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Mayor's Letter 2018

Dear Chatham Borough Resident,                                                                                      August 2018

This newsletter accompanies your 2018 tax bill and includes an overview of the municipal budget and other information that we feel will be of interest.

Thousands came to enjoy the festivities at the annual Fishawack Festival on June 9th. The Chatham Historical Society organized a commemoration for the building of Public School No. 1, now Borough Hall, in 1910.  And thousands braved hot and steamy weather to come out and enjoy the 64th Fourth of July Parade and the spectacular fireworks display, courtesy of the Chatham Fire Department Association. Former Fire Chief Charles Salin was honored as the Grand Marshal. This fall, the Mayors’ Wellness Committee and the Environmental Commission will conduct a Sustainability Fair on Saturday, September 8th at the Farmers’ Market.

At Fishawack we recognized the following volunteers for their commitment to the Borough: Jacqua-Lyne Pindak (Chatham Historical Society), Kristy Chmura (Shade Tree Commission), Michael Cifelli (Zoning Board of Adjustment), and Dennis O’Brien (Farmers’ Market Advisory Committee). We also recognized the Municipal Alliance Committee of the Chathams, whose dedicated members have done a wonderful job of educating the community on alcohol and drug abuse. The Woman’s Club of Chatham was congratulated on its centennial and its many contributions to the community. These individuals and organizations, along with the scores of other volunteers in the Borough, deserve our thanks for devoting hundreds of hours of their “spare” time to serve our community.

The planning for the redevelopment of Post Office Plaza continues.  We received responses to the Request for Qualifications from four redevelopers.  The redevelopment steering committee will review the responses and select which developers will be asked to submit full redevelopment proposals.  We anticipate vetting those proposals in public in October.  Please see the Borough website for more information on this very important project.

In the next few months we will be introducing two new apps:  Recycle Coach, which will provide a wealth of information on recycling and waste disposal, and SeeClickFix, a citizen engagement tool that will permit online reporting and tracking of requests for problems such as pothole repairs, street tree hazards, drainage issues, and street light outages. 

The following information highlights what the Council and I, along with our Borough employees and volunteers, have been working on. We encourage you to share your questions, concerns and ideas with us by sending them to mayor@chathamborough.org, council@chathamborough.org, or to the Mayor or Council by regular mail to Borough Hall, 54 Fairmount Avenue, Chatham, NJ 07928. Or you can call me at 973-635-0674 x213. And you will find a wealth of information on the Borough website, www.chathamborough.org.

Bruce A. Harris

2018 BUDGET 

The total municipal budget for 2018 is $14.51 million - $154,868 less than the budget for 2017. General revenues are expected to decrease slightly from $5.99 million in 2017 to $5.77 million in 2018. Net valuations of real property increased from $2.081 billion to $2.084 billion. We were able to limit the municipal tax increase to 0.72%. The total tax rate for 2018 will be $2.045 per $100 assessed value. The Borough’s portion is $0.379, or 19% of your tax dollar. The tax increase is within the 2% cap established by the State Legislature. We continue to benefit from the numerous shared services arrangements we have entered into. We are proud to have maintained the Borough’s AAA bond rating. Please visit the Borough website for more information.      


Thanks to a $93,510 grant we received from the Morris County Park Commission, we have established a 1/3rd  mile walking path around the Shepard Kollock Park ball fields and improved the wood-chipped nature trail along the river from the former mill pond dam to the old street car right of way that is now Tallmadge Ave.  We plan to build an observation deck on the piers of the former street car trestle extending over the river.  In May, the Shade Tree Commission organized a planting of 1,000 trees along the nature trail. We refer to this trail informally as the Historic Riverside Trail, because we will have kiosks pointing out the rich history of this area.


Traffic data collected by our police department indicates a reduction of approximately 25% in traffic on Main Street. We think this may be due to the new message board erected by the New Jersey Department of Transportation at our request that provides travel times to Columbia Turnpike and Route 287 to encourage drivers to remain on Route 24. We have also retained a consultant who is conducting a study of traffic patterns in the Borough based on GPS data.  We expect this report to be completed in the fall.


In 2018, we are up for recertification as a sustainable community through the Sustainable Jersey program.  We qualified for Bronze in 2009, were Silver certified in 2012 and 2015 and, in 2012 and 2015, we also received the Champion Award by having the most awarded points for a mid-sized municipality.  For this year’s recertification, we have documented sustainable actions that total to 610 points, although only 350 points are needed for Silver Certification.    Our Green Team is working on the new “Gold Star” program, which involves advanced actions in the areas of Reducing Solid Waste and Increasing Energy Efficiency.  Please join the Green Team if you would like to work to keep Chatham Borough as a sustainable community.


