Mayor’s Update on October 18, 2021
Mayor Murello: The General election is Tuesday, November 2nd. Early voting will be Saturday, October 23 through Sunday, October 31. Hours will be Monday-Saturday, 10:00 a.m.–8:00 p.m. and Sunday, 10:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m. No appointment is necessary. The closest early voting location is the Mount Olive Municipal Building, 204 Flanders Drakestown Road. For a list of all early voting locations, visit: www.nj.gov/state/elections
Beginning with this November General Election, polling places for some voting districts in town have been changed. Visit www.wtmorris.org for more information. In addition, for those that want to vote by mail, a new Morris County Elections Drop Box was installed at the Washington Township Police Station. It is electronically monitored 24/7 and will be picked up by County Board of Elections officials.
The Washington Township Annual Senior Holiday Luncheon will be held on Monday December 6, 2021 at The Chandelier at Flanders Valley. The featured entertainment is Pamm & Steve Positivity Duo. There is a nonrefundable fee of $33 for residents and $40 for non- residents due before November 30, 2021. No walk-ins will be accepted, you must pre-register for this luncheon. Registration information is available on the website or by calling the recreation office.
The Township is soliciting proposals for professional services for Township Engineer, Traffic Engineer, Planning Board Engineer, Board of Adjustment Engineer, Board of AdjustmentAttorney and Planning BoardAttorney. RFPs can be requested by emailing the Township Clerk. Instructions are also posted on the website.
On the Township Committee’s agenda tonight is a resolution to designate the Historic Districts as areas in need of rehabilitation. If adopted, a copy of this Resolution shall be provided to the Planning Board for its review and recommendations to be submitted to the Township Committee within forty-five (45) days of receipt.This resolution is the first step in implementing a tax abatement for improvements to buildings in the historic districts that are done in accordance with historic preservation standards.
Mayor’s Update on September 20, 2021
Mayor Murello: At the October 1st WMCHS home football game we will have a ceremony as part of Corporal Jamie Smith Day, who died on October 3, 1993 during “Operation Restore Hope,” in Mogadishu, Somali. Please join me, the Long Valley Veterans Post 1776 and the WMCHS Administration at the start of the football game that night for a ceremony in his honor and all the WMCHS veterans that have died in combat.
Paving projects that have been completed since my August report include:
- Spring Lane milling and paving has been completed.
- Rock Road milling and paving has also been completed
The Health Department is holding a Back-to-Health Open House - “Building Back the Best Version of Yourself” at Valley View Chapel, tomorrow evening, September 21st, from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m.
- There will be speakers from CARES, Zufall, ReachNJ, The Recovery Village and the Washington Township Police Department
- FREE Blood Pressure Screenings as well as Flu & COVID-19 Vaccination will be offered
Beginning with this November General Election, polling places for some voting districts in town have been changed. Two locations where four districts voted were unavailable for the June primary election. District 3 voters will be able to vote again at the West Morris Central High School going forward; however the other polling location was not able to commit as a polling location.
Fortunately, additional facilities have volunteered to serve as polling locations and have been inspected and approved by the Morris County Board of Elections. With these new locations, and the loss of a previous location, polling locations for several districts have been changed.
Details on the polling location changes can be found on www.wtmorris.org
Postcards with the new locations will be mailed to voters in those districts this week.
In addition, for those that want to vote by mail, a new Morris County Elections Drop Box was installed at the Washington Township Police Station. It is electronically monitored 24/7 and will be picked up by Board of Elections officials.
The annual township paper shredding event will be held on Saturday, October 9, 2021 8:00 to 11:00 AM . The event is open to Washington Township, Morris County, residents only. Proof of residency required. Three banker size boxes are free. Three additional banker size boxes permitted at $10.00 each for a total maximum of 6 boxes per household. Boxes to be supplied by residents. Each box must have a sticker. Stickers may be picked up beginning October 4, 2021 at the DPW office, 54 Rock Road Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm
Mayor's Update on August 16, 2021
Mayor Murello: Repairs to the playset in Rock Top Playground at Rock Spring Park have been completed. The playset was re-opened on Friday.
Since last month’s report by the Vice-Mayor:
Stephensburg Road was resurfaced with oil and chip
Dogwood Drive and Hemlock Drive were milled and paved.
Spring Lane milling and paving will be ongoing this week.
Rock Road work to begin August 23 with miling and paving to begin on or around August 30
Roadwork hours are approximately 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Health Department is holding a Back-to-Health Open House - “Building Back the Best Version of Yourself” at Valley View Chapel, September 21 from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m.
This event will be an opportunity for residents to access information on resources offered to the community, become aware of volunteer opportunities, and be educated on ways to improve their state of health.
FREE Blood Pressure Screenings will be offered
FREE Flu & COVID-19 Vaccinations will be available
More info on speakers and agencies that will have tables at the event will be posted to wtmorris.org and social media
Mayor's Update on July 19, 2021
Vice-Mayor Roehrich: A water chestnut cleanup of Kohler’s Pond was done by about 30 volunteers on June 11. The cleanup was organized by the Green team and assistance was provided by the Department of Public Works.
The temporary outreach coordinator in the Health Department hired with a state grant is working with various agencies on coordinating a symposium to be held in September. There will be speakers on mental health, opioid addiction and representatives of various resources available to the community also in attendance. More information will be forthcoming by our next meeting.
As usual, the Township Committee will start discussing potential road projects in August. After reviewing information on traffic, core data and cost estimates, a decision on which roads to prepare specifications to put out to bid is usually made in September.
The roller hockey rink should be open in the next two weeks.
On tonight’s agenda is a PUBLIC HEARING on an amendment to an affordable housing zoning overlay. The Planning Boards recommend a proposed ordinance amendment to the overlay that the Township Committee enacted in April 2020. The proposed amendment would increase permitted improved lot coverage from 60% to 70% and eliminate the floor area ratio (FAR). A developer has presented a concept plan to the Planning Board. However, as the Planning Board’s last meeting was cancelled, the public hearing will be opened and then carried until the August 16 meeting so an official determination of consistency with the master plan can be provided by the Planning board before action is taken by the Township Committee.
Mayor’s Update on June 21, 2021
This summer we will have road improvement projects totalling approximately 7 miles of roads in town, including milling and paving projects on: Rock Road, Spring Road, Dogwood, Hemlock and a portion of Pleasant Grove road between N Mt Lebanon Road and the county line. Most if not all of Rock Road will be funded with a $320,000 grant and on tonight’s agenda is a resolution to apply for a DOT grant for Coleman Road for next .
We are also continuing our oil and chip program on Stephensburg Road and Beacon Hill from Abedim to W Mill Road.
Registration for Movies in the Park is open again. You can register on www.wtmorris.net now for the June 25 showing of Spies in Disguise.
The tennis courts have been repaired and resurfaced and both tennis and pickle ball court lines will be repainted. The repainting has begun and is expected to finish this week.
The dinosaur at the Rock Spring Park playground is temporarily closed for repairs. A replacement piece is scheduled for delivery in July after which it will be reopened.
The hockey rink is expected to be complete and and open to the public in July for skating and thank you to all the public and private partners that made that project a reality
The recreation department is offering for the first time “Team Laser Tag” to our Washington Township Residents. The event will be provided by Game truck for all boys and girls ages 13-18 years old. The evening event takes place on Thursday, June 24th from 5:00 pm-7:00 pm.
Mayor's Update on May 17
Mayor Murello: Beginning this week, the municipal building’s public office hours will be expanded to Monday to Thursday 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Appointments are still strongly encouraged.
Effective May 19th NJ will remove the gathering limits for all outdoor gatherings and for indoor businesses and houses of worship, providing 6-foot distances can be maintained. Governor Murphy also lifted the mask mandate outdoors in public spaces effective today. Also effective today, travelers to New Jersey are no longer required to quarantine. Finally, from the Governor, Executive Order #175 (which allowed school districts to allow full time remote learning) will expire at the end of this current school year. All students will be back in school for full-time, in-person instruction for the 2021-2022 school year. Vaccines are available without an appointment at the Morris County Megasite (Rockaway Townsquare Mall - Sears Store, 301 Mt. Hope Avenue, Rockaway): 8 am to 12 pm, Monday to Sunday
The WTMUA reminds customers in the Schooley’s Mountain water system that mandatory water restrictions are in effect this Saturday, May 15 until September 15, 2021.
Two grant applications to the state department of health totaling about $300,000 are on tonight’s agenda. Next month we will have applications for a DOT grant for Coleman Road and a county trails construction grant
The recreation department is offering for the first time “Team Laser Tag” to our Washington Township Residents. The event will be provided by Game truck for all boys and girls ages 13-18 years old. The evening event takes place on Thursday, June 24th from 5:00 pm-7:00 pm and visit www.wtmorris.net for more information and registration.
For the June 8th primary election, in person voting will be permitted by NJ and please note that we have had to move the polling locations for voting Districts #3, 6, 10 & 12 voters. District 3 (which normally votes at the West Morris Central High School) will vote for this election at the Fairmount Firehouse. Districts #6, 10 & 12 (which normally vote at Schooley’s Mountain Firehouse) will vote at Valley View Chapel – 115 East Mill Road.
Mayor’s Update on March 15, 2021
Mayor Murello: It is with a heavy heart that I have to report today that the Washington Township Health Department, in conjunction with the New Jersey Department of Health, confirmed one additional death due to COVID-19 in Washington Township since my last report. This brings our total deaths related to COVID-19 to 21 and our hearts go out to their families. We can also confirm a total of 833 confirmed PCR test COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic with 38 cases currently remaining in isolation. For current COVID case information in the Township, visit the Morris County Site: https://health.morriscountynj.gov/coronavirus/
The Township call center remains open to assist people Monday - Friday from 8 AM - 3 PM. If you are over the age of 75 and have not been able to get an appointment for a vaccination, please call the call center at 908-441-2597 and leave your name and phone number and the Health Department will assist you in scheduling an appointment.
Starting on Friday, March 19, 2021, Governor Phil Murphy has allowed increases in the indoor capacity limits from 35 percent to 50 percent for several businesses, including food and beverage establishments and entertainment and recreational businesses. Outdoor gatherings will also be permitted up to 50 people
On tonight’s agenda is the introduction of the 2021 municipal budget. The budget increase is 1.43% and the tax levy increase is 1.53%. Because there was a slight decrease in ratables, the tax rate increase will be 1.64% which will equal about $33 for the average assessed home of $436,000. The budget includes a new fire truck as well as the annual replacement of turnout gear, a new chipper to help with ash tree removal, roof replacement at police headquarters and over $900,000 for road work.
Also on tonight’s agenda is an introduction of an ordinance allowing dogs to be walked on leashes on Township paved paths in parks. I encourage feedback from people as we will have a public hearing on the ordinance at the April meeting.
Coming this Wednesday will be the Seniors annual St. Patrick's Day lunch. Again this year for the safety of our seniors, this year's lunch will be pick-up only.
Mayor’s Update on February 10, 2021 Township Committee Regular Meeting
Mayor Murello: It is with a heavy heart that I have to report today that the Washington Township Health Department, in conjunction with the New Jersey Department of Health, confirmed four additional deaths due to COVID-19 in Washington Township since my last report. This brings our total deaths related to COVID-19 to 20 and our hearts go out to their families. We can also confirm a total of 719 confirmed COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic with 44 cases currently remaining in isolation. For current COVID case information in the Township, visit the Morris County Site: https://health.morriscountynj.gov/coronavirus/
Washington Township Recreation and Norwescap are coming together and offering a Zoom presentation on Medicare 101. The Zoom presentation will take place on Friday, March 5, 2021 from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm. To register, contact W.T. Recreation Office at (908) 876-5941 or email [email protected] before March 3, 2020. Login and instructions will be sent to you via email.
On February 3, 2021, Governor Phil Murphy signed Executive Order No. 219, which increases indoor capacity limits from 25 percent to 35 percent for several businesses, including food and beverage establishments and entertainment and recreational businesses.
The Washington Township Health Department, which also serves Chester Township, has opened a resource line for information on COVID-19 vaccination and resources while quarantining or isolating. The line is open from 8 am to 3 pm Monday to Friday, and 9 am to 3 pm on Saturdays and the number is 908-441-2597. As of yesterday, there have been 210 calls to the resource line since it opened Thursday, January 28th.
Vaccination information is available on the COVID portal on www.wtmorris.org and through the Township’s resource line.
Link for NJ Vaccination Registration:
Link to Sign-Up for Atlantic Health System Appt Notifications:
Link for NJ Vaccination Locations: https://covid19.nj.gov/pages/covid-19-vaccine-locations-for-eligible-recipients
Call (Medical COVID-19 Questions): 1-800-962-1253 (24/7)
Call (Vaccine Appointment Support): 1-855-568-0545 (8:00a.m-8:00p.m)
Last month, with the help of the MUA, DPW, the Fairmount Fire Department and the Wolfpack hockey club, we flooded the new hockey rink at Harrington Park. With the weather forecast for cold temperatures for the time being we will continue to have the rink open on weekends during daytime hours (9A-5P). I've been up there several times and the rink is in great shape and I hope that everyone that enjoys skating takes the opportunity to use this new facility. Please look for the “Open or Closed” sign at the entrance to Harrington park to see if the rink is open.
Governor Murphy announced this week that the spring elections will be done primarily in person, at polling places.
Mayor’s Update on January 18, 2021 Township Committee Regular Meeting
Mayor Murello: Today we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I would like to start by honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. whose 92nd birthday we would have celebrated on January 15th. This year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I ask people to take a moment to honor the man who pioneered and was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism.
It is with a heavy heart that I have to report today that the Washington Township Health Department, in conjunction with the New Jersey Department of Health, confirmed three additional deaths due to COVID-19 in Washington Township since my last report. This brings our total deaths related to COVID-19 to 16 and our hearts go out to their families. We can also confirm a total of 536 confirmed COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic with 63 cases currently remaining in isolation. This week the Township is working on opening up a hotline for residents to get assistance on how and where to get vaccinated, current CDC and state guidelines and general COVID-19 health information, if limited access to computers is a problem. Recently awarded grant funds will be used to staff the hotline during business hours and more information on this will come out soon.
Morris County is now offering no-cost, in-person saliva COVID testing at County College of Morris. Testing is available on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. You can get more information on local testing and current COVID-19 case numbers at the County’s page: www.morriscountycovid19.org You can also find your nearest testing location here: https://covid19.nj.gov/pages/testing.
The State has started administering the vaccines in the area. State of New Jersey recently modified those eligible to receive the COVID-19 Vaccine to include individuals over 65 and those individuals between the ages of 16 and 64, who have specific underlying health issues. The availability of the vaccine is key to the general population being vaccinated. The expansion of eligible persons has created more demand for the same limited supply, but I can report that most, if not all, of Washington Township’s first responders that chose to get the vaccination have had access to it. People can pre-register for vaccinations and will be notified when they are available at either: https://covid19.nj.gov/pages/vaccine or Atlantic Heath’s page: Vaccine Appointments (atlantichealth.org). Once the supply of the vaccine begins to increase, it is anticipated that many individuals will be able to visit their doctor to receive the injections, much like they would the flu shot.
The annual budget process will start on January 28th with future public meetings scheduled on February 4th, 11th and 18th (if necessary). All meetings start at 6:30 PM at Town Hall. I encourage people who are interested in the municipal budget to attend as this is an open process for all Township departments.
Washington Township has continued to participate in the Hunterdon Energy Aggregation Cooperative (HAEC). The contract that the HAEC has with IDT Energy, Inc. to furnish your electric supply through the Community Energy Aggregation Program ended with participating residents' December 2020 meter read. The program will be returning at a new rate of $0.0867/kWh for a term of 9 months effective March 2021, and the new program offers residents the opportunity to select a 100% renewable energy option at a slightly higher rate of $0.0878/kWh. Additional information can be found on the Washington Township’s website Hunterdon Energy Aggregation Program Restarts March 1 - Blog (wtmorris.org) and via upcoming Zoom webinars on January 19th and 20th organized by the Cooperative.
Last Saturday, the township had our annual free rabies clinic. The Township will not have another rabies clinic this year but for more information on surrounding clinics, please visit https://health.morriscountynj.gov/public/rabies/
Mayor's Annual Report January 2, 2021
Mayor Murello: Good morning everyone and Happy New Year. I would like to start this morning by thanking the people of Washington Township for re-electing me for another term as your Committeeman. I would also like to thank the majority of my fellow Committeemen for putting their faith in me to serve our community as Mayor for a third year. Lastly, I would be remiss if I did not thank our township volunteers, Administrator and township employees, as well as the families of the volunteers and of those of us on the Township Committee, especially my wife Kristine and my children Nicholas and Olivia, as none of us could serve our community without your support and understanding.
I’d also like to recognize and thank Sheriff James Gannon for administering my Oath of Office today for my new term. It meant so much to me to have you here again this year in person, joined by County Surrogate Darling and Commissioners Cabana and Selen. Since we are restricted this year to the number of guests we can have at our reorganization meeting, I'd like to recognize the elected officials that normally attend in person; Senator Anthony Bucco, Assemblywoman Aura Dunn, Assemblyman Brian Bergen, Morris County Clerk, Ann Grossi, Morris County Commissioners; Director Steven Shaw, Deputy Director Deborah Smith, Kathy DeFillippo, Tom Mastrangelo and (Former WT Mayor) John Krickus. Washington Township is always grateful for the excellent working relationships we have with our elected representatives.
To say that 2020 was a year full of challenges would be a gross understatement. Leading the Township through the Pandemic has been one of the most difficult challenges I've ever had in my political career. In 2021 we start a new year and a new decade on a positive note. As we continue to fight the Coronavirus which has affected the lives of virtually every resident and business in Washington Township, I am hopeful that in 2021 the deployment of the vaccines will allow for all of us to return to a life where we can live with the virus, without the oppressive restrictions imposed upon us. Our hearts go out to the families that have lost loved ones and were affected financially by the pandemic. I believe that every job is essential and we should all be allowed to get back to work to provide for our families and I look forward to people being able to gather again safely, our businesses being able to recover fully and our students returning to schools in person again soon.
2020 was not without our accomplishments. It’s important to note however, that our accomplishments could not have been achieved without the hard work of the Township Administrator and my fellow Committeemen. We do try to work collaboratively to benefit the people of the Township. Again this year, an independent group that researches communities nationwide determined that Washington Township is one of the best communities to live in giving it an “A” rating.
One of the greatest challenges we work with in municipal government is keeping up with our aging infrastructure. The Township has a total of 150 miles of roadways, of which 130 miles are maintained by the municipality, 18 miles by Morris County and 1.20 miles by the State. In 2020, we continued to work on improving our infrastructure by budgeting more than $1.5 Million on paving and resurfacing projects, an increase of more than $869,000 annually from 4 years ago. The Township completed almost 4 miles of major paving and road work improvement projects, including; completing the multi-year project of repaving Naughright Road, 4046 feet of Mission Road, 2696 feet of William Way, 2286 feet of Nestlingwood Drive, all 1626 feet of Brook Lawn Drive and 2300 feet of Long Hill Road. In addition to the paving projects, the Township completed another 3.6 miles of Oil and Chip projects in 2020, including; 4632 feet of Drakestown Road, 4000 feet of Middle Valley Road, 2450 feet of Black River Road, 1720 feet of Heath Lane and 6300 feet of Mt. Lebanon Road. The DPW also spent 2,237 hours on base and drainage repairs on William Way, Mission Road and Nestling Wood before the milling and paving was done through the county co-op. I am committed to continuing to increase our road improvement budget for 2021.
