions and long term health for young, active athletes.
We have also invested in new software that will help all our coaches and staff organize and streamline Town sponsored leagues. Parents will also enjoy easy registration and pay by credit card options.
We have many more fun and entertaining ideas like Touch a Truck, Scavenger hunts, and dances. Not to mention all our annual events like Mayor’s Fishing Derby, movie nights, summer bus trips, Halloween trunk a treat, and Winter Wonderland will be back with a trip on the Polar Express.
As you can see, all our departments will be hard at work this year making sure that the Year of the Youth is successful and productive to the health and well-being of all our children.
To quote the traditional African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” A child has the best ability to become a healthy adult if the entire community takes an active role in contributing to the rearing of the child. We owe it to our children to work together to raise upstanding young men and women who will grow up and know that they were loved and nurtured not just by their parents but by their entire community.
Whether we are creating or revitalizing departments, enhancing public safety, improving services or investing in programs for all residents to enjoy, our commitment to improving the quality of life in Dover remains steadfast and absolute.
This Board, Administration and I are committed to bringing all our residents the services they expect and deserve, while holding the line on the bottom line.
The Town of Dover prides itself on its rich history. We embrace our diversity and our resilience. From its very beginning, Dover has been a Town of hard working and inviting people.
For almost 300 years this great town has seen it all…but I can assure you…its best days are still ahead!!!
Thank you and may God continue to bless the Town of Dover and the United States of America.
View the Mayor's Past Messages.
Mayor James P. Dodd
Town of Dover
37 North Sussex Street
Dover, NJ 07801
Tel.: (973) 366-2200 ext. 1144