The Borough Council adopted an update to our tree protection ordinance.  Permits will still be required to remove trees and property owners will be required to replace those trees or make a payment into a fund to purchase Borough trees. The revised ordinance will protect our tree canopy.


For the sixth consecutive year, we topped all Morris County municipalities with a 77% recycling rate.   Unfortunately, too many of us are including plastic bags and wrappers – which are NOT currently recyclable – in our recycling. They jam the recycling sorting equipment and also contaminate the bales of paper and cardboard shipped overseas to recyclers. Some supermarkets have collection containers to recycle these bags.  Better yet, use REUSABLE bags when shopping. An additional problem is that recyclables are contaminated with food waste.  Please rinse containers to remove food remnants. If you can’t get the food waste off of pizza boxes, put the boxes in the trash.  Contaminated recyclables end up in landfills.


Our primary vehicle for distributing emergency and non-emergency information, this year it is being enhanced to permit emergency responders to have more information about callers. Even if you are already registered for AlertChathamBorough, please create a new account and provide as much information as possible so that emergency service providers will have the information at their fingertips when you dial 911.  This will permit them to respond more efficiently and communicate with you more effectively when emergency alerts need to be sent. Visit the website or call 973-635-0674 x 200 for information on how to sign up.  If we can’t reach you, we can’t alert you!


The Chatham Borough Board of Health (BOH) is celebrating its one-year anniversary with the Westfield Regional Health Department for public health shared services.  The BOH provides services that focus on health promotion and disease prevention to residents.  The BOH started two primary prevention-based campaigns this past year: (1) implementation of a Tobacco Age of Sale inspection program to ensure those under age 21 are not able to purchase nicotine products, including Juuls and other electronic smoking devices and (2) increased childhood lead screening and community awareness that there is no safe level of lead. 
The BOH will no longer be offering its annual flu clinic. Flu vaccinations will still be provided for the homebound and for the uninsured.  The BOH will provide free child health clinics for physical exams and immunizations, and adult vaccination services to residents who are under-insured or uninsured. The annual rabies clinic will be held at the Chatham Borough Fire Department on November 3, 2018 from 9:00 am to 10:30 am. For more information please visit www.chathamborough.org, www.westfieldnj.gov/health or call 908-789-4070.


Senior Services of the Chathams continues to support the independence of our senior community by providing an enrichment center, transportation, and referral services. It operates a center at the Chatham Township Municipal Building at 58 Meyersville Road. For more information call 973-635-4565 or visit www.chathamseniorcenter.org.


The Borough is working with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to ensure our waterways remain unpolluted and viable through effective storm water management. To ensure the success of this effort, we ask that residents help in implementing the initiatives undertaken by the Borough to better manage storm water. The Borough’s storm water management program mandates that every resident and business properly dispose of pet waste. It also prohibits feeding wildlife on public property and prohibits dumping of any kind into storm sewers and disposing of wastewater into a storm sewer. Please visit www.chathamborough.org or www.cleanwaternj.org for more information on how to keep our streams and rivers clean. If you have any questions about storm water management, please contact Vincent DeNave, Borough Engineer, at 973-635-0674 x 270.


Volunteers perform key roles in our community.  Volunteers staff our fire department and emergency squad, our recreation programs, our Farmers’ Market and our boards, commissions and committees. To volunteer to serve on the Chatham Borough Fire Department, either as an adult or junior member, contact Fire Chief Doug Allan at 973-635-9090.  To volunteer to serve on the Chatham Emergency Squad, contact the VP of Personnel at personnel@chathamemergencysquad.org  (or visit www.chathamemergencysquad.org). To serve on a municipal board, commission or committee, simply complete the “Volunteer Application” (available on the website under “Forms & Applications” and also at the Borough Clerk’s office) and indicate your interest. A complete list of the volunteer opportunities is on the Borough website. We continue to provide internships for high school and college students. Please contact Janice Piccolo at 973-635-0674 x200.

Friendly Reminders.  Borough ordinances restrict the use of water for lawn watering and of power equipment outdoors to certain hours. In addition, engine idling for more than three minutes is against New Jersey law.  Please see the Borough calendar and the website for more information.

 Remember: Texting and driving don’t mix.

2017 Mayor's Letter

2016 Mayor's Letter

2015 Mayor's Letter