2014 State of Town
2014 STATE OF THE TOWN ADDRESS
DOVER, NEW JERSEY
Dear Dover Residents and Friends,
New Year’s Day is rife with contemplation. We reflect upon the year that just passed, with its joys, its accomplishments, and its sorrows, and we look forward to the fresh start that January 1st offers. This year is no different.
In 2013, the Town of Dover made great strides while dealing with the sadness of the passing of a titan. Alderman Paul Downs died on October 10th, during his second term as Alderman of the Second Ward. Paul’s illness and death came as a shock to everyone, including his family, as the initial prognosis for the spry gentleman in his 89th year was excellent. Paul loved his hometown and served it with honor and distinction. To my knowledge, Paul was the oldest serving elected official in the State of New Jersey at the time of his death. It was my honor and privilege to work alongside such a knowledgeable, dedicated, and humble man.
In November, the Board of Aldermen, acting on three recommendations of the municipal committee, voted to fill Paul’s vacant seat with his great-nephew, Thomas MacDonald. Tom previously served Dover in the capacity of a Commissioner for Recreation, where he dedicated himself to the youth of our community. Tom, like his Uncle Paul, has a great interest in quality of life issues and he is committed to building upon the foundation that his Uncle built as Alderman of the Second Ward. Tom additionally has professional experience in the bonding and insurance industry, which will be a great benefit to the Board and our Town. I welcome Tom and look forward to working with him.
In 2013, the Town made great, fiscally responsible, advancements in my comprehensive plans for Quality of Life, Fiscal Responsibility, Economic Development, including, but not limited to the following:
- With the assistance of Alderman Visioli, we upgraded the police department motor vehicle fleet with the purchase of several new vehicles at excellently negotiated price points, to expand the amount of patrol cars on the road, which leads to increased public safety and safety for our police officers
- Our Public Safety Director initiated a program to assist private sector nonprofit groups with the creation of their evacuation and active shooter plans, to effectively address the reality of our times
- The Police Department graduated several police officers from a program to improve pedestrian safety, which is especially important in our business district
- I initiated a policy wherein the Public Safety Director personally counseled the liquor establishment owners who had the most violations and required them to make improvements specifically designed to curb unlawful behavior and compliance with socially acceptable conduct.
- The Board, spearheaded by Alderwoman Romaine, directed the creation and implementation of an effective policy to insure compliance with motor vehicle laws by the taxis and limos operating in Town of Dover
- I worked with Alderwoman Michelle Yzarnotegui to bring the Youth Empowerment Program to Dover, which is a coalition of mental health professionals and community leaders dedicated to drug and alcohol prevention and treatment and providing positive alternatives to our young people.
- In 2012 Alderman Downs sponsored an Ordinance designed to combat vandalism which in 2013 led to the establishment of a very successful graffiti reduction program resulting in numerous arrests, community service, education, and improved cleanliness throughout the Town
- We extensively renovated our athletic fields, volleyball courts, basketball courts at both Crescent Field & Water Works Park
- We implemented a cost savings program to fund new playground equipment at JFK and Waterworks Park
- Public servants and our professional staff worked very hard to win a competitive grant from Major League Baseball to completely renovate the aging King Field Baseball Complex, which had not had any major rejuvenation since its initial installation in 1964. The grant, which was supplemented by bond funds, reduced our costs by more significantly on the project for an enormous return on our investment and will allow us to provide playing fields that are a source of pride for all of us.
- Dover High School earned the distinction of becoming a Blue Ribbon School, which is a great honor in the field of education
- Alderman Picciallo worked with Assemblyman Bucco and Senator Bucco to rename the new Route 46 Bridge in Honor of Officer DeShazo, the first Dover Police officer who lost his life in service to this community.
- Along with Alderman Rutan, I personally oversaw the renovation of our Public Works Recycling Facility, which is now a more fitting place for residents to interact with Town employees with expanded operating hours to best serve our community.
- We recently made a major upgrade to Town Hall by installing new doors, which consistent with my philosophy, maintains the original historical appearance of the building.
- In keeping with my Comprehensive Plan for Economic Redevelopment, Berkley College recently came to Town after merging with the Dover Business College. While I am saddened to see the name Dover removed from the name, the Berkley brand is well-known and we are very happy to have them in our Town as member of our educational and business communities.
- Alderwoman Noriega introduced an Ordinance to move a stop sign in the First Ward to improve safety on the public roadway.
- I am very proud about the resurgence of Boy Scout Troop 64 and especially proud of our 1st Eagle Scout, Jeffery Miller whose project made much needed improvements Orchard Street Cemetery.
- Alderwoman Blackman continued to lead family oriented activities of our movie nights in JFK Park and our Trunk or Treat Halloween Program despite dealing with the loss of her beloved husband, Nathaniel, who was a gentleman, a supporter of his wife, and a much respected community member in his own right.
- Dover also welcomes a several new businesses to our community, Lazy Boy Furniture Store, Rent All Center, and new restaurant, Table 42, to our business community.
In 2014 the momentum shall continue in the following ways:
- Redevelopment will be on the forefront. We are currently working with developers for new exciting redevelopment in 2014 in several areas throughout Town. Requests For Proposals will be sent out in January to market all our municipal parking lots and town owned land. Well-planned redevelopment that is compliant with the vision for our community as established in our Form-Based Code is the key to the continued revitalization of our business district and our economic prosperity.
- Plans are set to create and implement an initiative to enforce commercial vehicle equipment and weight regulations on trucks operating in the town, which will decrease noise and wear and tear on our public roadways
- Without delay, we will increase the police department manpower by at least ten percent, with interviews beginning this month.
- I am prepared to recommend an initiative designed to protect the children of the Town from violent predators, which you will hear about in the forthcoming weeks
- I intend to recommend off street parking to our community during snow events
- We will complete the renovations to our beautiful Town Library building, which we anticipate will be ready for public use in late January
- As promised, we will continue the review and revision of the Town policies, procedures, practices, and programs and make necessary changes
- In my commitment to shared services, I will continue to seek out opportunities for offering enhanced services and reduced costs with surrounding municipalities
- I will recommend to add additional staff to our Code Enforcement Department and take this Department to the next level
- As promised, I will continue to expand upon the implementation of my bedrock philosophies of transparency and information sharing, by installing a new permanent variable message board at JFK Park that will aesthetically complement the historic nature of that area.
- JFK and Hurd Parks will both undergo much-needed cosmetic and structural enhancements including the renovation of the well-known Pavilion with all of its beloved historical elements.
- The historical and famous “Dogs of Dover” will undergo a much-needed renovation this year as we continue to demonstrate respect for our past by preserving it for our future.
As we say good-bye to 2013, with its joys, accomplishments, and sorrows, I am reminded of the words of both Tennyson and Lincoln. Alfred Lord Tennyson said, “Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering 'it will be happier...” And Lincoln wrote, “Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.” There is much to say about each of these thoughtful bits of wisdom and we can each learn something from them.
While serving as your Mayor, I have learned many things, not the least of which is that service is a privilege, our community is a blessing, and that I remain honored and humbled by your faith and trust in me to lead our community.
May God bless you and keep you. May God bless America. May God bless Dover and all who live here!
Happy New Year!
Mayor James P. Dodd