In 2020 the Township has 18 shared service agreements. Though in some cases we receive services from another municipality, in most cases Washington Township provides services benefiting the recipients and increasing revenue to our budget. In 2021 we approved a new shared service agreement, wherein Washington Township will serve as the lead agency and provide Animal Control services to eight other municipalities. In total, 2020 saw the Township receiving about $1,000,000 in shared service revenue. Money that goes directly to serve the people of the Township and I will remain committed to working with our neighbors to explore new opportunities for shared services.
Washington Township also continues to benefit from grants. There was $557,000 in grants to the Township included in the 2020 budget. At the end of 2020 we were awarded; $84,000 for one of two open space grant applications to Morris County, a $129,000 grant from the Local Government Emergency Fund the Township Committee authorized, a Strengthening Local Health capacity Grant for $140,000 and a $321,000 NJDOT grant for the re-paving of Rock Road. On average, the Township applies for and receives $350,000 in grants annually. We are starting 2021 with $674,000 with just these four grants I mentioned above and all the thanks goes to the Township employees that research and prepare the grant applications every year. Washington Township has approximately 30 miles of paths and trails. A contract to expand the walking trail in Harrington Park was awarded at the end of 2020 to continue to improve and increase the walking trails in town.
Another project that I’m committed to completing in 2021 is the renovation and improvement of the exterior of the Municipal Building. The project has been fully funded and the review of this project has been delayed due to the local and state agencies and COVID-19 related shutdowns. It’s time to get that project done and get our Municipal Building looking like it should again.
Our recreation department continues to deliver almost daily programs for our families and seniors in town. Including; the recent house holiday light decorating contest, the drive-in movies last summer, sports and fitness programs and veteran and senior holiday lunches. But having diverse programs isn’t enough and we will continue to maintain and improve our recreation facilities and fields which are some of the best around. I’m proud that we recently completed the long-planned hockey rink at Harrington Park and look forward to people starting to skate on it this winter.
Washington Township has the best emergency service departments. This past year and continuing into 2021, they have all added to their equipment and training due to the COVID-19 pandemic and taken on an increased call load for the people in this area. Our all-volunteer fire departments and first aid squad are the best trained, and hardest working volunteer forces in the area and the envy of our neighboring towns. We continued to support our departments in 2020 by working with them to deliver a new ambulance, as well as to reserve over $500,000 for emergency equipment and vehicles over the last two years. We can all agree that especially this last year, we have appreciated our first responders more than ever and the Committee will remain committed to keeping them equipped with what they need.
The Washington Township police department remains one of the top municipal forces in the State. Through the leadership of Chief Almer, the officers remain committed to continual classroom and practical training. Township officers serve on multiple specialty task forces locally and County-wide and the Department’s community-oriented approach to policing included events like Coffee with a Cop, no shave November and School Resource Officers. Chief Almer also received accreditation through the NJ Association of State Chiefs of Police, making him one of a very few accredited Police Chiefs in NJ. While dealing with the challenges and adversities of 2020, our officers remained committed to keeping us one of the safest towns in the State and in the Nation and we are thankful for all that they do. This year, we will swear two new officers to the department to increase the police department’s capacity and readiness.
While continuing to improve our town, deliver the services and equipment needed, the Committee hears the residents about property taxes and remains fiscally conservative with municipal budget. Washington Township has the third lowest municipal property taxes per person in Morris County. Statewide, the average share of property taxes that went to municipalities was about 30%, while about 50% went to schools and 20% to counties. In 2020, 18% of property taxes in Washington Township went to the municipality while 72% to schools and 10% to the County.
In the 2020 budget, average Washington Township homeowners saw only a $22 increase in their municipal taxes. Over the last 5 years, the Municipal tax increase has been less than 2% annually for residents. In addition, we have not in that time used any exceptions to the 2% cap allowed by the state. Furthermore, the Committee in 2020 continued to aggressively pay down our debt and increased our surplus more rapidly and responsibly. As we begin to work on the budget for this year, a process that is open to the public, I’m committed to continuing this trend to keep the municipal share of the property taxes low and deliver the services needed for our residents.
Washington Township is a great place to live and we are going to keep it that way. I want to conclude by again thanking the Committee, Township Administrator and all of the employees and volunteers for making through the challenges of 2020 and for an optimistic new year. Thank you very much.
Mayor’s Update on December 21, 2020 Township Committee Regular Meeting
Mayor Murello: This Saturday, we honored 363 veterans that are buried in Washington Township as part of the 5th annual Wreaths Across America day. This event is the continuation of a Girl Scout Gold Project of Sarah Guida and I want to thank the Long Valley Knights of Columbus and Mike Lennon, W.T. Police Department, Scouts from Troop 36, the musicians (Maggie Schaffer, Mary wood Russell and my son Nicholas Murello) and our Veterans from Post 1776 for continuing this important annual event honoring our local fallen veterans.
Last Friday Morris county informed the Mayors and Administrators that the County was selected by the State to operate one of the first 6 vaccination mega-sites in early January 2021. The site will be at the Rockaway Townsquare Mall and vaccinations are anticipated to start for essential workers (Group 1B) first, followed by those aged 65 and older, and adults with high-risk medical conditions and then the general public who choose to be vaccinated. More information on the timing of these vaccinations will be provided as we receive it.
It is with a heavy heart that I report today that the Washington Township Health Department, in conjunction with the New Jersey Department of Health, one additional death due to COVID-19 in Washington Township in December. This brings our total deaths related to COVID-19 to 13 and our hearts go out to the family. We can also confirm a total of 354 COVID-19 cases with 41 cases remaining in isolation. Morris county has provided for free at-home COVID-19 tests for people that live or work in Morris County. Due to limited supplies, individuals will be limited to two tests per month. Sign up for free at-home testing at www.morriscountycovid19.org . You can also find your nearest testing location here https://covid19.nj.gov/pages/testing.
The Washington Township Health Department will hold a Free Rabies Clinic will be held on Saturday, January 16, 2021. The clinic is open to any resident of the State of NJ and will be held at the DPW building located at 54 Rock Road in Long Valley, NJ. The Clinic will be run differently due to COVID restrictions. The Health Department is only taking appointments for the clinic this year. An appointment must be made by calling the Health Department at 908-876-3650.
The Township has officially been awarded $84,000 for one of two open space grant applications to Morris County. NJCF also received a grant to preserve a nearby property.
We have also been awarded $129,000 in grant funding (page 3) from the LGEF application the Township Committee authorized and have received a request for additional information for a $140,000 application to the NJDOH; I expect to receive an official notification by the Work Session.
We have officially been awarded a $321,000 NJDOT grant for Rock Road.
I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a happy new year.
Mayor’s Update on November 16, 2020 Township Committee Regular Meeting
Mayor Murello: This morning, I was with the recreation department as we handed out 55 Thanksgiving lunches to our Seniors. Thank you to the Rec Department staff, Darlene and Bernadette, and Janice for putting that event together to provide free meals to our seniors.
The governor has issued a new curfew order for bars, restaurants and lounges that serve food and drink that they must close their indoor premises for business by 10 pm each day and cannot open until at least 5 am the following day. Outdoor dining, takeout, and delivery services may continue past 10 pm. The Governor has also added more states to the restriction list requiring any person travelling to these states to quarantine for 14 days. As of Tuesday, November 10, 45 states and U.S. jurisdictions are on the list of "impacted states” you can find the full list of states here: https://tinyurl.com/y5k8yg8m
The Governor also put new restrictions on indoor and outdoor gatherings this morning. Effective tomorrow, Indoor gatherings are limited to a MAXIMUM of 10 people and effective Nov 23rd, outdoor gatherings are limited to a MAXIMUM of 150 people. For more informant on these new restrictions, visit: https://covid19.nj.gov
Please join me this Wednesday, November 18th, 2020, at 7:00pm, when Msgr. Ray Lopatesky will be holding the annual Law Enforcement mass to thank members of Law Enforcement and their families for their sacrifices at the Our Lady of the Mountain Church. Everyone is invited to attend
The annual Thanksgiving morning West Morris Central memorial 5K Turkey Trot will take place again this year, with a number of changes for safety including a reduced number of runners and spaced out start times. To get more information and register, please visit: https://buff.ly/35q4fOm
Washington township will be having a Holiday Home Decorating Contest this year. Decorate your home front yard or business in the most creative or festive way possible. Judging will be from 12/7 - 12/9 and winners will be announced at a special brief award ceremony scheduled for Saturday, December 12, 2020 at 4pm at Rock Spring Park. Registrations need to be received by the Washington Township Recreation dept. no later than Monday, November 30, 2020 at 2pm. For more information visit: https://tinyurl.com/y3rtummj
Please join me again this year at noon on December 19th for the annual memorial service and wreath laying on Wreaths Across America event at the Our Lady of the Mountain church. The town will lay wreaths at 363 graves of Washington Township veterans. You can still sponsor a wreath here: https://tinyurl.com/y4vxqshe
I want to wish everyone a happy and safe Thanksgiving.
Mayor’s Update on October 19, 2020 Township Committee Regular Meeting
Mayor Murello: Washington Township is holding a free Recycling Event on November 7, 2020 from 8:00am to noon. It will be held at the Department of Public Works at 54 Rock Road. We will collect: E-Waste (a list of accepted items is on the Township website), Rigid Plastic and Brush Chipping up to 3’ x 3” in diameter (no leaves or grass). This is a no cost drop off for Township Residents only. Proof of residency must be provided.
The New Jersey Department of Health has issued Halloween Celebration Guidance available on the Township’s website and social media.
Trick or treating hours in Washington Township are set by Chapter 74 of the Township Code. Trick or treating by any person shall take place in Washington Township only between the hours of 2:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. on October 31 of each year. There is a 10 p.m. curfew Oct. 28 until Nov. 1 of each year.
The Washington Township Health Department has confirmed a total of 162 cases of Coronavirus in town as of Friday. 149 cases have been released from isolation, 1 case is pending and there have been no new deaths.
A reminder that, because of the Governor's Order, there will be no in person machine voting on election day in NJ, except for persons with disabilities. If you show up to vote on Election Day, you will only be permitted to vote using a paper provisional ballot. You can drop off your vote by mail ballots that you received at any of the 15 boxes in Morris County, or at the box at the polling location on Election Day. if you still have not received your ballot, you can call the County Clerk at 973-285-6066.
Unfortunately, we have only received part of our flu vaccine order this year. We have no high dose available for our senior population at this time. We have received regular, Quadrivalent vaccines. The vaccines are being offered on a first come, first served basis, by appointment only between the hours of 1:00pm and 6:00pm on Thursday, October 22. Unlike previous years the Health Department will be using the Senior Center on E. Springtown Rd. for the flu clinic. The consent form, hold harmless letter and more information on procedures for a safe clinic are available on www.wtmorris.net
Tonight, the Township Committee will be discussing potential road projects to put out to bid next year for which field surveying and bid preparation will need to be done.
Road work done in 2020 was:
Naughright Road-8037 feet. Fawn ridge to Fairview Ave
Mission Road 4046 feet. Naughright Road to Marjorie Drive. DPW/Tilcon
William Way 2696 feet. All. DPW/Tilcon
Nestling Wood 2286 feet. Flocktown to Button Wood. DPW/Tilcon
Brook Lawn Dr. 1626 feet. All
Long Hill 2300 feet. Oxford Lane to the Township line.
Total Feet 20,991. Miles=3.97
Oil and Chip:
Drakestown Road 4632 feet. Double Coat
Middle Valley Road 4000 feet.
Black River Road 2450 feet. Double Coat
Heath Lane 1720 feet. Double Coat
MT. Lebanon 6300 feet.
Total Feet 19,102. Miles=3.62
The DPW spent 2,2375 hours on base and drainage repairs on William Way, Mission Road and Nestling Wood before the milling and paving done through the county co-op.
Mayor’s Update at September 21, 2020 Township Committee Regular Meeting
Mayor Murello: We began this evening’s meeting with a moment of silence in remembrance of the 19th anniversary of the attacks occurring on September 11th 2001. It is my hope that all our schools will honor the 20th anniversary next year with a moment of silence and lowering their flags to half-staff at the start of the school day.
In the last couple of weekends, we have had multiple vehicle break-ins overnight in people’s driveways. Please remember to lock your cars, never leave the keys, or other valuables in your vehicles and also lock all of the exterior doors to your house. The WTPD has announced an exam on October 24th to hire a Patrol Officer. Information can be found on the Washington Township Police Department’s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/wtpdmorris
I will be participating on a call with my fellow local Mayors with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities this week, facilitated by Assemblywoman Aura Dunn. I plan on discussing our Township’s frustration with the power outages in this area, looking for a plan from JCP&L for more proactive tree trimming and infrastructure improvements and question why JCP&L did not offer reimbursement after the prolonged outage in August for Tropical Storm Isaias, as other utilities did, for customers who lost food and medications.
The annual Washington Township Flu Clinic will be held again this year and details will be forthcoming. You can visit www.wtmorris.org for more information as it becomes available.
A paper shredding event will be held Saturday, September 26, 2020 from 8:00 am to 11:00 am at the DPW garage at 54 rock road. Stickers can be obtained from the DPW office. The first three banker size boxes are free. All boxes must have stickers, additional stickers are $10.00 each, 3 additional banker size boxes permitted.
Next Friday, October 2nd, there will be a ceremony before the start of the WMCHS football Game at West Morris Central High School recognizing Jamie Smith Day, which is October 3rd in Washington Township and in New Jersey. With the Governor’s COVID-19 limits on gatherings, this year’s ceremony will again honor Cpl. James “Jamie” Smith, a West Morris Central graduate who died a hero during a rescue mission on October 3, 1993 in Somalia, with a moment of silence before the game however, only families will be permitted to attend.
The general election this November will be primarily vote by mail this year by the order of the Governor: https://nj.gov/infobank/eo/056murphy/pdf/EO-177.pdf
I know there still is confusion around the voting options people have. The Township will have one polling location open (The Senior Center) for people that want to vote using a paper provisional ballot, or for persons with disabilities. Every registered voter will receive a Vote by Mail ballot sometime around the first week in October and they can return them either; by the USPS mail, using a voter drop box (locations can be found on the County Elections Page, https://elections.morriscountynj.gov/ways-to-vote/#boxes or by dropping them off at the polling location in town. Your deadline to register to vote in the general election is October 13th. You can verify your registration at the County’s Election Page; https://voter.svrs.nj.gov/registration-check
Mayor’s Update on June 15, 2020 Township Committee Regular Meeting
Mayor Murello: It has been 89 days since the first confirmed case of Coronavirus in Washington Township. Throughout that time, the Township has been providing daily updates on the cases, openings and closings, and other information that has been changing rapidly. In order to follow the Governor’s orders and the State’s guidelines, we have seen our schools closed and our children working remotely, limited access to our parks and fields and our small businesses struggling. But our residents have been showing remarkable patience and understanding all for the benefit of the community. But today I’m happy to report that we are beginning to see our economy and health recover with partial indoor shopping and outdoor dining permitted. Drive up service at the Library is also permitted today.
Beginning June 15, municipal offices will be available by phone and email from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Thursday. The offices will remain closed to the public for the time being. However, the Township of Washington has been implementing precautionary measures to prepare for reopening to the public on a limited basis. The plans are designed to focus on the safety of staff and the public, creating guidelines to address the fluid situation consistently across all locations, developing (and modifying) plans to develop protocols to return to usual operating levels. At this time, no standards or guidelines have been issued by the state.
On June 22nd we will continue this process by re-opening our athletic fields. But we have not received guidance for what will be permitted on them as of yet. Our Recreation department has started taking registrations for summer camps. For more information on summer recreation programs call the recreation office at (908) 876-5941 or email them at [email protected] . On July 6th, we anticipate larger groups of up to 500 people will also be permitted, although that also has not been confirmed.
There has only been one additional confirmed case of Coronavirus in town since June 1st. This has been a very difficult time for everyone and I want to thank you all for doing what you needed to do to get us to this point. But we are by no means ready to go back to normal and I suspect that some of these changes are here for the long term.
Due to COVID-19, the Primary Election has been moved to July 7th this year. All registered Republicans and Democrats will be receiving a vote by mail ballot for the election (if you haven’t received one already) – please do not throw it away! inactive registered Republicans and Democrats, and Unaffiliated voters, will be sent a mail-in ballot application designed specifically for this election. You will need to return the application by June 30 to receive your ballot and vote.
Filling out and returning your vote by mail ballot is easy, and you can find additional information at: https://www.wtmorris.org .You can return your ballot by mail or there will be a ballot drop box at the Mount Olive town hall. I’ve heard from many people that say they are not using the mail-in ballots and will vote in person. Please note that only one polling location will be open on July 7th, the Senior Center. However, there will be NO voting machines available that day. You will only be able to file a Provisional Paper Ballot that day. For a list of FAQ’s, visit the County Clerk’s page: https://elections.morriscountynj.gov/
Finally, I want to congratulate the class of 2020 and wish you all the best of luck as you continue to your next successes.
Stay safe everyone
Mayor’s Update on May 18, 2020 Township Committee Regular Meeting
Mayor Murello: Though not as eventful as the month before our April meeting, the past month has still been a busy one for Washington Township municipal government. As I have been providing updates almost daily online, some you may have heard many of the following items previously.
The Washington Township Health Department, in conjunction with the New Jersey Department of Health, has confirmed 108 covid-19 positive cases. There have been 12 deaths reported and 34 cases have been confirmed as released from isolation through this afternoon.
Our OEM and Finance Department have coordinated joint purchases of PPE with other nearby municipalities and health providers.
I’m excited to announce that the Rec Department is bringing back the Drive-in to town. We are planning Drive-In Movies at Rock Spring Park planned for mid-June and again on July 31 at no cost to township residents. The movies have not been selected yet.
Parks, playgrounds, and athletic fields are closed, with the exception of tennis courts, but township walking trails and paths are open.
Township staff have been updating online lists of local dining options for take-out, curbside pickup or delivery as well as local stores with senior/vulnerable shopper hours. Other staff members and volunteers have been making calls to those on our well-check list which will be ongoing.
The Township Committee extended the property tax grace period to May 26 at a special meeting held May 7. Our operations committee met last week. Our bank balance was approximately $2 million less than at the same point last year. However, at approximately $9 million, it was enough to cover this month’s payment to the two school districts, the county and our anticipated payroll and other expenses - taking into account reductions in hours and holds on some spending that were done previously.
The Governor's office has stated on my weekly mayor’s call yesterday to expect more guidance for pools and camps this week.
