Sometimes it's the little things... like fixing the crumbling walls at the entrance to Chubb Park. The Parks Committee took on this project earlier this month and sought out a repair at minimal cost. Thanks to the Township volunteers who saw this project through. Left picture is before, right is after.
A privilege to thank Chester Police Chief Tom Williver for his combined twenty-five years of service to our community and our country and to congratulate him on a well deserved retirement. A man of impeccable integrity, leadership, and good nature, we will miss him greatly. Congratulations to Chester’s officer of the year, Chris Cavanagh. And welcome to Chester’s newest police officer, Zachary Schiffman. We are fortunate to have such an exceptional, community-minded police department.
On Wednesday night, just before that wild thunderstorm, I kicked off my campaign for mayor in my favorite spot to gather with friends and neighbors: the backyard.
We're overwhelmed with gratitude for the more than 80 friends who joined us and heard from our excellent speakers, Jack Ciattarelli, Tom Kean, and Senate Republican Leader Steve Oroho. It goes without saying, we're going to run this campaign with a lot of heart and a lot of energy.
We also must thank Senator Tony Bucco, Assemblywoman Aura Dunn, Sheriff James Gannon, County Clerk Ann Grossi, and the Morris and Sussex Republican Chairs, Laura Ali and Jerry Scanlan, for helping us kick off the evening. Lastly, thank you to our many generous sponsors!
Say hi to Chester’s new ladder truck! It was a privilege to join Mayor Hoven in christening this truck, which will serve our community for many, many years. Godspeed, Chester Volunteer Fire Company!
Congratulations to American Legion Post 342 on today’s dedication of a beautiful new flag pole. Two West Morris Mendham High School juniors, John Holtz and Anthony Santos, led a local fundraising campaign for the new flag pole.
The original pole dates back to the 1950’s. Thank you also to Troop 139 for organizing a clean-up of the area immediately following the ceremony. The Legion is looking good!
Good government that delivers for residents doesn’t happen by accident. It requires proactive thinking, collaboration, and hard work. It’s why Mike Inganamort founded a working group of neighboring towns that have created cost-saving shared service agreements. It’s why he’s built solid relationships with state leaders that have led to cooperation and funding. It’s why he’s at Town Hall so often, problem-solving with our superb staff. It’s why Mike is running for mayor.
Chester Township is as good as it gets.
I’m running for mayor to keep it that way. And I believe I know how to do it. Our town needs competence, stability, and experience at Town Hall. I’ve seen the difference these qualities can make as the Council’s longest-serving member.
Just as important, we need a vision for what Chester Township will look like in the future. My vision for Chester is one where three generations of a family are able to enjoy a high quality of life together: where our children are safe and well-served by parks and recreation programs; adult residents can afford to invest in their homes; and our seniors enjoy quality services for the taxes they pay.
We must also prepare for new challenges, such as ever-increasing mandates from state government and the creep of social isolation. We have big challenges ahead of us, but we also have big goals. In the coming weeks, I'm going to share more details on my five main priorities:
For now, I look forward to starting a conversation on these priorities and any of your own that you'd like to share.
Thank you to the County College of Morris, Senator Tony Bucco, Assemblywoman Aura Dunn, the Morris County Board of Commissioners, and VFW Post 7333 for working to bring the 'Moving Wall' - a half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial - to the college July 7th through 11th. This will be a very popular and moving attraction, you won't want to miss. Donations are being sought to help to defray that cost of displaying the wall. VFW Post 7333 also is looking for volunteers to assist while the wall is at CCM. Click here for more.
The Council last night endorsed an application to Sustainable Jersey for a $2,000 grant that would go towards the conversion of the MacGregor Preserve's entrance field to a native wildflower meadow. This project is a joint effort between the Parks Committee and the Environmental Commission with the goals of better utilizing the space for trail access, increasing access to the adjacent camping area, and enhancing the visual appeal of the park. Stay tuned for an update this summer.
Chester Township learned at the turn of the year that our application for a $250,000 state grant for parks improvements was approved. These dollars will go toward three projects, the first two of which the Council finalized and approved last night: replacement of the existing, out-of-date playground at Chubb Park; installation of a new playground at Highlands Ridge Park; and installation of an ADA-compliant walkway at Highlands Ridge Park. Expect construction on these new playgrounds to take place early this summer. A rendering of the Highlands Ridge Park playground is below:
New Jersey’s new Legislative map was released moments ago and, among other changes around the state, Chester will move from the 25th to the 24th District. This new map will take effect following the 2023 general election (so, nearly two years from now). This is a bittersweet change, as we'll no longer be represented by our good friends and hardworking advocates, Senator Tony Bucco, Assemblyman Brian Bergen, and Assemblywoman Aura Dunn. On the bright side, I'm excited to once again work with Senator Steve Oroho, Assemblyman Parker Space, and Assemblyman Hal Wirths. Some residents may recall that Chester Township was represented by Senator Oroho a decade ago. I spoke with Senator Oroho today and he is enthusiastic about representing Chester again. I'm confident we'll continue to have strong representation in Trenton.
On Saturday, I was pleased to join Mayor Asdal in welcoming Chester Township's newest business, Montessori Kids Universe. This new business, which occupies the former Rainbow Academy Building on Route 24, is owned and operated by a local Chester family. To say that they renovated and remodeled the building would be an understatement. This is now a totally modern facility. If you or an area family are in need of childcare services, be sure to check out Montessori Kids Universe in Chester.
