Mayor James P. Dodd
37 N. Sussex Street
Dover, NJ 07801
Tel: 973-366-2200 ext. 1144
Mayor James P. Dodd
(December 31, 2015)
2013 State of the Town Address
Mayor James P. Dodd
On the one hand, New Year’s Day is a time for reflection, but on the other it is a time for thinking ahead. It is a day to reconcile what has been achieved with what has yet to be done. It is a day filled with optimism yet balanced with practical realities. With that in mind, I will review some accomplishments of our community in 2012 and set forth the philosophy that will guide my vision for seizing opportunities in 2013.
Moving forward, my administration will continue the process of reviewing departments, programs, policies, and positions that I promised in my State of the Town Address of 2012. That process in 2012 yielded some important changes and it will continue in this new-year. We will dig deep to make even more bold changes consistent with my comprehensive plans for Fiscal Responsibility, Economic Revitalization, and Quality of Life.
Perhaps one of the boldest reforms of the last year involved rethinking our approach to public safety from a philosophical perspective, which likewise included the practical application of our ideas. We accomplished this by implementing the Public Safety Director’s position.
The position is an innovative solution for managing our community’s crisis situations in a fiscally responsible way. I am very proud to say that with savings from creating this position and eliminating redundant ones, we already hired a police patrol officer and we are currently in the process of hiring more officers who will be in place in the very near future.
To supplement the Public Safety Director’s position, the Board of Aldermen passed an Ordinance establishing an Auxiliary Police Force. This force shall augment and support our current department in times of severe need. They will perform tasks such as directing traffic so that regular police officers are free to perform higher-level safety related services when the Office of Emergency Management is mobilized. There is a minimal cost to the Town, but with our ability to provide for 10 auxiliary force members, they will have a significant impact on improving safety.
As part of my Quality of Life Plan, the Board of Aldermen approved an ordinance that gives the Town more authority to deal with acts of vandalism and graffiti. The removal of graffiti, and improvement of general upkeep, is obvious throughout our community and is a great source of pride for us.
This year we will be implementing programs that provide positive alternatives for our youth. One example is the Empower Dover Community Coalition, a program preventing and reducing youth substance use and abuse in our community. We will also be working closely on a program to stop underage drinking, along with additional programs with the Morris County Family Success Center located on Bassett Highway. I am proud to announce that our Town and our Municipal Alliance will enter into a partnership with this organization to provide support and appropriate intervention for our youth and their families.
Another aspect of my plan is providing meaningful recreational opportunities for all our children, as sports and activities encourage appropriate development, maturity, pride, and love of community. For those reasons, we allowed the Dover Board of Education to develop a state of the art track and field facility as well as a practice field for soccer and football at the Hamilton Field Complex. This type of cooperation and openness represents the cornerstones of my administration, which is needed more now than ever in light of the tragic events of Newtown Connecticut. To improve safety, schools and communities are re-assessing the interplay between municipal services and educational infrastructure—and Dover shall lead the way in 2013. I view our schools as fully interwoven into the fabric of our community; they play a vital role in the development of our children and because of this, I am interested in even more opportunities to be involved in our schools in 2013.
2012 was another year of extraordinary weather events. Hurricane Sandy, which brought devastation upon our State in November and left a large portion of our residents without power for up to two weeks, nonetheless brought out the best in most of us. For every story of destruction, there was likewise a story of extraordinary kindness; it seemed that we all had an unspoken understanding of our plight and pettiness was put aside. I saw neighbors assisting one another and our Town employees toiled at all hours to insure our safety. This event brought perspective to each of us in different ways.
In June a short but very violent storm ripped through our community leaving significant damage to both private and public property in its wake. One casualty was the turf soccer field that we installed in 2006; however, we turned that disaster in development by installing a new “all purpose” field, which accommodates both soccer and football. As an urbanized area, our field space is limited, and in this still struggling economy it would be irresponsible to build two fields when one can serve two purposes; my “all purpose” approach to field development allows us to get the most bang for the buck while providing opportunities for our children. With the support of my administration, we were able to utilize a novel process for purchasing new field turf, which resulted in substantial savings of tax dollars. We also innovated by recycling materials from the old field and incorporated them into the new one; thereby, saving even more taxpayer money while employing a “green” environmentally beneficial approach.
Dover is committed to environmental sustainability to improve our quality of life right now and to insure a clean and healthy legacy for our children. To that end, we will be redesigning our recycling facility in 2013 and extending the hours of operation for the convenience of our residents. Moreover, I am proud to announce that under our new recycling program, we will now offer document shredding at the recycling center on Saturday May 4th from 8 am to 12 noon, to help protect the identities of our residents.
As you know, one of the other cornerstones of my vision for our community is my comprehensive plan for Economic Revitalization. In order to assist our business residents in our downtown, we implemented some key ordinances in 2012. One ordinance provides for reduced parking rates for employees of registered non-profit community businesses, while another one provides two hour parking in area’s where it was much needed. Still another ordinance provides special rates for employees of registered community businesses.
Our economic development got a strong boost when Lazy Boy saw a great opportunity to invest in Dover. The new store opened in the beautiful building on the corner of Route 15 and Mt. Pleasant Avenue. This flagship store is beautifully appointed and is open for business.
Additionally, Dover’s business friendly environment allowed for the Dover Business College to expand its operations in the Newberry building, a historic and architectural gem in the heart our business district. This is precisely the type of urban redevelopment envisioned in the Highlands Act and our Form Based Code. In its new space the Dover Business College has greatly expanded its curricular offerings beyond its core medical training and is now a fully functioning college---and has brought much needed jobs to our community. Being the home to higher learning is a great source of pride for our Town.
Moreover, my administration proudly worked with the Zufall Clinic to redevelop the beautiful former bank on Blackwell Street. That facility is now a state of the art medical clinic that provides essential primary care to it patients, a majority of whom are Dover residents.
Dover has historically been a center of commerce and culture…and while our Town has seen better times; make no mistake. Dover is proving that we are back---and on our way to being better than ever. Dover means business--from our revitalized central historic district, to our industrial areas in the Fourth Ward, and to our redeveloped areas near the Rockaway Mall.
Rest assured, while these are great accomplishments, I will not rest; I will continue to promote our Town to appropriate developers and investors. Dover’s location, its open government, its wide array of municipal services, its private businesses, restaurants, its theater, its library, and its greatest strength, our diverse community oriented people continue to make it an enviable place to own a business, live, and raise a family.
It has been said that, “year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.” Each year your municipal leadership shares the benefit of our experience in office to the betterment of our hometown and 2013 shall be no different.
As always, I thank you for your time and attention and I remain honored and humbled to serve you as Mayor.
James P. Dodd
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