Stay safe everyone -
Mayor’s Update on April 20, 2020 Township Committee Regular Meeting
Mayor Murello: Over the last month or so, I have been providing updates almost daily online so tonight I am going to provide a summary of the many things that have happened since our last Regular Meeting. You may have read much of this already or heard of it at our last meeting so I will focus on the more recent developments.
This has been a very trying month for everyone. On March 18, Washington Township had its first confirmed COVID-19 positive case and I declared a State of Emergency. The Township’s health department has reported a total of 66 confirmed cases of COVID-19 through end-of-day yesterday and they work into the evening contacting potential cases and close contacts so we will have an update as usual online tomorrow morning. Thirteen cases have been confirmed released from isolation and sadly, six deaths have been reported. To protect the privacy of any persons involved, we do not release any personal identifying information.
Parks, playgrounds, courts and athletic fields are closed but township walking trails and paths are open. After state and county parks were closed by Executive Order on April 7, some lots at municipal parks were closed to prevent potential overcrowding. There have been no reported issues since. Police and code enforcement staff have been dealing with enforcement of the non-essential construction prohibition and construction code violations though.
We’ve been working to provide more and more to the public online. I hosted three Virtual Bingo sessions last week and as we had about 80 people register for the last one, we will be holding more virtual events like these in coming weeks, please email keep on eye on the township website and social media for more info.
Township staff have compiled online lists of local dining options for take-out, curbside pickup or delivery as well as local stores with senior/vulnerable shopper hours. Other staff members and volunteers have been making calls to those on our well-check list which will be ongoing. A COVID-19 Portal was also added to the township’s website. Our public information assistant has also been putting out fun facts and a photo contest on our social media, the winner of the latter is Janine Memon Dietz for her picture of the Columbia Trail in Fall. I want to thank my fellow virtual judges Ken Zarouni, Leona Harrington, Geralyn Hickey, and Mary Grant for their assistance. A framed copy of the winning photograph will be hung in the meeting room.
The Washington Township Municipal Offices were closed to the public, except for drop-off and pick-up and offices were staffed in a staggered manner beginning one month ago to prevent spread of any illness should they impact Township employees. All office employees were supplied with chromebooks or laptops and call forwarding set up to work from home as much as possible. Police and DPW are also working altered, staggered schedules. The Washington Township Police Department has started an online reporting system to help people get assistance with non-emergent matters.
I have received some inquiries about the May 1 property tax due date. By statute, the municipality can establish a ten-day grace period which we have done. This quarter the due date will be the 11th because the 10th is a Sunday. The state has not authorized a longer extension. There was a bill to do so. This was stopped largely through the efforts of the NJEA because it would have delayed payments to schools and counties until taxes were collected.
On tonight’s agenda we have the public hearing on the municipal budget which includes a tax rate increase of roughly 1 percent. For the average assessed home of about $436,000, the increase will be about $22 per home.
Many of our students have missed out on so much this Spring with their distance learning. Not just the after school activities like sports, clubs and the arts, but the social aspect of school. None more so than the WMCHS Class of 2020. Over the weekend, I have had several conversations with Principal Tim Rymer of WMCHS and Chief Almer. The HS is committed to having graduation this June and I have promised the Township will offer whatever support the high school needs to make sure that the class of 2020 has a graduation on June 11th at 5:00 PM. I don't know what that’s going to look like at this point, but we will make sure that our graduates are given the commencement that they deserve from WMCHS as they start the next chapter of their lives while complying with the Governor's Executive Orders on gatherings and social distancing and keeping everyone safe.
Since the beginning of this emergency, I’ve watched our community come together like I’ve never seen before. People have started online groups to help our medical staff and first responders, offer food and supplies to people that can't get access to them, create PPE for others, shop or deliver groceries to seniors that can't get out and just offer emotional support to our neighbors. I know that this month has been difficult and we still have some time to go before we can start to get to some level of normalcy. Whatever that new “normal” may look like. You all have made me very honored to represent you as your Mayor.
Mayor’s Update on March 16, 2020 Township Committee Regular Meeting
Mayor Murello: In accordance with guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control, the Township of Washington is encouraging employees and customers to observe social distancing. The Township of Washington offers the ability to make payments online for taxes, alarm registration, and most tickets.
Please call ahead to obtain payment amounts for taxes, permits, etc. and identifying info for the memo line if you wish to pay by check and leave it in the municipal building dropbox which will be checked frequently. Department contact phone numbers and email are available on the departments page at wtmorris.net. Many documents and forms can also be found by clicking on the document button on our site.
Out of an abundance of caution, our staff has been asking inspections be scheduled at least two weeks out if anyone in the household, business or other enclosed area to be inspected has fever, cough or shortness of breath.
We are encouraging employees and the public to maintain six feet separation and decline to shake hands during in-person interactions.
The Township St Patty’s Day luncheon meals will be available ‘to go’ or delivered for those who can’t drive.
For seniors enrolled in any of the upcoming senior/recreation classes or programs registrations can be transferred to a summer or fall session.
The Township is working to ensure support for local seniors with their grocery shopping needs and Meals on Wheels. At this time we are looking for potential volunteers to help delivery groceries and supplement our Meals on Wheels programs. If you are able to help please contact Donna Daly at 908-876-8623 or [email protected]
The New Jersey Poison Information and Education System (NJPIES) opened a COVID-19 Information Hotline to assist in answering questions from the general public. Residents should contact the call center at 1-800-222-1222 or, if in NJ but using a non-NJ cell phone, at 1-800-962-1253. The call center is available 24/7 and can accommodate calls in multiple languages. Clinicians should contact their local health department for guidance. And I also want to note, the Health Department does not conduct COVID-19 lab testing.
For more information, residents can also contact the Washington Township Health Department at 908-876-3650.
On tonight’s agenda we have the introduction of the municipal budget which includes a tax rate increase of roughly 1 percent. For the average assessed home of about $436,000, the increase will be about $22. Also, on the agenda is a presentation of the regional school district which will also have a minimal tax increase.
Mayor’s Update on February 12, 2020 Township Committee Regular Meeting
Mayor Murello: Please visit the Township website, www.wtmorris.org, for novel Coronavirus updates from the Health Department. As of Feb. 4 there were 11 confirmed cases and The US Department of State has issued a Level 4 Travel Advisory asking people not to travel to China due to the coronavirus outbreak. The public can also call NJ Poison Information and Education System (NJPIES) for general questions at 1-800-222-1222.
The Washington Township Community Garden is now accepting plot applications. A link can be found on the Township website.
The Washington Township Police Department is looking for high schoolers, interested in a career in law enforcement, to join their Explorer Post starting this spring. The Explorer program is a great opportunity for young men and women aged 14 to 20 to learn about the police service. It is overseen by the Boy Scouts of America as part of their Learning for Life program. More information can be found on the police department’s website.
The annual St. Patrick’s Day Senior Luncheon will take place at 11am on Tuesday, March 17, 2020 at the Washington Township Senior Center. This popular program fills up quickly, so please promptly send your nonrefundable resident fee of $10.50 and/or $11.50 for non-residents before the deadline of March 9, 2020. Registration info can be found online and at the Rec Department on Rock Road.
At the request of the Environmental Commission, which proposed an Invasive Species Ordinance, their presentation has been rescheduled to the March 16th Township Committee meeting. We will have a presentation on the hockey rink tonight. Due to difficulty in reaching an agreement with the K-8 school district, the new proposal has the hockey rink at Harrington Park at a slightly smaller size in order to comply with Highlands, which school districts are exempt from, and wetlands regulations.
Beginning in March, we will be posting historical facts and having a photo contest to celebrate Washington Township leading up to Local Government Week which is April 19 to 25. Photos will be judged by local judges and winners will be announced. More details will follow on social media and the Township website.
Mayor's Update at January 20, 2020 Township Committee Regular Meeting
Mayor Murello: Tonight, we began our annual budget process with the Police Department which will continue with future public meetings scheduled on January 29th and February 20th. Both meetings start at 6:30 PM at the Senior Center. I encourage people who are interested in the municipal budget to attend.
Last Saturday, the township had our annual free rabies clinic and A total of 214 dogs and 56 cats were inoculated. The Township will not have another rabies clinic this year, however, the health department has agreements with surrounding areas that will inoculate animals for rabies free of charge. For information call the health department at (908) 876-3650.
The Board of Education started the process of installing interior and exterior bus cameras in the school buses. I wanted to clarify some information. First, the cameras were purchased by the Board of Education and the Township and the WTPD were not included or consulted in that decision. I understand that the cameras can be used as additional evidence if a complaint is made for an event either inside or outside of a school bus. However, the WTPD has no authority over the camera video and will not be using the information to issue violations. The process will remain that the bus drivers will need to initiate a complaint to the municipal court. The WTPD will assist the Transportation department and the Board of Ed but has no custody of the bus camera video and the public needs to contact the school district for video information.
Recently there has been discussion around town about the K-8 Board of Education’s plan that they approved in November to have a public vote to issue bonds of approximately $4.5 million to fund four projects at two of our schools, Old Farmer’s Road School and the Long Valley Middle School. This plan proposes to use approximately $2.5M in school district capital funds and receive approximately $1.7 million in a debt service grant from the State to complete the four projects this year. However, it is unclear which projects, if any, would be completed if the referendum is not passed.
The majority of the feedback I have received from residents centers around the lack of information on when this plan was formulated, why do we have to borrow money and what has the Board of Education done in the past that necessitated that all of these, now “priority,” projects be done now. While Superintendent Mohre presented here in December, and has held other community meetings at the schools, the details on this plan have been largely limited to parents in the district, social media and the majority of residents are in the dark. I encourage everyone to get more information on this plan at the District’s website www.wtschools.org or attend one of the last 2 open public meetings with the Superintendent on January 21 and 23 at 10:30 AM at the Board of Ed building, before the vote.
For everyone’s information, the special bond referendum vote is scheduled for Tuesday, January 28th at your normal polling locations, which will be open from 6 am – 8 pm.
There will be a free hearing screening for adults Tuesday, February 4th, 2020 at 11:15am at the Golden Age Senior Group meeting at the Washington Township Senior Center on East Springtown Rd. This screening is open to any adults. More info is available on www.wtmorris.org
Also on the township website are Volunteer applications for Township Boards or Committees which can now be submitted online. I encourage local business proprietors to consider the newly created associate membership for the Economic Development Committee.
Lastly, NJDOT will hold a public meeting on February 3, 6:00 PM at the Hackettstown Municipal Building. The meeting will explain NJDOT’s project at four intersections along Routes 46, 57, and 182 to improve mobility and reduce congestion.
Mayor's Report January 4, 2020 Reorganization Meeting of the Township Committee
Mayor Murello: Good morning everyone and Happy New Year. Thank you for coming out today and I would like to start this morning by thanking my fellow Committeemen for putting their faith in me to serve our community as Mayor for a second year. I would also like to congratulate Committeemen Forsbrey and Oborn. Lastly I would be remiss if I did not thank our township volunteers, Administrator and township employees, as well as the families of the volunteers and of those of us on the Township Committee, especially my wife Kristine and my children Nick and Olivia, as none of us could serve our community without your support and understanding.
I’d also like to recognize and welcome the following distinguished guests for joining us today:
Senator Anthony Bucco, Senator Tom Kean, Assemblywoman Aura Dunn, Sheriff James Gannon, Morris County Clerk, Ann Grossi, Morris County Freeholders; Director Deborah Smith, Deputy Director Steven Shaw, Doug Cabana, and (Former WT Mayor) John Krickus. Also former committeemen Jim Liabraten and Walt Cullen. Washington Township is always grateful for the excellent working relationships we have with our representatives.
As we move into a new year and a new decade, the accomplishments we have made in the Township are impossible to not recognize. It’s important to note however, that our accomplishments could not have been achieved without the hard work of the Township Administrator and my fellow Committeemen. We work collaboratively to benefit the people of the township. Recently an independent group that researches communities nationwide determined again that Washington Township is one of the best communities to live in giving it an “A” rating.
Over the last year, we have increased our shared service agreements to include Courts with Mendham Borough in addition to extending our court and police agreements with Califon Borough. Today we will also have a resolution for a new shared services agreement with Washington Borough for animal control services. In total, the Township has 25 shared service agreements. Though in some cases we receive services from another municipality, in most cases Washington Township provides services benefiting the recipients and increasing revenue to our budget. In 2019, we received about $900,000 in shared service revenue, an increase of almost $200,000 from the previous year. Money that goes directly to serve the people of the Township.
Washington Township also continues to benefit from grants. There was over $350,000 in grants in the 2019 budget that included about $200,000 for Naughright Road work, between Bartley Road and Fairview and about $80,000 for a new trail in Harrington Park which will be completed in 2020. On average, the Township applies for and receives $350,000 in grants annually. However, we have already been awarded two grants at the end of 2019 and the start of 2020 totaling over $500,000 for more work on Naughright Road, which will be included in the upcoming budget.
Over the last year, I have listened to residents about the quality of our infrastructure. We have about 140 miles of roads and we work with the County and our DPW every year to prioritize the roads in greatest need of repair. In 2019, we continued to work on improving our infrastructure by budgeting more than $900,000 on paving and resurfacing projects, an increase of more than $500,000 annually from 6 years ago. The Committee also appropriated more than $100,000 for replacing and improving the exterior of the Municipal Building. Though the municipal building is only subject to capital review by the Planning Board, the Township asked the Historic Preservation Commission for its input, then submitted its plans to them for a certificate of appropriateness, just as a homeowner in the historic district would. That plan continues to progress and I hope will result in a completed project this year.
Our recreation department continues to deliver almost daily programs for our families and seniors in town. Including; movies under the stars, sports and fitness programs and senior holiday lunches. But having diverse programs isn’t enough and we will continue to maintain and improve our recreation facilities and fields which are some of the best around. We have also continued to improve our parks and open spaces in town. In 2019 we installed the more than 1½ miles of walking paths at Rock Spring Park and, as I previously mentioned, we will be adding additional walking trails at Harrington Park this year.
Washington Township has the best emergency service departments. Our all-volunteer fire departments and first aid squad are the best trained, and hardest working volunteer force in the area and the envy of our neighboring towns. We continued to support our departments in 2019 by working with them to deliver a new fire truck and a new ambulance, as well as to reserve over $600,000 for emergency equipment and vehicles over the last two years. This is due in large part to the Township Committee and emergency services working together to obtain grant funding and develop, and stick to, five-year capital replacement plans. While we all hope to never need the services of our emergency departments, we are thankful when they respond when we do and we will remain committed to keeping them equipped.
Our Township police department remains one of the top municipal forces in the State. In 2019 the Department received accreditation by the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police. A process that took two years and over 2,000 hours to complete. The Department’s community-oriented approach to policing included events like Coffee with a Cop, School Resource Officers, and open forums on public safety, opioids, vaping, and violence with the goal of keeping our Township safe and maintaining our excellent quality of life. We recently swore in three new officers to the department and, with upcoming retirements, we anticipate promotions.
While continuing to improve our town, deliver the services and equipment needed, the Committee hears the residents about property taxes and remains fiscally conservative with municipal budget. Washington Township has the second lowest percentage municipal tax rate in Morris County. Statewide, the average share of property taxes that went to municipalities was about 30%, while about 50% went to schools and 20% to counties. In 2019, 18% of property taxes went to the municipality and 72% to schools in Washington Township.
In the 2019 budget, the municipal share of the tax increase was roughly 1.5%. Over the last 5 years, the Municipal tax increase has been less than 2% annually. In addition, we have not in that time used any exceptions to the 2% cap allowed by the state. Furthermore, the Committee in 2019 used the lowest percent of surplus funds in the last five years, allowing the Township to pay down our debit and increase our surplus more rapidly and responsibly. As we begin to work on the budget for this year, a process that is open to the public, the Committee will continue this trend to keep the municipal share of the property taxes low and deliver the services needed for our residents.
Looking ahead into 2020, the Township is participating in the county’s five-year hazard mitigation plan update. Once complete, the Township will be seeking grant funding for hazards identified in the plan, like the emerald ash borer. We will continue to work on public education with the Shade Tree Commission and acquisition of equipment to enhance removal of ash trees subject to the infestation. I have also begun review of our ordinances so the Committee can reduce the red tape for homeowners looking to improve their property. We want our departments and Boards to have a culture of working with homeowners and small businesses. Finally, I have also requested the power company to do a comprehensive review of the Township’s tree trimming program and aging power infrastructure in order to take a proactive approach to mitigating future large-scale power outages.
Washington Township is a great place to live and we are going to keep it that way. I want to conclude by again thanking the Committee, Township Administrator and all of the employees and volunteers for a great 2019 and for an optimistic new year. Thank you very much and now we will return to our agenda items, appointments and then we will swear in our newly appointed positions.
Mayor’s Update on December 16, 2019 Township Committee Regular Meeting
Mayor Murello: Saturday was a busy day in Washington Township. In the morning, the First Aid Squad conducted a rescue drill at the scenic overlook in Schooley’s Mountain Park using the ropes. That afternoon, myself, Committeeman Short and Vice-Mayor Roehrich were at the Wreaths Across America ceremony which was held at noon at Our Lady of the Mountain church. The event was coordinated by the Long Valley Knights of Columbus with more than 375 wreaths sponsored by the community. An honor guard was provided by the Washington Township Police Department and Boy Scout Troop 36. Troop 36 also provided a bugler to conclude the ceremony. The Washington Township Veterans Association, Scouts and volunteers laid these wreaths on 320 veteran’s graves at the 5 cemeteries around the Township. Also on Saturday was the annual Afternoon with Santa. Over 120 guests attended. The event was organized by the Recreation Department and Girl Scout Troops 90405 & 94090 helped with kid’s activities.
There have been other recent events in the Township. The annual Holiday Happenings events were held on Sunday, December 8th. Thank you to all of the local organizations that contributed to another great year of holiday events. The Rec Department held our annual senior holiday luncheon on the 9th. Over 50 seniors were in attendance along with myself, Committeeman Short and Santa Klaus. The rec department did an excellent job as did the Garden Club which provided the centerpieces as well as the Kids for Kindness and the Girl Scouts which provided the goody bags.
On tonight’s agenda is a resolution appointing an architect to prepare plans for an addition to the Senior Center.
On Wednesday night the Historic Preservation Commission will be reviewing the Township’s application for a certificate of appropriateness for improvements to the municipal building.
I also want to invite everyone to the Township Committee’s reorganization meeting which will be held Saturday, January 4 at 10 a.m. at the municipal building.
Mayor’s Update at November 18, 2019 Township Committee Regular Meeting
Mayor Murello: Good evening everyone. Today, we had our annual Senior Thanksgiving luncheon at the Tracy Tobin Community Room in the Senior Center. I was happy to greet over 50 seniors attend and our Recreation Department was helped by the Junior Women’s Club. Thank you to all the community groups that donated thief time and talents to make the event happen.
We also have some upcoming events:
The Rec Department is now accepting letters to be forwarded to Santa at the North Pole. Letters can be dropped off in the red drop box at the Recreation Department, at Washington Twp. Public Library or mailed to: Recreation Department at 50 Rock Road in Long Valley. Children’s Letters must be in the recreation office by December 16 for Santa to have time to respond.