Quick update on the effort to bring an all-purpose pavilion to Chubb Park, with leadership and support from the Chester Volunteer Fire Company. A pavilion like the one contemplated would not only be available to local civic groups and residents, but also save user groups from having to rent expensive tents like the ones you see at the carnival, etc. Hope to make serious progress on this project in 2022. Read more here: Pavilion plan for Chubb Park inches closer to reality.
Last night, the Council approved the sale of several items our DPW had either replaced or no longer needed. These included two dump trucks, one Ford F350, one street sweeper, two International tandems, and a generator. All together, these items netted a total of $65,600, all of which will go to next year's bottom line. Kudos to Councilman Tim Drag for advocating we sell these items on Municibid (an online auction open to any buyer), which earned us a better price than had we sold the items locally, and also to Councilman Joe DiPaolo who started the process by which the Council reviews and approves each bid before approving the sale.
Yesterday I spoke with the Patch about Senator Bob Dole's legacy. He was one of the last giants of the Greatest Generation and, for many of us, the first personification of what an American hero looks like. Courageous, honorable, funny - a man for the ages.
Two positive developments to report over at the Highlands Ridge Barn.
First, the patio our Department of Works began constructing this fall is now complete. This will be a nice outdoor space for meetings, presentations, and small concerts. And the adjacent hill makes for a great spot to throw down a blanket and enjoy. Another priority of our Parks Committee come to life!
Secondly, in an effort to promote use of the Barn, we are on track to eliminate the electricity fee for events that are under two hours. It’s a small change in the scheme of things, but it comes in response to local groups like the Girl Scouts and Lioness Club that felt priced out of using the Barn for their monthly meetings or similar. Not many towns can boast a quaint barn as their community center - here's to “filling it up” in 2022.
Earlier today, Lauren and I had the chance to volunteer with Table of Hope, whose food distribution event at the County College of Morris served thousands of local families in need. The partnership between Table of Hope and CCM has been of enormous benefit to the community throughout the pandemic. This was actually the fourth Table of Hope event hosted at CCM, with sponsors including Chester Township's own Alstede Farms, as well as Bethel Church of Morristown, the Community Food Bank of NJ, the Morris County Chamber of Commerce, Morris County Sheriff's Office, and New Jersey Natural Gas.
Special thanks to Morris County Sheriff James Gannon and CCM President Tony Iacono for their continued leadership!
This week was the 106th League of Municipalities convention, an opportunity for municipal officials to learn from each other and other experts in the field. Some of the panel discussions I most enjoyed were those on:
I came away feeling that Chester Township is ahead of the curve on a lot of these issues, though there's always more to learn. It's always a good sign when your municipal prosecutor is teaching the class on running on efficient municipal court.
By the way, earlier this year I was asked to join the League's Legislative Committee on Tax & Finance, a group of municipal officials who evaluate pending legislation in Trenton. We consider the impact of certain bills on municipalities and then make recommendations to the broader League membership on whether or not to support those bills. It's been beneficial for Chester Township (especially our Finance Department) to have this seat at the table.
Cheers to 100 years! Thank you to the Chester Volunteer Fire Company for answering the call, day and night, for 100 years. They serve so we may sleep easy. How privileged are we? It was an honor to join the Fire Company in a celebratory re-enactment of their very first meeting last night.
If you'd like to volunteer for the Chester Volunteer Fire Company, apply in person at the Fire House on Wednesdays at 7:00pm or Sundays at 10:00am or online here. You can also support the Fire Company's annual fund drive.
There's been solid progress on the new patio behind the Highlands Ridge Barn. Thanks to our Department of Public Works for the excellent work on this Parks Committee priority. This will soon be a great outdoor meeting place.
Looking ahead, the plan is to gauge how this patio is received and utilized before making decisions around a more expansive amphitheater on the site.
Today, Chester Township took possession of a brand new Deere 544 Loader.
As Councilman Tim Drag, the liaison to our DPW explains, Chester Township currently uses two older loaders which were prone to breakdowns. In fact, both broke down at the same time during the peak of last year’s winter. Our DPW had to rent a loader to make sure we could continue to provide the services our residents have come to expect.
Here’s to many years of good service and welcome to our fleet 544.
Glad we have Councilman Tim Drag, who knows his way around heavy machinery, to guide these important, long-term purchasing decisions (and, if necessary, pump the breaks!).
Last night, the Council voted unanimously on a path forward for meeting our affordable housing obligation.
We've tasked the Planning Board with developing design specifications for an RFP for the Glenlora site on Route 24 that follows five criteria (see below).
Thank you to the residents and neighbors who shared feedback last night, all of it constructive.
It is important to point out that Chester Township's decision to end its affordable housing litigation in late 2018 enabled us to have this discussion in the public, as opposed to part of a settlement agreement. This will make for a better, more collaborative long-term solution.
Many steps to go, but solid progress was made last night.
The municipal-level data from the 2020 Census was released this morning and Chester Township's population remained steady, shedding a little over 100 residents over the past decade. Our population as of the 2020 Census is 7,713.
It's fun to click around on the Census website: https://www.census.gov/.../chestertownshipmorri.../POP010220
Here's a special message from three-time Olympic gold medalist Rowdy Gaines on opening day of the Chester Area Pool. Rowdy is out in Omaha this week for the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials, but he's always spreading the word of the A, B, C, and D's of water safety. Learn what those are from The ZAC Foundation, including a special section on drowning prevention strategies: https://thezacfoundation.org/