The annual Turkey Trot will be held Thanksgiving Day, November 28 at the West Morris Central high school athletic field and campus. The event begins at 9AM, rain or shine. Registration can be done online at www.wmcturkeytrot.com
The annual lighting of the town’s Christmas Tree and holiday happenings events will take place on Sunday December 1st from 3-6 PM at Zion Lutheran Church.
The annual Senior Holiday lunch will be on Monday December 9th at 11 Am at Black Oak Golf Club.
The Wreaths Across America ceremony will be on Saturday December 14 at noon at Our Lady of the Mountain church. im happy to report that the community sponsorships have exceeded the goal of 300 wreaths. You can still sponsor wreaths at www.wreathsacrossamerica.org
Tonight the Township will be renewing several shared service agreements for the provision of Fire Prevention, and Land Use Administration and will be renewing Court and Police services next month.
Mayor’s Update at October 21, 2019 Township Committee Regular Meeting
Mayor Murello: Good evening everyone. We have several upcoming events:
On October 23rd, please join me, Police Commissioner Short and Chief Almer for an open discussion about any and all concerns you may have. We welcome all residents to join us for a cup of coffee and for some open conversation about what is going on in town and around us. The first session will be at 10am at the Coffee Potter. The second session will be at Police Headquarters at 7pm. Each will be 1-2 hours in length depending on the turn out. Bring your questions and we hope to see you there
Trick or Treating in Washington Township is between the hours of 2:00 PM and 9:00 PM on October 31. There is a 10:00 PM curfew for juveniles from October 28 - November 1.
On Wednesday November 6th. The WTPD will present on Current Drug Trends. Join the Washington Township Police and K-9 Officer Mike Thompson as he reviews all of the current drug trends that are affecting our community. These range from opioids, marijuana, vaping, and everything in between. NARCAN and its application will also be discussed. The first session will be at 10am and the second at 7pm, both at Police headquarters in the training room. Please RSVP with the WTPD, but walk-ins are welcome. Sessions will be approximately 2 hours long.
Washington Township Recreation and the Police Department are offering an American Heart Association; Heart saver Program Course for the ADULT community. The class will be offered on Tuesday, November 12, 2019 from 6-10 pm. Registration can be done online.
The annual Turkey Trot is a community event being held Thanksgiving Day, November 28, 2019 at the West Morris Central high school athletic field and campus. The event begins at 9AM, rain or shine. Registration can be done online at www.wmcturkeytrot.com .
More info and links to registration for events can be found at www.wtmorris.org
The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 5. The deadline for Voter Registration was October 15.
At our September meeting, the Township Committee authorized bid specifications be drawn up for the replacement of exterior windows and siding of the municipal building. The architect retained by the Township expects to have an application available to the state Historic Preservation office for approval and to the Township’s Historic Preservation Commission for an upcoming meeting. Contrary to what was stated in the media recently, approvals from both of those entities were obtained before the renovation to the building which was in 2004 not 1999. Though an application for county historic funds was denied because the building “lacked historical integrity” both the HPC and the state preservation office are requiring applications because the building, though it is not on a historic register, is in a historic district and the Township Committee wants the input from these groups.
Mayor’s Update at September 16, 2019 Township Committee Regular Meeting
Mayor Murello: On Friday October 4th, there will be a ceremony before the start of the Homecoming football Game at West Morris Central recognizing Jamie Smith Day. The ceremony will include members of Jamie’s family, a flag ceremony with our Veterans from post 1776 and will honor Cpl. James “Jamie” Smith, a West Morris Central graduate who died a hero during a rescue mission on October 3, 1993 in Somalia.
The annual Washington Township Flu Clinic will be held on Thursday, October 17, 2019 between 4:30pm and 7:00pm at the Municipal Building, 43 Schooley's Mountain Rd. in Long Valley. Medicare recipients must bring their Medicare card and pre-register at the Health Department. You can visit www.wtmorris.org for more information.
The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 5. The deadline for Voter Registration is October 15. Forms can be picked up at the Clerk's Office of the Municipal Building or on the website of the Morris County Board of Elections.
County Route 513 (E. Mill Road) between East Valley Brook Road in Washington Township and Route 206 in Chester Borough will be undergoing roadwork from September 18 to October 16. More info will be on the website when available.
On September 25th, the Morris County Sheriff Department’s Hope One van will be on hand at an outreach to help and support families and friends dealing with addiction at 6:30 PM at VASA Park in Budd Lake.
The Market at Long valley continues to operate on Thursdays from 3-7 PM at the site next to the First Aid Squad building on East Mill Road
The Wreaths across america event will occur again this year at 12 noon on Saturday, December 14, 2019 at the Our Lady of the Mountain Church. Thank you to the WTPD and the Long Valley Knights of Columbus for taking this very important event over. Please consider donating a wreath for $15 at www.wreathsacrossamerica.org.
As we are in the peak time for weather related power outages for this area, I want to remind everyone to sign up for the towns Rave Alert / Smart 911 notification system. For more information you can visit the township’s website www.wtmorris.org
Mayor’s Update at August 19, 2019 Township Committee Regular Meeting
Mayor Murello: First and foremost, I’d like to thank the Washington Township Police Department for their fast and effective response to the shooting two weeks ago. I want to reiterate that due to the response of the WTPD, the public was never in any danger. I also want to thank all of the the other responders: Long Valley First Aid Squad, Morris County Prosecutor’s Office, Morris County Sheriff’s Office, Mt. Olive Police Department, Chester Township Police Department, Morris County OEM, the Morris County Sheriff's Office Emergency Response Team , Atlantic Health and St. Claire’s Advanced ALS.
The Fireworks, Food Truck and Green Festival will be held Saturday, August 24 behind the Long Valley Middle School beginning at 4 p.m. The rain date is Sunday, August 25. Green Festival vendors and exhibitors can register on the township website.
Fairmount Fire Company will be hosting a triple-wet down to celebrate 70 years of service to the residents of Washington Township, the arrival of their new fire engine and the arrival of their new command vehicle on September 7th at 6 p.m. The company will be hosting a tricky tray fundraiser on Sept. 6 at 6 p.m. at the firehouse to help offset the costs of equipment for their new fire engine.
On the agenda is a discussion about potential roadwork for 2020. The Public will have an opportunity to comment and tonight's meeting will be followed by another to discuss and likely a decision on bid projects at a September meeting.
Mayor’s Update at July 15, 2019 Township Committee Regular Meeting
Mayor Murello: The Naughright Road Bridge over near Bartley was opened Saturday and we will propose a resolution tonight for a change order to finish the paving from the bridge to Bartley road. I want to thank the County for prioritizing the repair of this bridge and finishing it ahead of schedule. The county still plans to replace this bridge and the one over the South Branch within 3-5 years with concrete structures.
Last week there were multiple reports of stolen vehicles in the area. 5 in the Chester area, 2 in Long valley 1 in Florham Park, and 2 in Parsippany. This is a region wide issue and In each case, the vehicles were unlocked with the keys left in the vehicle overnight. Every year, we have similar reports with the same conditions, so please lock your vehicles overnight and don't leave your keys and valuables in your cars. Report all suspicious activity to the WTPD
Phase II of the Rock Spring Park walkway has been paved and topsoil and seed was scheduled to be put out today.
Roadwork completed since June’s Mayor’s Update:
- Acorn Drive
- Nestling Wood from Spring Lane to Buttonwood
- Old Farmers Road from East Valley Brook to Overlook
Everyone is invited to meet our first responders at the Community Night Out, Tuesday, July 16. The Fifth Annual Washington Township Community Night out will be held in Rock Spring Park from 6 PM to 10 PM. This is a free family-friendly event organized by the Township's Police, Fire, and EMS. Come out for some food, games, activities, and demonstrations!
- Rain Date: July 17, 2019
The Fireworks, Food Truck and Green Festival will be held Saturday, August 24 behind the Long Valley Middle School beginning at 4 p.m. The rain date is Sunday, August 25. Green Festival vendors and exhibitors can register on the township website.
The Morris County Freeholders will hold their August 14, 2019 regular meeting at town hall. Please join us as we host the Freeholders. The meeting starts at 7:00 pm.
We were unable to reach an agreement with the Board of Education on the proposed hockey rink at the Kossmann School. The plan has been abandoned at this location and we are working to find another location in town. I wanted to thank the members of the Hockey Club and the Township’s professionals that put so much time into the proposal.
If you have not already, please sign up for RAVE, which has replaced the Township’s nixle alerts. Not only will you receive information during weather emergencies, and hurricane season is just a few months away, but also on power outages and road closures. There is a link on www.wtmorris.org
Mayor’s Update at June 17, 2019 Township Committee Regular Meeting
Mayor Murello: Before recognizing our friends who are with us here tonight, I’d like to take a minute to talk about a friend of Washington Township who is no longer with us. Former Chief George Klutz was an original member of the Washington Township Police Department. He later became Chief and served in that position for 23 years before his retirement in 1995. He remained a mentor and friend to many in our department and a prominent figure in our community.
On June 13, our Police Department was accredited by the state Chiefs’ of Police Association. Representatives from the association will make a presentation at a future public meeting on the accreditation process which took two years to complete.
Washington Township residents who did not opt-out of the Hunterdon Area Energy Cooperative have saved an average of $15 each month over the JCP&L Basic Generation cost since the program began in April 2019.
The Township started the energy co-operative last April. We were recently notified that JCP&L’s price-to-compare for June 2019 will include a temporary utility reconciliation rate. While the reconciliation rate is not part of the Basic Generation Service rate, when combined with JCP&L’s two-tiered summer rates, effective June through September, it does have an impact on savings.
Residents who use less than 860kWh per month will not see savings through the Coop and may pay slightly more – less than $2 – for their electric supply during the summer months. A majority of residents will continue to see savings throughout the summer months. More information is available on www.wtmorris.org including a phone number for questions or to opt out. Residents can opt in or out of the program at anytime by phone or online.
Phase II of the Rock Spring Park walkway will begin on or around Monday, June 24 and is expected to be completed in approximately one week.
Also beginning that week are: reconstruction of Acorn Drive and Naughright Road from Bartley to Fairview. The road will be restricted to southbound traffic with northbound detoured for approximately two days for milling and paving. The total project will take about a week. Nestling Wood from Spring Lane to Buttonwood will begin in early July. Old Farmers Road from East Valley Brook to Overlook will also be done this summer. A start date is to be determined.
Those are all municipal projects; the county will be milling and paving East Mill Road from East Valley Brook into Chester anticipated to begin by early August. The county will also be working on a bridge on Black River Road along the Lamington beginning this week. The bridge will be closed an estimated 60 to 90 days.
The Market at Long Valley will be held Thursdays starting this week from 3:00 pm - 7:00 pm until October 17 on East Mill Road, next to the Long Valley First Aid Squad Building. Vendors can register for both the Market and the Green Festival via links on the township website. The Fireworks, Food Trucks on Green Festival will be held on Saturday, August 24th beginning at 4 p.m. The rain date is August 25th.
Mayor’s Update at May 20, 2019 Township Committee Regular Meeting
Mayor Murello: On June 13, representatives of our Police Department will appear before a panel of Police Chiefs as the last step in the Department’s accreditation process.
The Market at Long Valley will be back on June 6 on East Mill Road, next to the Long Valley First Aid Squad Building. The Market will be held Thursdays from 3:00 pm - 7:00 pm until October 17. Visit www.wtmorris.org for more information.
Beginning tomorrow, JCP&L will be conducting aerial inspections by helicopter to identify the effectiveness of the prior year's herbicide application and identify any conditions requiring further inspection from the ground or corrective action. More info is also available on the Township website.
On tonight’s agenda is a public hearing on a bond ordinance. This year the Township is paying down over $820,000 in debt principal. This is the most principal paid down in a budget year since 2010 and over $100,000 more than the debt authorized by tonight’s ordinance. The ordinance authorizes $713,000 in new debt, most of which (over $600,000) is for road work while the remainder is for various building improvements.
Please join us Saturday, May 25th in Rock Spring Park at noon for the Annual Memorial Day Ceremony organized by the Washington Township Veterans Association and the Township Rec Department. The keynote speaker will be retired Lt. Col. Scott Taylor a West Morris Central graduate.
Mayor’s Update at April 15, 2019 Township Committee Regular Meeting
Mayor Murello: The adoption of the 2019 Municipal Budget is on tonight’s agenda. Before adoption there will be a public hearing at which time we will open for comments to be made. The non-grant funded portion of the budget will increase less than 1% over last year. The tax increase will be slightly more, 1.5%, due to the use of less surplus and a decrease in total ratables. For an average assessed home of $436,000, the increase in municipal property taxes will be under $30.
Washington Township is one of the first group of eight local governments to receive an Economic and Environmental Sustainability Grant award from the Highlands Council. The Township has partnered with the Musconetcong Watershed Association which is working on the removal of two damns from the Musconetcong and restoration of the river. The watershed association will provide technical oversight and the $38,500 grant will fund preparation of a stream assessment and an engineering design report.
Chief Jeffrey Almer announced today that a team of assessors from the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police (NJSACOP) will arrive on Monday, May 6, 2019, to examine all aspects of the Washington Township Police Department’s policies and procedures,management, operations, and support services. As part of this final on-site assessment, employees and members of the general public are invited to provide comments to the assessment team. Information on submitting comments can be found on www.wtmorris.org and may be done by telephone or email.
The Washington Township Police hosted an opioid discussion in conjunction with a NARCAN presentation and NARCAN Training on April 10th, about 20 members of the public attended. There will also be a free workshop on positive approaches to pain management. Chief Almer will be one of the speakers at the forum on Tuesday, April 30 at the West Morris Central Auditorium starting at 6:30 p.m.
Washington Township will host its Annual Memorial Day Ceremony to salute our brave servicemen and servicewomen who have given so much for our country. This annual event will be held on Saturday, May 25th in Rock Spring Park at noon.
The Market at Long Valley will be back on June 6 on East Mill Road, on the field between the Long Valley Pharmacy and the Long Valley First Aid Squad Building. The Market will be held Thursdays from 3:00 pm - 7:00 pm until October 17. Visit www.wtmorris.org for more information.
Mayor’s Update at March 18, 2019 Township Committee Regular Meeting
Mayor Murello: The introduction of the 2019 Municipal Budget is on tonight’s agenda. The non-grant funded portion of the budget will increase less than 1% over last year. The tax increase will be slightly more, 1.5%, due to the use of less surplus and a decrease in total ratables. For an average assessed home of $436,000, the increase in municipal property taxes will be under $30. Our capital plan includes an increase in the amount spent on paying down debt and a decrease in the amount of notes to be issued, which will have a net effect of reducing the Township’s debt by $170,000.
The Washington Township Police are hosting on April 10th at 7 p.m. an opioid discussion in conjunction with a NARCAN presentation and NARCAN Training.
The Market at Long Valley will be back on June 6 on East Mill Road, on the field between the Long Valley Pharmacy and the Long Valley First Aid Squad Building. The Market will be held Thursdays from 3:00 pm - 7:00 pm until October 17. Visit www.wtmorris.org for more information.
At a Feb. 22 hearing in Superior Court, the Township was found to have satisfied its affordable housing compliance conditions and requirements and granted a Judgement of Final Compliance and immunity from Mt Laurel lawsuits subject to adoption of a affordable spending plan. There is a resolution to adopt the spending plan, which will cover the Township through the year 2025 on tonight’s agenda.
At next month’s Work Session, we will be revisit options for the former site of Bert the Eagle at the Flocktown Road and Schooley’s Mountain Road intersection.
As there is some confusion about the energy aggregation program online, and also from the wording of the notification letter from JCP&L, there are a few points of clarification I’d like to share:
- The energy aggregation program was created by the State of New Jersey and is highly regulated by the Board of Public Utilities.
- The Township has joined the Hunterdon Area Energy Cooperative. Participation by the Township in the cooperative was approved by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs.
- This cooperative, like the Morris County Area Energy Cooperative, solicits bids for energy in accordance with the state’s energy aggregation and purchasing laws and regulations.
- IDT was the winning bidder for both coops, the rate for the Hunterdon Coop was slightly less than that of Morris. The winning bid was $.0863 for the supply portion of the bill for a term ending October 2020. The rate does not change during that time. Your JCP&L shows a “rate to compare” for the supply portion.
- The regulations require residential customers in participating communities to opt-out, the regulations do not allow for the program to be offered on an opt-in basis.
- Customers can opt-out at any-time by calling (877) 292-3904.
- JCP&L will continue to provide all emergency and safety services. JCP&L will also continue to provide customer services such as meter reading, billing and service restoration. You will also continue to only receive one bill and continue to pay JCP&L.
- This topic was discussed for several months at public meetings of the Township Committee in 2018, an ordinance was introduced, advertised in the paper, on the township website and social media and then a public hearing held. In January an information packet was mailed and posted online. Announcements were done on social media and the electronic signboard in front of the police station. Local media also provided coverage. Three town hall meetings at different locations, days and times were held in January. A video of one of those sessions is available on the mayor’s facebook page.
Mayor’s Update at February 13, 2019 Township Committee Regular Meeting
Mayor Murello:The final two upcoming budget meetings will be onTuesday, February 19th and Wednesday, February 27th. Both meetings start at 6:30 p.m. in the Senior Center and are open to the public.
Our affordable housing final compliance hearing is set for February 22 in Superior Court, at 10 a.m. in Morristown. An ordinance amending the affordable accessory apartment regulations is on the tonight’s agenda. This would change the deed restriction requirement from 30 to 10 years at the request of the court master. It also includes a change to allow the apartment in primary structures not just accessory buildings. Another item on the agenda is a resolution authorizing the affirmative marketing plan. The court master has indicated he will recommend the judge find the Township compliant at the Feb. 22 hearing contingent upon adoption of the plan and introduction of the ordinance.
Tonight, we will be discussing options for the Flocktown Road and Schooley’s Mountain Road intersection including replacing or repairing the statue, installing a new, smaller statue, a flagpole or planting a tree and any other options that the committee may want to consider after taking suggestions.
All community garden plots are free this year on a first-come, first-serve basis. As we had waived the fees for this year, anyone who has already rented a plot will receive a credit for their 2020 rental.
If you have not already, please sign up for RAVE, which has replaced the Township’s nixle alerts. There is a link on www.wtmorris.org
Mayor’s Update at January 21, 2019 Township Committee Regular Meeting
Mayor Murello: Good evening everyone. This past weekend we had what was forecast as a major winter event and I want to commend and thank all of the township employees and emergency services volunteers for their work to get the roads cleared and in keeping the residents warm and safe.
The first town hall meeting on the energy aggregation co-op program was held last Wednesday night. 25-30 people attended and some of the questions included;
- Is there a deadline to opt-out? No, you can optout at any time by mailing back the card you received by 2/28/19 or calling 877-292-3904.
- What happens if you already have a third-party provider? You are not automatically enrolled, but can do so by calling 855-200-2648, we recommend you make sure your contract is expired before doing so.
- Will JCP&L continue to provide service if I enter the Co-Op? And
- Why is the Township making residents opt-out instead of opt-in? The automatic enrollment for JCP&L customers, but not for third party customers, is set by the state regulations establishing energy aggregation programs
There are two more town hall meetings on the topic. The first will be at the Washington Township Public Library on January 22, 2019 at 11:30 a.m. and the second at the Fairmount Firehouse, 12 Parker Road, on January 24, 2019 at 7:00 p.m. Representatives from the co-op and the township will be able to answer any technical questions during the meetings and the January 22st meeting will be live streamed on Facebook.
Our affordable housing final compliance hearing is set for February 22nd in Superior Court, at 10 a.m. in Morristown. The Township is seeking a judgement of compliance to cover the time period of 2015 to 2025. The annual dog and cat licensing can be done through January 31 without late penalty. The licenses are $10 per dog and $8.50 per cat, plus an additional $3 if the pet is not spayed or neutered. These fees go into a trust for animal control expenses. Besides the animal control officer, who most often catches loose pets and returns them to their owner or impounds them at a vet and who also responds to animal bites, the animal license trust also funds costs associated with animal welfare cases.
Last week, a complaint about loose pigs developed into an animal welfare investigation involving our animal control officer and police department. The issue is an ongoing investigation and the animals are being evaluated. I want to thank the many emergency services volunteers, WT police, DPW workers and members of the community that assisted with the animals and in the construction of temporary shelters before the weekend storm.
Two final reminders; please remember to sign up for RAVE/Smart 911 system and verify that you are subscribed to the Washington Township emergency notifications. There is a link and instructions to sign up on the homepage of the Township’s website, www.wtmorris.org and from November 1 through April 15, there is no parking on any road in Washington Township between the hours of 12:00 midnight and 6:00 a.m.
Mayor's Report Jan. 5, 2019 Reorganization Meeting of the Township Committee
Mayor Matthew Murello: Good morning everyone and happy 2019. I'd like to begin by thanking my fellow Committeemen for putting their faith in me to serve our community as Mayor this year. I’d like to congratulate Committeemen Roehrich and Short on their re-election and thank Bill Roehrich for his four years of service as Mayor, as well as the rest of the committee for their service. I’d also like to also thank our township volunteers and township employees as well as the families of the volunteers and those of us on the Township Committee, especially my wife Kristine and my children Nick and Olivia. None of us could serve our community without your support and understanding.
In 2018, the township completed several projects benefiting the community including; acquiring 12 additional acres of parkland at Cataract park, a half mile trail between the Ogden Preserve and the South Branch Preserve, a nearly half a mile of paved trail of in Rock Spring Park, with phase two this year that will add another 900 feet and using another trail grant, we will add additional walking trails at Harrington Park. We were awarded over $200,000 from the state to pave another section of Naughright Road, between Bartley and Fairview, and worked with the Board of Education to put two new full time WTPD School Resource Officers into the Middle and Elementary Schools. Lastly, with the award of a federal grant of $475,000, we acquired 120 sets of Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus for all of our volunteer firefighters.
The reason I mention these accomplishments first is not just that they are important to the residents of the Township, but they were all also accomplished with grants funding the majority of the cost or through a shared service agreement. It is by working with our Administration, Police, First Responders, Boards of Education and other volunteers that we are able to identify these types of opportunities, obtain funding and implement solutions while not putting the full burden on the taxpayers. I look forward to continuing the strong relationships that Township Committee have established with you all and work to forge new ones with our neighboring municipalities and agencies.
Other items of note that the Committee was able to complete in 2018 included; the purchase of a new fire truck for our volunteer firefighters, the purchase of a new ambulance for our volunteer first aid squad, and approval by the Superior Court of our affordable housing plan. We were able to obtain a more favorable ruling because we added 13 units while the affordable housing rules were still in litigation and we were one of the first municipalities to negotiate a settlement agreement with the Fair Share Housing Center. After many years, the Township also completed the installation of the bathroom and snack bar facilities in Palmer Park.
In 2018 the Committee continued their commitment to restoring our roadways by approving the paving of 2.3 miles of road and the resurfacing 6.3 miles of road with oil and stone. I remain committed, as does the Township Committee, to continue making progress on restoring our roadways, a commitment that resulted in increasing the capital funds for such projects from a total of $800,000 in the 2012 and 2013 budgets to over $1.6 million in our last two budgets.
We are able to improve our infrastructure and ensure our first responders have the equipment they need while maintaining the third lowest municipal taxes per person in Morris County. In 2018, the Committee approved a budget that resulted in average taxpayers’ municipal taxes increasing less than $30 per home, which is about 1.55%. As we start our budget process for 2019, I encourage everyone to take part in the open meetings starting on January 16th at 7:00 PM at Town Hall where we will present every department’s budget prior to approval and the publics input is welcome.
One of the ways we are able to increase the services to the Township and keep our tax increases to a minimum is by shared services. The Township now has 24 shared service agreements with other municipalities. Just last month we approved shared service agreements for; electrical Sub code inspections, Chief Financial Officer, Tax Collector, mowing and landscaping, baseball field grooming for both the local school district and for Califon Borough, fire prevention, building maintenance and Sharing DPW equipment and personnel with the Chesters and Mendhams. Though in some cases we receive services from another municipality that gives us the ability to maintain a full-time staff, such as Animal Control from Mount Olive, in most cases Washington Township provides the services to another municipality. In 2018, we received approximately $700,000 in shared service revenue.
While we’ve had many accomplishments, we also have challenges facing us. As Vice-Mayor Roehrich said in our local paper last month, as the economy improves it becomes more difficult to provide adequate staffing with part-time positions. We will need to look at all our options, including additional shared services - whether we provide the service or outsource to another municipality - as well as training staff and combining positions so we can both retain and attract talented employees. Far too often in municipal government, things continue just as they are and personnel costs rise just with length of employment without any real plan to do more with what you have. Though Washington Township is more fortunate in this regard than some other municipalities, we still need to be open to new opportunities and ways to improve the quality of services to the public while keeping cost increases to a minimum.
Another challenge, one that will be a personal priority of mine, is to increase engagement with the public. We live in a time where most families need to have two income earners, lengthy commutes to and from our town are normal and our local print news is behind a paywall. The Township has continuously and consistently made information available on its website, providing resolutions, ordinances, reports and backup information on discussion items ahead of meetings - something that has worked well and been modelled by neighboring municipalities. However, in the current environment where citizens may not have as much time to seek out such information, I believe that we need to be more proactive.
While we will continue to share such general items of information, we will be emphasizing items we believe will be of particular interest on both our website www.wtmorris.org and via social media. Though this presents challenges of its own, as there will undoubtedly be differences of opinion on what topics are of most interest, I believe doing so will provide an added value to the public. I also intend to use these tools to help promote the Township as both a great place to live and to do business. To coincide with the roll-out of our new website early this year, we will be looking to provide the ability across our social media, website news feed and email lists for information to be viewed based on topics of interest.
The first item of interest in 2019 will be the energy aggregation co-op the Township has joined. By joining a co-op with other municipalities, residents will have an option to receive a savings on the generation portion of their electric bill. The rate through the co-op is $0.0863/kWh, which is approximately 9% less than the generation portion of your electric utility costs, listed as “price to compare” on your JCP&L bill. The delivery of electricity will still be provided by JCP&L. Residents who wish to have their generation billing remain with JCP&L or another provider, will be able to opt out by using a postcard available on our website, which will also be mailed. The public has the ability to leave the program at any time and there are NO penalties or fees to leave the program. In addition to providing information about this program through the website and social media, we will also hold three town hall meetings and different locations, days and times around the Township. A representative from the co-op and the township will be able to answer any technical questions during the meetings.
While on the topic of communications, I also want to urge everyone who has not done so to sign up for RAVE/Smart 911 which has replaced nixle. There is a link and instructions to sign up on the homepage of the Township’s website. Thank you very much and I look forward to serving the community as Mayor in 2019.
November 19, 2018 Township Committee Regular Meeting
The Washington Township Recreation Department has made arrangements with Santa to accept mail for delivery to the North Pole beginning November 12, 2018. The address to send letters is available on wtmorris.org and hand-written replies will be returned by Christmas. Township youngsters are encouraged to write a letter to Santa not with just a Christmas list but with any achievements they may have accomplished.
Join Washington Township Recreation for a fun filled afternoon with Santa & Mrs. Claus.This fun filled afternoon will take place on Saturday December 1, 2018 at Benedict A. Cucinella School, 470 Naughright Road, Long Valley, NJ from 11:00am-3:00pm. Lunch will be served between the hours of 11:30am-2:00pm. The cost for this event is $9.50 per person and children under 3 are free. You must pre-register before November 29, 2018 and walk-ins will not be accepted due to high turnout. More info can be found and registration completed on www.wtmorris.org.
The 12th Annual WMC Memorial 5K Run/Walk now more popularly known as the TURKEY TROT will be held Thanksgiving Day, November 22, 2018 at the WMC high school athletic field and campus. The race and walk begin at 9AM, rain or shine. Participants should register prior to the race at: www.wmcturkeytrot.com The event is sponsored by the Recreation Committee and benefits scholarships in memory of former students.
Proposals were received and Interviews have been completed today for Traffic Engineer, Bond Counsel, and Township and Planning Board Engineer. Recommendations will be provided for discussion at the December Work Session. The Planning Board has also interviewed for Planner and Attorney and the Zoning Board for Attorney.
Residents have a long history of volunteering for our community. Volunteers perform many functions that are vital to our community. Each year, many of our residents offer their time, energy, knowledge and talent to our municipality by serving on one of the Fire Companies, the First Aid Squad, or on one or more of our boards, commissions, or committees. More info and the application form is available on the Township website.
If you have interest or expertise in a particular area and a desire to volunteer, Washington Township needs you! Please consider volunteering and supporting your community. Many opportunities exist for both volunteer fire and first aid as well as the Township’s appointed committees and boards. We encourage interested applicants to submit by Nov. 30.
The Washington Township Historical Society will be holding its 34th Annual Historic House Tour on Dec. 8 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Info on tickets is available on wthsnj.org and there is also a link on the Township website.
I’d also like to mention a reminder: there is no parking on any road in Washington Township between the hours of 12:00 midnight and 6:00 a.m., from November 1 through April 15.
Lastly, Bert the Eagle will likely be taken down and put into storage by the Department of Public Works this week or next.
Mayor's Update, Dec. 17, 2018 Regular Meeting
Mayor Roehrich:The NIXLE system is being phased out and the new RAVE/SMART911 service will be used by Morris County and Washington Township. Residents are encouraged to enroll in the service by entering their contact information at the www.smart911.com website by January 1, 2018. The Township Committee’s Reorganization Meeting will be held on January 5, 2019 at 10:00 AM. The Senior Holiday Luncheon was held at Black Oak Golf Club last week and was very well attended. Lastly, I want to thank the Committee and the Township employees for their hard work and service this year.
October 18, 2018 Township Committee Regular Meeting
There were several events held in the Township recently and several more ongoing or upcoming: on the 13th the Long Valley First Aid Squad held a successful Zombie 5k fundraiser and the Township had over 249 boxes dropping off paper at its shredding event that morning. Clean Communities Week will continue until the 20th with roadside cleanup being done by volunteers including Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Garden Club, Green Team and Kids for Kindness.
The Long Valley Junior Women's Club is sponsoring a mental health presentation on October 18 at 7 pm at the Zion Lutheran Church. The event is free but they request RSVP's for planning purposes. Links to more information and to RSVP are available on wtmorris.net
You can also get information about and volunteer to help our Meals on Wheels Program on the township website. The Morris County Nutrition Program and Washington Township Meals on Wheels Program are currently in need of additional volunteers to help deliver meals to our homebound senior citizens in Washington Township.
On tonight’s agenda is the continuation of the public hearing on the Ordinance to create an overlay zone at the former Ballantine Lumber property. Some questions and comments have been raised which I’d like to address before we get to the portion of the meeting when we take public comment on the ordinance.
- The Township does not own the site, maintain the site, control who occupies it or decide who it is or is not rented to.
- The Township is not condemning the property nor evicting anyone. This is private property and the use and development of it remains in private hands.
- The ordinance before us does not eliminate the need for a traffic or environmental study or any other study the planning board may require if the property is redeveloped.
- The overlay would only allow for a different use under certain conditions, mixed use commercial and residential including affordable housing, it does not require it nor repeal the underlying commercial zoning.
- An application to the Planning Board would still be required.
- The specifics of the development, including a site plan and any studies, would still have to be presented to the planning board for approval.
- This is the same process as unfolded with the Heath Village expansion, an overlay zone was adopted then an application was submitted to the Planning Board which had several months of public hearings before it was approved.
- The overlay doesn’t allow non-conforming development but creates general requirements for the overlay zone just as there are in other zones. These requirements would apply should the property be developed in accordance with the overlay zone - which includes affordable housing.
- The overlay does require 25% affordable housing which is more than the 20% of typical inclusionary zoning. The ordinance does allow for 90% coverage of the property which already has slightly more than 90% coverage.
- Creating the overlay and addressing a portion of our affordable housing requirement in a developer funded project would also prevent the Township from having to spend any more than the anticipated $500,000 for the Township sponsored project which will be funded out of an affordable housing trust funding by development fees.
The Township’s affordable housing plan has been approved by the court, though we must still meet periodic compliance requirements. Aside from already planned units, such as those at Heath Village, the Township will need to provide 29 additional family rental units as well as continue its accessory apartment program. By comparison, Chester Borough’s proposed affordable housing settlement requires 37 units at the Larrison Turkey Farm site though its population is less than a tenth of Washington Township’s. Developers are seeking to build over a thousand units in Montvale which is half the population of Washington Township. These are the kind of things – if we don’t move forward with the terms of the settlement – we may be looking at in a builder’s remedy lawsuit.
I look forward to hearing both comments from the public and from the Township Committee on the proposed ordinance. Revision to the ordinance have previously been made based on Historic Preservation Commission feedback. As I said earlier - reasonable people can disagree about the best way to address affordable housing requirements and I for one believe it is better to integrate affordable housing into the community as much as possible. Addressing a portion of our affordable housing requirement in a developer funded project would also prevent the Township from having to spend any more than the anticipated $500,000 for the Township sponsored project will be funded out of an affordable housing trust funded by development fees. What I believe is unreasonable is to disregard our affordable housing requirement and leave the Township open to a builder’s remedy lawsuit under which a development with as little as 15 percent of the units to be built being affordable. That could result in over 190 apartment units at a very high density.
September 17, 2018 Township Committee Regular Meeting
Washington Township Recreation Dept., is having an educational Seminar on “Breast & Prostate Cancer,” followed by one on hearing loss at the Washington Twp. Senior Center, 35 East Springtown Road, Long Valley, on Monday, October 15, 2018 at 1:00 pm.
There will be a paper shredding event Saturday, Oct. 13 at DPW from 9 a.m. to noon. Stickers will be available at DPW the week preceding the event.
The Washington Township Health Department will hold its Flu Clinic offering flu vaccine shots for adult residents of Washington Township on Oct. 10 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the court room. The vaccinations will be offered to any resident over the age of 18 for $20.00. Any resident covered by Medicare Part "B" can receive the vaccine free of charge provided that they pre-register with the Health Department. Medicare residents must pre-register at the Health Department.
The Township of Washington was awarded an Assistance to Firefighter’s Grant from FEMA for $457,000 which will be used to purchase packs, bottles and masks, otherwise known as self-contained breathing apparatus for its firefighters. The Township match is 5% of the grant amount.
The Township recently closed on a property bordering Cataract Park. The parcel of approximately 12 acres has been identified by the Trails committee as a potential site for a future trail making the approach to the falls in Cataract Park more accessible and manageable for those of us who aren’t expert hikers. 80% of the purchase was made with a county grant and 20% matched by Township open space funds.
The Township Committee will continue its discussion on potential 2019 road reconstruction projects at its October Work Session.
August 20, 2018 Township Committee Regular Meeting
The Fireworks, Food Trucks and Green Festival will be held Saturday, September 8 behind the Long Valley Middle School. The event will start at 4 p.m. with a historic baseball game, and there will be shows by Rizzo’s Reptiles at 6 and 7 p.m. The food trucks, Green Festival and band will be there until dark with fireworks commencing about half an hour later. Registration for the Green festival is open until August 31 and can be done on wtmorris.org.
The Rock Spring Park walking trail is almost complete. The paving was finished today, topsoil and seeding will likely be finished tomorrow and punch-list items should be completed over the next week, weather permitting.
On tonight’s agenda we will be renewing a shared service agreement with the West Morris Regional School District to provide a School Resource Officer. This arrangement began in 2016. We also have on the agenda a separate agreement which will be provide for a Special Class III part-time officer in addition to the regular officer at West Morris Central High School. Earlier this summer, the Township Committee entered into an agreement with the Washington Township School District to provide two School Resource Officers to the local K-8 school district.
At last week’s Work Session the Township Committee began its consideration of potential road projects for 2019. This conversation will continue at our September 10 Work Session. Though the conversation, by necessity, involves different types of roadwork the purpose of the discussions are to determine which roads we will put out to bid for complete reconstruction in early 2019. Other potential roadwork will also be discussed and will continue to be discussed through the 2019 budget process.
July 16, 2018 Township Committee Regular Meeting
The Market at Long Valley opened last Thursday with about a half dozen vendors. The market will be every Thursday from 3 to 7 p.m. and registration can be done on wtmorris.org
The WTMUA is experiencing excessive water usage. To maintain viability of the water system, they are asking customers minimize their water usage. Schooley’s Mountain area water restrictions are available from a link on the township website or on wtmua.org
Community Night has been rescheduled from tomorrow until Wednesday due to expected thunderstorms. The event will start at 6 p.m. in Rock Spring Park. Come enjoy some free food and kids activities while meeting our first responders.
The first Movie in the Park this summer will be Trolls which will begin at dusk in Rock Spring Park on July 20. The movie is free and snacks will be available for purchase.
The following roads have already been paved this summer:
Cindy Lane, in its entirety, which is about one-third of a mile.
Easy Springtown Road from Camp Washington Road to Naughright Road, about three-quarters of a mile.
Old Farmers Road, from East Mill Road to near Overlook.
Portions of Reservoir, Frog Hollow and Tall Timber have been oil and chipped.
Oil and Chip is planned for West Valley Brook Road (about 1.59 Miles) which will begin in the next week or so. About one a half miles of West Springtown Road will also be oil and chipped.
The County plans to pave East Mill Road from Schooley's Mountain Road to East Valley Brook Road, a distance of 2.4 miles, in August or September.
At our August Work Session the Township Committee will have its annual discussion about potential road paving projects for the following year.
June 18, 2018 Township Committee Regular Meeting
Thank you to all the volunteers who may Washington Township a great place to live, the families who support them and everyone who is here to recognize them tonight. There are many volunteer groups in the Township and we are grateful for them all but want to especially recognize those that work with our municipal government to provide services, organize events and help people in need while helping keep our municipal taxes to the third lowest per person in the county. After my mayor’s report I will read a proclamation and then ask various groups to stand up so we can recognize each with a round of applause. We have many groups and if we’ve missed any please point them out, if there are more that aren’t hear tonight we can make sure to reach out to them afterwards. Most of the groups already have a framed proclamation and are listed on our volunteer plaque but for those who don’t I will hand them out tonight. After we conclude our business we will have food available and can take pictures with anyone who would like to.
Tonight the Township Committee has on its agenda endorsement of a Housing Element and Fair Share Plan amendment to the Master Plan. This is the end result of a process of seeking certification of affordable housing compliance that began in 2015. At one point the Fair Share Housing Center lobby submitted a report to the court that argued the Township needed to provide 319 additional units. By both pointing out errors in their calculation which didn’t take Highlands constraints and open space preservation into account, and having worked to increase affordable housing in small but regular increments since our last certification in 2007 we were able to reduce that number to 81. The net number of units that will need to be provided, taking away units already planned or addressed in existing programs is 29.
Also on the agenda tonight is an agreement with the Washington Township Board of Education to jointly fund two School Resource Officers for the elementary and middle schools. There has been a School resource Officer at the High School since the Township entered into a similar agreement with the Regional School District in 2016.
The PBA is once again sponsoring a Fishing Derby on Saturday, June 23 at Kohler Pond beginning at 9 AM.
Morris County has a new Reverse 911 vendor. Landlines should be automatically entered in but if you registered your cell phone number for reverse 911 calls, you will need to re-register. Links are on the Township website. This does not affect your registration for nixle alerts.
May 21, 2018 Township Committee Regular Meeting
The Palmer Park bathrooms are now operational and were officially opened May 10.
Washington Township’s Memorial Day Ceremony, put on in conjunction with the Washington Township veteran’s Association, will be held in Rock Spring Park on May 26 at noon. The keynote speaker will be Marine Colonel Matthew G. Kelly. Please join us in honoring our brave servicemen and women.
The Veterans Post 1776 of Washington Township will be hosting an information session on Tuesday, June 12th at 9 a.m. at the Washington Township Municipal Building, 43 Schooleys Mountain Road, Long Valley, NJ. A representative from the Veterans Administration will give a presentation of benefits and programs that are available to all veterans. The presentation will last about two hours. Tax benefits, veteran discounts, and medical benefits are just some of the areas that will be discussed. All veterans are encouraged to attend. You are not required to be part of any veterans group to attend.
The Green Team and Economic Committee are working on bringing a market back to Long Valley. I have been in contact with the First Aid Squad about using the lot next to their building and Committeeman Short has contacted the mall managers about using that lot for parking. The goal will be for this market to be more of true farmer’s market with a focus on local produce and other farm products.
“Reach Washington Township,” the opioid addiction presentation, was held April 24 at 7 p.m. at Valley View Chapel with over 150 in attendance. Our Police and Heath departments and the Clerk’s Office put the event together with special guests from the Prosecutor’s Office, NJ CARES and the Sheriff.
The Historic Preservation Commission will present their annual awards at the Township Committee’s June 18 meeting. At that meeting I’d also like the Committee recognize the contributions of the Township’s many volunteers. As we’ve done in the past I’d like to authorize the Administrator to use the Committee Projects line item for certificates and refreshments.
April 16, 2018 Township Committee Regular Meeting
I usually give my Mayor’s report at the Township Committee’s monthly Regular Meeting but since we have a good turnout tonight there are a few items I want to share now.
“Reach Washington Township,” the opioid addiction presentation, will be held April 24 at 7 p.m. at Valley View Chapel. Presenters include representatives from the CARES program, the County Prosecutor’s Office and Sheriff Gannon. I’d like to acknowledge and thank the Police and Heath departments and the Clerk’s Office for putting this together.
The spring paper shredding event will be held April 21. We encourage participants who shred a tree to plant a tree. One free sapling will be given out to the first two hundred participants. The saplings are being provided by the township’s shade tree commission and the environmental commission will have volunteers helping at the event. You can also drop off plastic bags for recycling at the event, or at the municipal building during business hours as part of a special program the township’s Green Team is participating in. They have collected 200 pounds so far and with three hundred more the Township will receive a new park bench made of recycled plastic bags.
The Green Team has opened online registration for green vendors for the Fireworks, Food Trucks and Green Festival event on September 8. The Township contributes $5,000 towards the cost of fireworks but the event is run entirely by volunteers – many from our fire companies – and funded largely through donations and parking.
The BPU will be holding a public meeting on electric company responsiveness during the storms at Parsippany’s town hall tomorrow between 4 and 7 p.m. Public comments will be taken. We will be having a brief storm assessment review followed by a discussion with JCP&L representatives this evening. They have agreed to take question from the public so I am going to open the meeting to the public before our discussion items and will again immediately after the JCP&L representatives speak. I ask that you hold questions for JCP&L until then . I will take this opportunity to thank our Police, DPW, Fire, First Aid and OEM for the work they did during the storms and all year-round.
Lastly, I’d like to let everyone know the budget presentation and public hearing will be held April 16 at 7:30 p.m. and encourage all interested to attend.
Information on all these topics, as well as the green vendor registration, can be found on the Township website at wtmorris.org.
March 19, 2018 Township Committee Regular Meeting
The opioid addiction presentation has been rescheduled for the evening of April 21 at Valley View Chapel. Please reserve a seat online at wtmorris.org.
The spring paper shredding event will be held April 21.
The Environmental Commission will be handing out kits to take samples for discounted well-water testing on Saturday, March 24 from 9 a.m. to noon at the municipal building. The kits can be dropped off at the municipal building between Marchy26 between 7 and 9 a.m.
The Local Emergency Planning Committee met before the Township Committee meeting to discuss the storm, what we did well and where we can improve.
The budget presentation and public hearing will be held April 16 at 7:30 p.m.
February 14, 2018 Township Committee Regular Meeting
Parents and teenagers are invited to join us on March 6, 2018 at the Valley View Chapel to learn about Opioids and Addiction. Guest speakers include, Chief Almer, Sherriff Gannon and County Prosecutor Knapp. We request people RSVP online at www.wtmorris.org.
The next budget meeting will be held February 20 at 6:30 p.m. in the senior center. Budget meetings are open to the public and info can be found on the calendar on wtmorris.org. Also on the website is information about JCP&L’s affordability assistance.
Radon kits are available in the Health Department for $6. Winter is a great time for testing as homes are not often as much.
January 15, 2018 Township Committee Regular Meeting
The annual rabies clinic was held last Saturday. Turnout was somewhat less than in past years due to the extreme cold but our staff was there licensing pets. About 150 were vaccinated and licensed that day. Licensing can still be done by the end of the month to avoid a late fee.
The first budget meeting will be held Jan 30 at 6:30 p.m. in the senior center. Budget meetings are open to the public and info can be found on the calendar on wtmorris.org. Also on the website is information about JCP&L’s affordability assistance.
As you may have heard, the Township has reached a settlement agreement with the Fair Share Housing Center regarding its affordable housing obligation. The next step is a fairness hearing before a Superior Court judge which will be held Feb 23 at 11 a.m. at the Morris County Courthouse.
Mayor's Annual Message on January 6, 2018 Reorganization Meeting
First I'd like to thank my fellow Committeemen, our township volunteers, and township employees. As a committee, we try to recognize these people at various times throughout the year but with all their hard work, including that of my four colleagues who are both volunteers and employees of the public, it bears mentioning again. I want to also thank the families of the volunteers and Township Committee, without whose support none of us could do this.
If you were here last year, you may recall me promising bathrooms at Palmer Park at our 2017 reorganization meeting. As you may have noticed, bathrooms were recently installed in the park. It’s been a long haul but finally they are. The structure is also capable of hosting a concession stand in the future. Though the most visible park improvement, it is not the only one. In 2017, the Township was awarded a $52,000 county grant to acquire land to expand Cataract Park. This award would not have been possible without the hard work put in by our volunteer Open Space Committee over the years. In 2015 the Township purchased the Coleman Road Park, with a $168,000 county contribution towards the acquisition. After some improvements by the Township DPW, a grand opening was held this past September. In 2012, the township purchased land on N Four Bridges Road with a $79,000 county grant.
That’s important to note because when the county created it's trail construction grant program, the Township Committee created a new volunteer Trails Committee. After thorough research, the Trails Committee recommended a trail on the North Four Bridges property be prioritized. Work on that trail began in 2017 by the Township DPW and will finish this spring and is funded in part by a $25,000 trails grant. The Trails Committee recommended the Township pursue a grant for a walking path in Rock Springs Park this year which was awarded in the amount of $88,000 from the county last month. Yes, the Trails Committee has been busy. They have also worked with our police department to identify needed uniform crosswalk and trail crossing improvements which are being undertaken by both our DPW and the County Parks Department.
In 2017, the Township did over seven miles of road improvement. Over $900,000 was appropriated for road work which is more than three times the amount spent on roads in 2013. With a new oil and chip program using finer stone which we will be utilizing more extensively, the Township will be looking to cover even more miles going forward. We will still be paving, including a large portion of East Springtown, which after Naughright (where paving has been done several recent summers) and East Avenue, is actually the heaviest traveled township road when school is not in session.
In 2017, the average taxpayers’ municipal taxes went up about $28 which is about 1.5%. Since the 2 percent tax cap was implemented, the Township Committee has kept it's increases below 2 percent without ever taking an allowable exception to the cap. It is largely through pursuing grants and shared services that we have been able to consistently increase capital spending, particularly for roads, while keeping the municipal taxes per person the third lowest in Morris County.
The Township entered into a new shared service recently one of 23 active shared service agreements. Shared services allow us to provide services as efficiently as possible by cooperating with other municipalities, the county and both of our local school districts. We also renewed 10 of those agreements this last month, and an eight year extension with neighboring Tewksbury Township for fire protection the month before. The work put in by Fairmount Fire company on the agreement is much appreciated as is all the work put in by our fire and first aid volunteers. I want to make special note that many of our firefighters are not here because they are helping at a fire in Mount Olive.
On that note, it is a good time to move onto our appointments, after which we will swear in our appointees and take a brief recess to enjoy tea and crumpets before returning to normal business. But first there are a few special recognitions I'm honored to make after recognizing special guests in attendance: Sen Bucco, Assemblyman Bucco, Freeholders Cabana and Smith, Sheriff Gannon - I also want to thank you for your work on opioid addiction, and former Mayor Krickus.
December 18, 2017
Mayor Roehrich: A free rabies vaccine clinic for domestic cats and dogs will be held at the DPW Building on Saturday, January 13, 2018 from 9:00am to 11:00am. The Clinic is open to any resident of the state of New Jersey. Please note that all dogs must be on a leash, all cats must be contained in a carrier. Any dog which tends to be aggressive toward people or other animals MUST be muzzled and separated from others. It is suggested that these animals be taken to their veterinarian's office for vaccination. Washington Township residents can also license their cats and dogs at that time.
The Recreation Department held some events recently and have several programs open now for registration. The Senior luncheon last week was very well attended with nearly 100 hundred people in attendance, the afternoon with Santa the weekend before had 175 participants. Registration is now open for Circuit Craze Fitness Class, Let’s Move w/Cardio Dance, Low Impact Strength & Cardio Interval Training, Focus Fitness and in conjunction with the Police Department a pair of Self Defense classes. Registration and payment for all of these can be done at www.wtmorris.net.
The Township recently adopted an ordinance amending its soil disturbance application process. Ordinances like this one can be read before public hearings on the township website, social media and mobile app. Residents can also use those resources to access the municipal service request system where they can report potholes and other issues as well as check the status of their requests.
October 16, 2017
Mayor Roehrich: The grand opening of the new Coleman Road Park and Hemmings Trail was held Sept. 30. The weather held out very nicely and we had a great turnout of about 30-35 people. It’s a great addition to the Township and we look forward to greater public use.
Halloween 2017 Trick or Treating in Washington Township will be between the hours of 2:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. on October 31, 2017.
It shall be unlawful for juveniles to be in any public place between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. of each and every day during the period from October 28 until November 1, inclusive, of the year, unless accompanied by a parent or guardian. There are exemptions in the local ordinance for certain emergency situations
Proposals for Animal Control & Cleaning/Janitorial are being accepted until Wednesday, Nov. 15 at 10 a.m.
The Township is also accepted proposals for Public Defender and Prosecutor which are due by Nov. 7 at 10 a.m.
The Requests for Proposals are available on wtmorris.org
There are also opening for DPW Laborer, Junior Mechanic and Assistant in the Construction Office available on the website.
September 18, 2017
Mayor Roehrich: The 2017 “Fireworks, Food Trucks and Green Festival” was held Saturday, Sept. 9. Despite the weather there was still a good turnout with over 1,000 vehicles parked by our volunteer CERT Team. Special thanks goes out to Josh Drake, his family and other members of the fire companies who put a lot of time and effort into organizing, setting up and cleaning up after the event. Thanks also to the Green Team which helped with the vendors and exhibitors.
Now that hurricane season has gotten off to a fast start, I’d like to take this opportunity to remind everyone here, and hopefully the press will share this also, of our various means of emergency communications and urge everyone to sign up for at least two of them. These methods range from traditional media, the Township’s social media and Nixle to digital signboards and physical information sheets available on signboards to be posted at designated locations around the Township. The brochure is available in the front office, Township website and on the back table for those here tonight. A brochure was also sent out with the tax bills after Sandy. This info and more emergency preparedness tips are available now on the front page of the website and are always available on the OEM pages.
The Township has received $42,000 in funding through the Office of Clean Energy’s Direct Install program which will be used for energy conservation improvements. The grant is a 70/30 share. This is not a pass-through grant, so it does not require the township to front the 70% funded through the program, which is in addition to the $100,000 in grants already in this year’s budget.
For those who are unaware, several years’ worth of municipal budgets and audits are available on the township website. Links are currently available from the front page and always available on the budget history page where you can also find updates posted during the budget development process in the early part of each year.
August 21, 2017
Mayor Roehrich: Last month, the Recreation Department held a new “Past in the Park” which was successful but did not have the turnout we hoped for probably because rain was expected. There were Civil War reenactors, a historic baseball game and some antique cars and tractors. The Rec Department last week showed it’s last Movie Under the Stars for the summer, its grown every time they held it.
The Fireworks, Food Trucks and Green Festival will be held Sept 9 behind the Middle School starting at 4 p.m.
On or about August 28, 2017, a county road construction project will begin on Fairmount Road (County Route 517). The construction is scheduled to start at 8:30 AM and end at 5:30 PM Monday through Friday. During the hours of construction Fairmount Road will be reduced to one lane of travel (Southbound) from the intersection of East Mill Road and East and West Valley Brook Roads. A Detour will be established for all northbound traffic during this time.
Bids on a retail consumption liquor license will be opened on September 18, 2017, at 7:00 p.m. at the Washington Township Municipal Building. The minimum bid is $190,000 and the Township Committee intends to use revenue if awarded for capital projects.
Last Wednesday, the Committee discussed potential road reconstruction projects that will go out to bid in early 2018. That conversation will continue after public comments.
Next week is the last week of summer hours. After Labor Day, regular hours of 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday will resume.
July 17, 2017
Mayor Roehrich: The first movie of Movies Under the Stars was shown last weekend, and movies will be shown on July 28 and August 18 at dusk at Rock Spring Park. On July 29, the Recreation Committee will be sponsoring a Past in the Park event which will include a Civil War reenactment, an old time baseball game, antique cars and other events. Tomorrow evening, July 18, the Washington Township Emergency Services will hold the Community Night Out event for residents.
June 19, 2017
Mayor Roehrich: First, I’d like to personally thank everyone for coming out on a night with weather that could be ominious to thank our volunteers for all their hard work which we will get to in a little bit.
I also want to let everyone know the following road reconstruction projects are scheduled for the summer of 2017:
- North Bridge Drive. Paving to begin approximately June 15 and last for approximately 2 weeks.
- West Springtown Road, from Schooley's Mtn Rd to Wehrli Dr. Paving to begin early July, specific date has not been determined.
- Spruce Lane & Naughright Road. Paving date to be determined.
The Township DPW will be paving portions of East Fox Hill, Black River and Hacklebarney roads this summer. Within the next two weeks they will be applying oil and chip to portions of upper and lower Fairview Avenue, portions of Wehrli and Califon roads and all of Laketown Road.
The County will be paving a portion of Fairmount Road (from West Mill to Highland) in the late summer or early fall.
The Township Committee has worked very hard to increase by 200% our commitment to road improvements from about $300,000 in 2013 to $900,000 this year while controlling municipal taxes.
The Recreation Department has organized a new event called “The Past in the Park.” You can visit Rock Spring Park on July 29 for a Historic Baseball Game, which was very popular when held here in the past, a camp of Civil War reenactors and some antique cars beginning at 11 a.m.
Administrator Coppola and I presented our application for funding for a Historic Preservation Plan for this building, which was built as a schoolhouse in 1886, to the Morris County Historic Preservation Committee on election night. We hope to hear back soon.
Currently on the website, vendors and exhibitors can register for the green part of the “Fireworks, Food Trucks and Green Festival.” Voting on “Movies in the Park” for this summer was done online and the winners were The Force Awakens, Alvin & the Chipmunks and Moana. The Force Awakens will be the first of the season on July 14 in Rock Spring Park at dusk.
I also want to remind everyone that meeting agendas are typically available the Friday before a meeting on our website with links to the resolutions and ordinances the Township Committee is considering. Besides the website, when ordinances are first introduced we also provide links to them via social media and the Township’s app. We know everyone is busy; people may have a long commute, to take their kids to and from different sports events in the evening or - like those here tonight - volunteer their free time to their community. So we just want to bring the info to you to make sure the public knows what’s being considered and when the public hearing will be held before adoption.
May 15, 2017
Mayor Roehrich: The Annual Memorial Day ceremony will be held in Rock Spring Park starting at noon on Saturday, May 27. The keynote speaker will be Washington Township veterans Association Post Commander Marty Fleischer who flew dozens of flights during WWII. You may remember the Township Committee recognizing Marty as Washington Township’s Senior of the Year at our reorganization meeting.
The Committee will recognize our many citizen volunteers at its Regular Meeting of June 19.
A stigma-free resolution is on the Committee’s agenda tonight. You may be aware that Morris County recently started promoting this initiative which our Township fully supports. The Health and Police departments are already working on a Knock Out Opiate Day on the dangers of prescription drug abuse to be held sometime in October.
JCP&L aerial inspections are scheduled to begin May 15th and typically require approximately 2 weeks to complete depending on weather conditions. The helicopters will be flying slowly (20-30 mph) along the lines, and may hover at any time for a closer inspection
The Morris County Historic Preservation made a site visit to the municipal building this past Saturday. A tour was given by our current Administrator who told them about our application for funding for a historic preservation plan and our former Administrator Diane Galletts who spoke with the committee about the building’s history.
Currently on the website, vendors and exhibitors can register for the green part of the Fireworks, FoodTrucks and Green Festival. Voting on Movies in the Park for this summer is also underway online.
The Health Department held a hugely successful Wellness Day for seniors on March 29. Over 40 people attended and based on the positive feedback, the Department plans to hold the event again next year. Vision screening, blood pressure and balance testing, BMI calculations and glucose screening were some of the Medicare covered services that were offered at no out-of-pocket cost.
Now available on the Township website, wtmorris.org, is a new property information map. The interactive GIS map shows the land use zones, conservation easements and other property information. Open Space and farmland overlays will be added in the future.
The new map is part of the Township’s efforts to make as information as readily available as possible. To that end, the Township has developed a mobile app. Through the app, someone can access information like announcements, the events calendar, meeting information, online service requests and the Township codebook while away from their desktops and to easily contact the Township while on the go.
Next month we’ll discuss the organization of the Environmental Commission and Green Team that Committeeman Forsbrey brought up at the Work Session. The Township Administrator has invited the chairman to attend. I’d also like to discuss the Economic Sustainability Committee at that time. The original intent was to have a committee of diverse members interested in attracting and supporting those businesses compatible with the character of the Township and to build ratables into the industrial, commercial and office research zoned properties within the Township. Based on some recent comments about objectives that may be better addressed by the planning board, I would like to have a discussion about the mission of the economic committee before we interview and appoint volunteers. Come with some ideas and thoughts as to how we should proceed with that.
Mayor Roehrich: Last Friday we held the annual St. Patrick’s Day Senior Luncheon. Over 50 seniors were in attendance. The Junior Women’s Club helped at the event held at the Senior Center. We are probably going to have to look into larger venues and the luncheons are becoming so popular we had to turn away some people interested in registration because of capacity.
The introduction of the 2017 municipal budget is on tonight’s agenda. Though there will be opportunity for questions and comments at the public hearing scheduled for April 17, which we encourage people to attend, I would like to give a brief overview. The municipal tax for the average assessed home of $438,519 will increase $28.66 which equals 1.55%.
While continuing to limit annual tax increases to less than 2% for several years, without utilizing any allowable exemptions, the Township Committee has steadily increased capital spending on roads. This year that amount will be $905,000. In 2013, that amount was $298,000. Some of this year’s funding was a non-recurring increase offset by reductions in snow operations and utilities that may or may not be possible next year. The road work funding is split between the capital budget and a capital ordinance being introduced tonight. This ordinance, like all debt authorized by the Township Committee for the last decade or so, is offset by the debt service paid down during the same year.
There is one last topic I’d like to cover, that of being a welcoming municipality, which has not been discussed by the Township Committee. To some extent, the reason for this may be because of the fluidity of the term. There have been articles in the papers associating the term with immigration and sanctuary cities. Committee members have all also received correspondence form a resident that does not make the same connection. Recently the Mayor of a neighboring Township addressed what their police department’s practice is. As with Chester Township, Washington Township police have not been trained and deputized to enforce immigration laws. Their focus is on community policing. Also, like Chester Township, if an alleged offender has a detainer request, our police contact federal officials. If there were not a timely response, they would transport them to the county jail.
Regardless of the sanctuary city debate, being welcoming does not depend on passing a resolution but rather on actions taken by a community. As a local government we try to welcome new residents by sending them information about the Township, the services we provide, ways to contact us and volunteer committees they can join when we learn of home purchases and at Township events. Through those volunteer committees we try to engage residents, both old and new, in the government of our community. However, what truly makes us a welcoming community is the work of our civic organizations, some of which are here this evening.
These organizations are comprised of diverse groups united by a common experience, such as the Veterans Association or open to all people with a common goal, such as public service in the case of fire companies or the many scout troops in Washington Township. In fact, we probably have the most Eagle Scouts of any community in the state. The Township Committee supports these groups when they hold events that bring the community together like Memorial Day or the Fall Festival, which was run by the WTCO, and has now been succeeded by the Fireworks and Green Festival. It’s not only events but the civic organizations themselves that bring people together. When we held our volunteer appreciation night, we had in attendance over a hundred representatives from these groups. I believe, if we could count all the members, we’d be talking about thousands not hundreds.
a longtime volunteer firefighter and former chief of the Schooley’s Mountain Fire Protection Association, as well as Township Chief passed Nov. 9. He served as Mayor of Washington Township and on the Township Committee.
The Township Committee will host a special meeting this Wednesday at 7 p.m., half an hour earlier than our regular meetings so everyone can get home for the debate, regarding the Regional Board of Education Funding question on the November ballot. School board members will be present but will not be making a presentation.
Information on the referendum is available on the school board’s website. This can also be found on the Township website along with the board’s presentation..
Trick or Treating in Washington Township will be between the hours of 2:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. on October 31, 2016.
No overnight parking will begin on Nov. 1. Per ordinance, n
The Green Festival & Fireworks will take place on September 10 beginning at 4 PM behind the Middle School.
A question will be on the November ballot about regional high school funding. The Township Committee will hold a meeting in September to provide information to the public about the question and its tax implications. The school board will have representatives attending the meeting and there will be opportunity for public comments and questions. A date will be announced shortly.
June 20th, 2016 Mayor's Update
Mayor Roehrich: This week, Washington Township will be resuming the Animal Census that began last summer. Census takers, who will be identifiable by Township IDs and shirts, will cover streets and neighborhoods that were not visited last summer. Please be aware all cats and dogs who reside in the Township must be licensed annually, by January 31, and have a rabies vaccine that is valid through November 1 of the year of licensing. For 2016, fees were reduced to $10 per dog and $9 per cat. License applications are available on the Township website and from the census takers.
Applications are being accepted for openings on volunteer committees including the Recreation Advisory Committee, Historic Preservation Commission, and the Economic Sustainability Committee. There are also openings for alternates on the Historic Preservation Commission, Recreation Advisory Committee and Municipal Utilities Authority. Application forms are available on the township website.
We have received a preliminary plan for a modified retaining wall for the East Mill sidewalk project. The plan itself does not meet the scope of the change order and the Engineer has been in contact with the contractor. The contractor has informed him the required geotechnical report will be provided by July 5th.
Washington Township joined Mt. Olive in an action to intervene in Morris County v. M&E railways. On Friday, June 10 Superior Court Judge Stephan Hansbury directed M&E Railway to work with Morris County to come up with viable safety and emergency response plans to deal with the rail cars filled with butane that are being stored on the tracks of the county owned High Bridge Rail Line.
I also have a railcar update. The court date set for today for extended to the 29th. While we won’t hear the emergency plan from M&E Railways until then, the number of butane-filled railcars at the site will remain the same until then. The motion to intervene filed by Washington Township and Mt. Olive was due the 24th. We do not now know if the extension granted for the plan will affect that.
May 16, 2016 Mayor's Update
Washington Township will host its annual Memorial Day Ceremony to salute our brave servicemen and servicewomen who have given so much for our country on Saturday, May 28th in Rock Spring Park at 12 PM (rain or shine) at the Veterans Memorial Site in Rock Spring Park.
The keynote speaker will be Lieutenant Colonel Edward C. Croot, Commander, Mid-Atlantic Recruiting Battalion and Class of 1989 West Morris Central Graduate.
Decoration and refreshments are provided by Girl Scouts and the Long Valley Women’s Club annual donation helps support the ceremony.
Tonight we will recognize many of the volunteers and businesses whose efforts have made Washington Township an even better place to live. There are many groups and many individual volunteers that contribute to our community. Tonight we will be thanking those that have helped improve public facilities, like our parks, and provide Township services that we could not without their help or raising your taxes. There are so many who have contributed their time or materials to further improve public parks or to help their neighbors, through programs like Meals on Wheels, that not missing anyone of these wonderful community members becomes a challenge.
We have members of three volunteer fire companies: Schooley’s Mountain, Fairmount and Long Valley, as well as the Long Valley First Aid here. Not only are these volunteers first responders at emergencies, their membership is vital for organizing the Community Night Out and many participated in the Washington Township CEO which put on the fall festival. The effort to bring back the fireworks to Washington Township is now spearheaded by Long Valley Fire and Auxiliary members. Many people do not realize that though the Township contributed to events past, the fireworks were entirely run by volunteers and largely funded by donations, vendors and parking fees.
I will take this opportunity to congratulate Long Valley Fire Company on their 95th Anniversary.
Boy and Girl Scouts are responsible for many improvements to parks and other facilities through Eagle and Gold Scout projects. There are too many Scouts to call out individually tonight but we thank all of them and I will mention a couple recent projects the public may have noticed: the new AEDs in the parks and the improvements to the Veterans Memorial which were both Eagle Scout projects.
Many of these projects are supported by local businesses. Two of which are Harrington Construction, who has donated material and construction assistance for many Scout projects and Ort Farms who have donated food to events like Community Night Out and the Green Festival & Family Fund Day and will be celebrating their 100th. The CERT time provides traffic control for parking at these events and manned the phones at the Emergency Operations Center at Sandy.
Some other things you may have noticed around are the flower planters and pots here in front of the municipal building and at the Senior Center. These are provided by the Long Valley Garden Club and Kids for Kindness.
There are numerous Township Boards, Commissions and Committees made entirely of volunteers including Health, Economic Sustainability, Environmental, Green Team, Historic Preservation, Library, Municipal Utilities, Open Space, Planning, Recreation, Shade Tree and Zoning. None of these volunteers receive compensation but many of the have to comply with onerous state-required financial disclosures. We thank you for what may often seem like thankless work. I also want to thank my fellow committee members who are also volunteers in that they donate their time and receive no compensation.
April 18, 2016
Thank you to the Shade Tree Committee, Boy Scouts and other volunteers that participated in the annual Shade Tree planting which was held on North Bridge Drive this Saturday.
Washington Township will host our Annual Memorial Day Ceremony to salute our brave servicemen and servicewomen who have given so much for our country on Saturday, May 28th in Rock Spring Park at 12 PM (rain or shine) at the War Memorial Site.
Come join us as we salute our brave veterans and our fallen heroes. Rock Spring Park is dedicated to this program and will be closed to all other activities on this day. Any questions regarding this event please contact the recreation office at (908) 876-5941
In May, the Police Department will be leading an emergency event table top exercise with other first responder organizations and the Office of Emergency Management as well as various municipal departments. I will also take this opportunity to remind everyone of the brochure outlining the various means of communications that the Township will use during such events which was sent out with the tax bills after Sandy. These methods range from traditional media, the Township’s social media and nixle to digital signboards and physical information sheets available on signboards to be posted at designated locations around the Township. The brochure is available in the front office, Township website and on the back table for those here tonight.
Effective June 1, 2016 the Recycling Center hours at the DPW facility on Rock Road will change. The new hours will be: Saturday's 8:00 AM - 12:00 PM and the 1st Wednesday of the month 8:00 AM - 12:00 PM
There will be a public hearing on the budget later his evening.
March 21, 2016 Regular Meeting
I attended the St. Patty’s Day Senior Luncheon last Thursday. There were more than 50 seniors in attendance, including several new faces which is always good to see. We have many great volunteer groups in the Township and two that help with every senior luncheon are the Long Valley Junior Women’s Club who volunteer as servers and the Girl Scouts who make the centerpieces. At a future meeting, we plan to recognize all the various groups that help make this a great community to live in.
On tonight’s agenda is the introduction of the 2016 Municipal Budget. A public hearing on the budget will be held on April 18 after which it can be adopted. The budget increase is 1.66% and the tax rate increase only 1.64% due to an increase in added assessments and decrease in tax appeal settlements. The 1.64% tax increase equates to about $30 per year on an average assessed home of $439,512. For several years running, Washington Township has had the third lowest municipal taxes per capita in Morris County.
I’ve also asked that creation of an Ad Hoc Police Range Committee be put on tonight’s agenda as a discussion item. The proposal to investigate the possibility of a police range on Township property has generated much interest and many concerns.
The process of considering the proposal is still in its infancy, which may be why there are so many misperceptions. To set the record straight: no vote has been taken on the proposal, no construction has begun on a range, no site plan or planning board application has been submitted and there have been no secret meetings. The presentation by the Police Department was on the agenda posted to the Township website and sent to the media five days before the meeting, though Patch did not run an article to the day of the media there was one in the Observer several weeks before. The presentation was also announced on the front page of the Township website and on social media, which is not typically done for individual agenda items.
When the police pitched the idea, the Township Committee decided only that they were open to considering it. Though not necessary, the Committee also decided an application, if the proposal were to get that far, would be submitted to the Planning Board which would review the plan at a public meeting and make a recommendation to the Township Committee. It was also stated, on the record, that the police would notify a wider area than the neighbors within 200 feet as required by law if an application was submitted to the Planning Board.
It was also decided that before even minimal tax dollars were spent on a site plan, Morris County would be contacted to confirm a police range on the site was even a possibility. At our last meeting, a member of the public suggested an F.A.Q. be put out. That is a great idea, but many of the questions that have been raised, simply cannot be answered yet. Perhaps preparing a full site plan immediately would have prevented misinformation about details not yet known from being spread. While hindsight does offer a better perspective; it is not, in fact, 20/20.
In discussing concerns raised by the public with the Chief of Police, one thing became apparent: while we cannot go back in time we are now presented with an opportunity to include the public in a process which has generated much interest. When the Chief interviewed for his current position, some of the goals he stressed were community policing and public engagement. Since the process of considering the possibility of a police range has not proceeded very far, it costs nothing but a little time to hit the reset button and restart the process with public participation via an ad hoc committee. Whether or not a range is ever approved, we now have the opportunity to create a forum for public engagement and increased interaction with their police department.
That is why I’m suggesting creation of an Ad Hoc Police Range Committee. The Committee could consist of five or seven voting members from both the area currently being looked at and other parts of the Township if they are to consider all options for a police range. It can include both those who are in favor of the concept but not sure of the location and those who have raised concerns but not jumped to any conclusion. I’d also suggest the Committee include a non-voting advisory member from the Police Department who can answer questions and provide insight into the concept, a non-voting member from the Planning Board who can share knowledge of land use process and a non-voting liaison from the Township Committee. One of the range masters for the Police Department can also attend a meeting to explain in detail safety measures that are currently in place and would continue to be in place at any range utilized by the Department.
If the Committee decides to move forward, volunteer applications can be solicited as is done with other boards and committees and interviews held before the next Work Session. The Committee can discuss candidates and charges to the Ad Hoc Committee at the Work Session and then create the Ad Hoc Committee and appoint members at the April Regular Meeting.
The Reservoir Road site was one preferred by the Police Department. If this is the only site the Committee wishes to consider we can wait for a response from the county’s Open Space Committee and Utility Authority before considering the creation of an Ad Hoc Committee.
[The Township Committee decided at the meeting to solicit applications for an Ad Hoc Police Range Advisory Committee with a deadline of April 20 and potentially appoint members at the May 16 meeting]
January 2, 2016 Reorganization Meeting
First, I would like to thank the Township Committee for re-electing me mayor for another year. It is with great pride that I serve the Township that I grew up in and have chosen to stay and raise my own family in. Next, I would like to thank the volunteers and employees in this Township. It is you that truly make it such a great place to live. Many of our volunteers from the Ort family are here and I congratulate you on celebrating your 100th year.
This was a busy year: retirements, negotiations, land purchases, promotions along with the everyday operations and the continued service we provide to our neighbors through shared service agreements.
Three grants totaling $115,000 were received for generators at the Municipal Building, Senior Center and the Recreation/Buildings & Grounds Buildings, and will be installed this coming year.
Recently, Morris County awarded $210,000 in grant funds for the preservation of two properties in Washington Township. These projects are a Cataract Park expansion and a new park off Coleman Road.
Throughout the yea,r the Recreation and Senior Department holds various classes, programs and luncheons. In December alone, the Department helped Santa with 182 letters, held a Holiday Luncheon attended by 64 seniors and - with help from Girl Scout Troop 81122 - held a fun filled afternoon with Santa, face painters, a balloonist, and a caricature artist with over 80 attendees. A new event this year was the “Taste of Spring” dinner for seniors held at the Washington Twp. Senior Center. We had 19 Kids for Kindness volunteer as personal servers for the 26 seniors that signed up for the event.
The Rock Spring Park basketball courts were removed by the DPW and new courts installed by a contractor this fall. In the spring, the courts will be painted West Morris Central colors by the basketball club. The club also replaced the rims and backboards.
This year we set aside $780,000 for roads as last winter was especially harsh. Over the summer, 1.97 miles of Naughright Road and East Valley Brook were repaved. An additional .75 miles of overlay and 3.4 miles of chip and oil were done bringing the total miles of work on Township roads to six. The work on East Valley Brook was partially funded with $250,000 in discretionary aid from the NJDOT.
A grant of $150,000 was also received for extending the East Mill Road sidewalks. This project will go out to bid in the Spring.
A new paver was acquired through one national purchasing cooperative, another was used to contract for a refurbishment of a fire truck in order to add years to its useful life.
Working with Morris County, we finally got approval from the DOT for a reduced weight limit on Schooley’s Mountain Road and signage posted by the State and County on their roads. It took many years, the compilation of extensive data and persistence by the Police Lieutenants to accomplish this.
Thanks to the outstanding work of our patrolmen, detectives, traffic and K-9 officers, supervisors, administrators and support staff, Washington Township was ranked the 15th safest city in America and the second safest in New Jersey by SafeWise. To compile this report, SafeWise used the most recent FBI crime data from 2013 to analyze and rank municipalities with a minimum population of 10,000 people.
There were several promotions in the Police Department this year. After the retirement of Chief Bailey, Lt. Almer was promoted to Chief. An additional Lieutenant and an additional Corporal position were created. This was done while keeping the total number of officers the same.
In her first year defending county tax appeals our new Tax Assessor, Donna Re, reduced the amount of ratables lost in half.
In 2014, dogs and cats licensed increased from 1,569 to 2,035; this resulted in the Township Committee reducing the per license cost from $15 to $13 per animal in 2015. With the census done over the summer there are now over 3,300 dogs and cats licensed and the Township Committee has adopted an Ordinance to further reducing the license fee to $10 per dog and $9 per cat for 2016.
For the first time, pet licensing was done at the free rabies clinic. Over 200 vaccinations were given last January; it was one of our largest turnouts for a clinic on one of the coldest days of the year. One hundred and three licenses were done. Licensing will be offered again on site during the Jan. 9 rabies clinic next Saturday.
All of the above was done with no increase in staffing and while keeping the total tax increase, using none of the exceptions allowed by the state, under 2%. The tax increase over 2014 was 1.84% which equaled $33 per year for the average homeowner. Washington Township again had the third lowest municipal property taxes per capita in Morris County for 2015.
Looking forward to 2016 we again will strive to maintain a fiscally responsible budget that provides for the health, safety and welfare of our citizens, to continue road infrastructure, maintenance and improvement and to build the bathrooms at Palmer Park. We will continue to work with our freeholders on improvements to Schooleys Mountain Road.
In conclusion, I want to again thank the hundreds of volunteers and their families for all that they do and sacrifice to make this a great place to live, and a special thanks to my wife and family for their support and understanding. On behalf of the Township Committee I want to wish all a healthy, happy and prosperous 2016.
December 21, 2015
Generator bids for the Municipal Building, Senior Center and the Recreation/Buildings & Grounds Building are due Wednesday.
Volunteer applications are being accepted for Recreation Historic Preservation, Board of Health and Municipal Utilities Authority. Applications are also being accepted for the Police Department
November 16, 2015
· The Morris County Open Space Committee has recommended 6 parcels for preservation grants to the Morris County freeholders. Two of the six are in Washington Township and have been recommended for a combined $210,000 in grant fundin
You can get your pets vaccinated for free & licensed at the same time Jan. 8 DPW garage 9-11 AM. The Township Committee is voting tonight to adopt an Ordinance reducing license fees for the second year in a row. If adopted, the 2016 fees will be $10 for dogs and $9 for cats.
The Health Department has a limited supply of vaccine still available for adults 18 years of age or older. If you have not gotten your flu shot yet, please call the Health Department to schedule a time before supplies run out.
Join Washington Township Recreation Saturday December 5, 2015 for a fun filled afternoon with Santa, face painters, a balloonist, and a caricature artist. Our local Long Valley restaurants will cater this event. The cost for this event is $8.00 per person when pre-registered and free for children under two.
For more information please call the Recreation Department, or visit the township’s website at wtmorris.org and download the registration form. The deadline to register is November 23, 2015.
Also on the Township website is information from the Police Department on a phone scam wherein callers purport to be from the IRS and collecting back taxes. The Library recently held a lunch and learn on this topic.
September 21, 2015
The Rock Spring Park basketball courts will be paved paved around end of month. After setting for two weeks, the lines will be painted. In the spring the courts will be painted West Morris Central colors by the basketball club.
The committee will have an ordinance on its agenda next month to reduce animal license fees from $13 per pet to $10 per dog and $9 per cat for 2016. Additional revenue from increased licensing, while increases in costs have been kept minimal, has allowed the fee reduction to take place.
The Old Turnpike Road bridge is closed and is expected to reopen mid December.
August 17, 2015
An online article in the Daily Record last Thursday allows readers to view where their taxes for municipalities in the state and by county. Sorting by county shows that Washington Township taxpayers have the smallest percent of property taxes going to the municipality in Morris. We can also look at taxes per person. Wharton Borough annually publishes a breakdown of property taxes per capita for Morris County municipalities, according to which Washington Township has the third lowest municipal tax per resident.
This summer, 4,385 feet of Naughright Road and about 2,080 feet of East Valley Brook from Fairmount to Old Farmers has been completed. Further paving will be done on East Valley Brook beginning on Aug. 24. That will bring the total roadwork bid out to 1.87 miles, an additional .75 miles of overlay and 3.4 miles of chip and oil will bring the total miles to six.
This does not include the Morris County funded work on West Mill Road which will be another 3.8 miles and is anticipated to be completed this Wednesday. The Old Turnpike Road Bridge deck will be replaced between now and December 15. That project will be done by Warren County.
A door-to-door census of dogs and cats was done over the summer. The state requires a census be done bi-annually to ensure licensing. The primary purpose of the licensing requirement is to prevent the spread of rabies. All dogs and cats over seven months are required to beand licensed. Licensing also assists Animal Control Officers identify the owners of domestic animals lost or running at large. The greater the number of licensed animals, the less each license needs to be to cover those costs. Notices in the tax bills along with reminders both by mail and phone increased the number of licensed dogs by nearly 300 in 2013. The fee was subsequently reduced by $2 per license. The census conducted this summer has resulted in the licensing of an additional 400 dogs. A further change to the fee structure will be discussed on a future agenda.
May 18, 2015
Mayor Roehrich: On Saturday, April 25, 2015 at 3pm the Recreation dept. hosted a free “Taste of Spring” dinner for seniors at the Washington Twp. Senior Center. We had 19 Kids for Kindness volunteers as personal servers for the 26 seniors that signed up for the event. The Valley restaurant catered a menu of Baked Ziti, Chicken Parmigiana, Salad, and Boneless Wings. The guests had a choice of different beverages and desserts and were entertained by Harpist Patricia Turse.
The event was very well received and a copy of a heartwarming letter sent by one of seniors to the Kids4Kindness was sent to the Township. Because the seniors had such a good time, the Rec Department & Kids4Kindness quickly put together a free night of Pizza bingo scheduled for June 12 @ 5pm. The Recreation Department will be providing pizza and the Kids for Kindness will be providing prizes.
There will be a tremendous amount of road improvement progress at both the municipal and county level this year:
Last year, the county sought input from the Township on a study for future improvements to Schooley’s Mountain Road. A design plan for improving the intersection of Schooley’s Mountain Road and Camp Washington was funded in this year’s county budget. The County is currently reviewing design proposals.
West Mill Road from Beacon Hill to the county line was milled last week by the county. Paving was scheduled for this week and may finish days early. The county will also be paving from Beacon Hill to the light.
This summer the Township also has several major road reconstruction projects scheduled. During the early summer, as soon as possible after school gets out, 4,385 feet will be milled and paved on Naughright Road and about 2,080 feet of East Valley Brook from Fairmount to Old Farmers. In August, when the camp is on break, E Valley Brook will be milled paved from Old Farmers 3,790 feet east. The total distance is just under 2 miles.
Repaving will be done on Black River, Pickle and Apgar. The DPW will also be doing as much chip and oil as time allows which will extend the life of the roads. If approval of plans submitted to the DOT happens in a timely fashion, sidewalks will be extending along the southbound side of East Mill Road to the Sunoco gas station.
The SafeWise Report released its “100 Safest Cities in America” report two weeks ago. Thanks to the outstanding work of our patrolmen, detectives, traffic and K-9 officers, supervisors, administrators and support staff, Washington Township is the 15th safest city in America and the second safest in New Jersey. To compile this report, SafeWise used the most recent FBI crime data from 2013 to analyze and rank municipalities with a minimum population of 10,000 people.
The Township recently settled a lawsuit filed against it. To clarify some of the original reporting: The Township maintained and continues to maintain the four-year term of the former Assessor expired June 30, 2014. The settlement was made solely to avoid the cost of litigation and to resolve all claims by the plaintiff; there is no admission of any wrongdoing by the Township and no requirement for reemployment. The municipality is responsible for its $20,000 deductible as well as 20% of the combined settlement and defense costs above that amount, which is estimated at $40,000. Though the insurance company has not done final invoicing yet, the Township share is expecting to be around $28,000. Fortunately, the reorganization of the Tax Assessing Office will save the Township about $24,000 annually. While the new Assessor did receive a salary of $60,000 with her promotion from assistant she remained a full-time employee; the former Assessor worked seven office hours per week at a salary of $52,795 per annum. The assistant position was filled with a part-time hourly employee.
Update provided at the April 20, 2015 Washington Township Committee regular Meeting
Mayor Roehrich: The budget public hearing adoption is on tonight’s agenda. The tax increase will be 1.84% which is $33 per year for the average homeowner. The tax increase would have been 1.5% if not for a loss of ratables. This year we set aside $780,000 for roads as the winter was especially harsh.
We have received a grant for East Mill Road sidewalks in the amount of $150,000. The grant, along with $50,000 already set aside by the township and $20,000 that is included in a capital ordinance to be introduced tonight will be used for sidewalks and a retaining wall from the corner of Fairmount Road to the Sunoco gas station.
Clean Communties week will be May 23 to May 30. Anyone interested in volunteering with the cleanup can contact the DPW. The week will end with a paper shredding event on Saturday, May 30 from 9 am to noon.
Update provided at the March 16, 2015 Washington Township Committee Regular Meeting
Mayor Roehrich: Budget Introduction is on tonight’s agenda. The tax increase will be 1.84% which is $33 per year for the average homeowner. The tax increase would have been .25% less (about 1.5%) if the total net valuation remained the same. This year we set aside $780,000 for roads; not including $450,000 appropriated last year for East Valley Brook which will be done in 2015.
Municipal service requests for 200' Lists, property record cards, additions to the website calendar, reporting dumping, potholes, power outages, tall grass, zoning violation and unlicensed animals can now be made online. The link to the request form is available at the top of every page on the Washington Township website.
Officials from the DOT have reviewed data collected in 2014 and have expressed a willingness to support a change in the Schooley’s Mountain Road weight limit restrictions which will be discussed tonight.
File of Life magnets from the 1st Aid Squad are now also available at the front office, the Health Department and the Senior Center. A card with info about medical conditions can be filled out by residents and placed in a pouch with a magnet to attach it to their refrigerator. A window sticker then alerts emergency responders to its presence.
Michael Cuccaro Eagle Scout Candidate for Troop 436 is pursuing an aggressive project to install Public Access Defibrillators in all municipal parks. His original goal was to raise $3,000 for purchase of units, but he has since increase his goal to $5,000. To help Mitch reach his goal he is sponsoring a Beef Steak on April 10 at Saint Luke’s Church. The first park to receive AEDs will be Palmer Park, if additional funds are raised more parks will receive AED.
Yesterday a Town Wide Cub Scout Pine Wood Derby was hosted at Cuccinella School. This was a first for all Dens competing on one day. It was a great success.
Update provided at the February 16, 2015 Washington Township Committee Regular Meeting
We've had very cold temperatures but fortunately, there were no power outages during the weekend's storm.
There will be a budget meeting tomorrow in the Senior Center at 6:30 p.m. All are welcome and encouraged to attend.
Update provided at the January 19, 2014 Washington Township Committee Regular Meeting
Morris County has reduced speed on Schooley’s Mountain Road to 25 miles per hour from James Trail to the center of town. You may have noticed their signboards about the reduction and warning of slippery conditions.
There will be a budget meeting tomorrow in the Senior Center at 6:30 p.m. All are welcome and encouraged to attend.
There was a rabies clinic Saturday, Jan. 10. Over 200 vaccinations were given; it was one of our largest turnouts on one of the coldest days of the year. One hundred and three licenses were done. This was the first time the licensing was done at the same time as the clinic.
Update provided at the October 20, 2014 Washington Township Committee Regular Meeting
Vice-Mayor William Roehrich:The County Engineer’s office did a site visit last week at the Columbia Trail crosswalk on West Mill Road. The county removed some vegetation and will contact property owners about vegetation removal on their properties. They will have an answer on speed slowing mechanism, such as a sign with blinking lights, by end of week.
New warning signs were installed by the county last week on Schooley’s Mountain Road where several accidents have occurred. The County is looking to do an overlay of high friction material (will not be red material tested a few years back) or micro-surfacing by end of November. If it cannot be done by then they will mill that section.
Schooley’s Mountain Road line painting will be redone when overlay or milling is done. They will send someone to look at Bartley Road where the lines have been coming off.
There will be a meeting of First Responders, Health and OEM to determine what equipment needs to be acquired Wednesday. A police officer is in training at Hackettstown Hospital as we speak.
There are two new drop-offs in the township. The DPW has installed the eyeglass and hearing aid drop-off for the Lions Club at the Municipal Building. Also, the Police Department obtained DEA approval and has installed a drop-off for prescription drugs and other medications.
On Nov. 8 at the Long Valley First Aid Squad Building on East Mill Road there will be an adult health screening.
The COAH board met and failed to pass the third round of affordable housing regulations. There is no timeline as to when it will happen so we will have to just wait for the time being.
Vice-Mayor Roehrich then asked Comm. Tracy Tobin for an update on the paper shredding event held Sept. 27
Committeeman Tracy Tobin:This year, over 20,000 pounds of paper were shredded at two events. The one during the summer was overwhelming; the truck filled to capacity. This month’s went more smoothly. There was no wait longer than two minutes. That event was limited to township residents - ID was required to get stickers - because the event had become so popular.
Update provided by Mayor Short at the September 15 Township Committee Regular Meeting
The county will be repaving 2.4 miles of Bartley Road. The road will be milled and later repaved, beginning this week. The project will take seven days.
Saturday, September 12 was the Police Department 50th Anniversary Celebration. Over 200 people attended even with all the rain. There were many former Chiefs, officers and other employees and current officers. They were joined by current and former Township Committeemen, legislators and the Police Pipes and Drums of Morris County. There were demonstrations, tours and food. The Chief and Lt. Niemynski did a great job on the celebration.
This is emergency preparedness month. I urge all residents to fill their gas cans, fill their prescriptions and test their generators. There are other tips on the township website’s Office of Emergency Management page. In three of the last four years we’ve had major outages this time of year.
Update provided at the Monday, August 18, 2014 Township Committee Regular Meeting
Mayor Short: Washington Township is the only community in Morris County to receive a Discretionary Aid grant from the Department of Transportation. We received $250,000 for East Valley Brook Road. Because school will be starting soon the work will be done next summer.
On September 13 at the Police Headquarters, there will be a celebration of the Police Department’s 50th Anniversary. There will be speeches, food, demonstrations, an inspection, tours and an opportunity to meet current and past officers and Chiefs.
The Route 46 Bridge replacement closure began August 16 and is supposed to last until August 26. The backup today was several miles so I strongly suggest drivers take alternate routes. There will be intermittent lane closures on Schooley’s Mountain Road between Newburgh Road and the county line the next two days. Milling and paving will not begin there until August 27. Bartley Road will be paved this fall.
Mayor Short then asked Committeeman Tobin to provide an update on the Green Festival and Family Fun Day held on August 16
Comm. Tobin: The Green Festival is about raising environmental awareness in the Township. That has been combined with the Recreation Committee’s Family Fun Day these last two years. Family Fun Day started with a historic baseball game at 11:30 that some members of the public got to participate in. There were also various activities for children of different ages and a K-9 demonstration by police. This was the best Green Festival of the three we’ve had. There was a wide variety of vendors and educational displays.
Mayor Short: There is another township event upcoming: on Sept. 10 before the Township Committee Work Session there will be an Open House. This will be an opportunity for interested residents to learn about volunteer groups and committees.
Update provided at the July 21, 2014 Regular Meeting of the Township Committee
Work began on Schooley’s Mountain Road today, the Route 46 bridge will be closed August 16 for ten days and the Newburgh Road bridge is closed. The County will be paving Bartley Road around October. Paving has been completed on Naughright Road, a Township road, and we are waiting to hear back on a grant application for founding for E. Valley Brook Road. Please be patient, there will be some inconveniences with all the road work, nearly 12 miles in all, but it is much needed.
An Attorney who has negotiated a pending settlement with Cooper Chemical over environmental compliance has expressed interest in redeveloping the site.
On August 16, Aa Green Festival and Family Fun Day will be held at Rock Spring Park. There will be numerous vendors and $1 hot dogs and hamburgers.
On September 13 at 3 p.m. a 50th Anniversary Ceremony open to the public will be held at the Police Department. Food will be provided and many past officers and Chiefs will be in attendance.
A bucket truck was purchased in an auction for $6 from Morris County. It will take a few thousand dollars to bring it up to working condition, after which it can be employed for tree trimming and building maintenance.
Update provided at the May 19, 2014 Regular Meeting of the Township Committee
Prior to this Regular Township Committee Meeting, I met with representative from various volunteer committees to get an update on their business, issues, and progress.
New COAH requirements were announced on May 1. It appears going forward Washington Township will be required to rehab 20 units and to build 11 units within the Township. The Township has ten group homes, did numerous buy-downs and maintains 1 rental currently.
The Memorial Day Celebration will be held at the Senior Center on May 24, 2014 at Noon. It is a moving ceremony and I encourage everyone to attend.
The Newburgh Road Bridge will close on June 24 for 6 to 8 months.
There will be a meeting on June 17 with the Highlands Council to discuss the possible construction of residential and commercial structures, a firehouse and a 30,000 sq. ft. community center in Long Valley.
A Schooley’s Mountain Safety Study was conducted by the County. A 58 page document will be released with suggestions for safety enhancements.
Between the Township and County paving project, Schooley’s Mountain Road, Naughright Road, Black River Road, Hacklebarney Road, Bartley Road and West Mill Road - as well as about 8 miles of chip and oil - will be done this year. Some of Parker Road will also be repaved as part of an EPA project.
Update provided at the April 21, 2013 Regular Meeting of the Township Committee
Over the past few weeks the Administrator and I met with DEP Assistant Commissioners and other DEP representatives and consultants about the Fenni more landfill in Roxbury Township. There has been some discussion over whether some of the contents would be trucked out or capped. Washington Township’s concern was the release of Hydrogen Sulfide during removal. Fortunately, the site will be capped based on the recommendation from DEP.
I’ve also met with the Freeholders regarding county roads and other concerns. The concerns were well-received and have resulted in a two meeting scheduled for next week. Myself, the Administrator and a representative of the police department will meet with staff from the county’s planning and public works department and a freeholder on Schooley’s Mountain Road safety and the Newburgh Road bridge replacements.
We have also had a meeting with Highlands Council staff on a possible redevelopment area designation along Route 46.
There will be a drug collection this Saturday at the police department from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The bare-root tree planting scheduled for this Saturday has been rescheduled to May 3 due to weather conditions. The trees cost about $50 each but planting can cost $450 to $500. So to get more trees planted, the DPW digs the holes and the Shade Tree Commission and other volunteers do the planting. Fifty-five trees will be planted off Flocktown Road those who wish to volunteer can contact Shade Tree Commission Chair Steve Zaikowski at 201-874-9105.
At this Wednesday’s Planning Board meeting, a conceptual plan for a Long Valley Center will be presented. It will include the potential relocation of the Long Valley Firehouse, commercial and residential development including affordable housing as well as a 30,000 square feet community center with pool.
From April 1 to 21 the Township’s Police Department has participated in the UDrive, UText, UPay initiative. Nearly 200 summonses have been issued.
Update provided at the March 17, 2014 Regular Meeting of the Township Committee
The Township Committee has spent the last 6 weeks working on the budget. Basically, it amount to dealing with a very difficult winter season. We exceeded $100,000 for Department of Public Works Overtime, exceeded our salt budget and the roads took a big hit. If not for the cost of winter operations, the budget increase would have only been .68%.
The 2014 Budget includes an extra $30,000 in DPW for patching and salt as well as $720,000 for roads. Between paving and chip and oil, about 8 miles of roads will be done this year. The county will be paving about five miles of county roadway in Washington Township including parts of Schooley’s Mountain Road and Bartley Road.
The municipal tax levy will increase 2.89% which equals about $42 for the average homeowner. Of that increase, $26 is for winter operations. However, we need to not fall behind on roadwork. Most roads last 25 to 30 years, chip and oil extending their life by about five year, and there are 140 miles of municipal roads that need to be maintained.
The 2014 Budget also includes about $44,000 for slurry spreaders. This mixture, can be applied before a storm. This means that the DPW can be sent out during regular hours rather nights and weekends for storms. There could be a savings of $80,000 - $90,000. The slurry mix is being used in Mendham Borough and Bedminster Township; Committeeman Tracy Tobin has been instrumental in its adoption here.
There were only three minor outages this season. Compared to the three or four last year when we had thousands out at a time, it appears JCP&L’s improvements are working.
Update provided at the February 17, 2014 Township Committee Regular Meeting
Once again, we are expecting another storm tonight. I have been in contact often with JCP&L over the last few weeks and their communication has been excellent. Last Thursday evening there was a transformer fire which our Fire Department put out quickly. JCP&L restored power within the 3 hours they estimated.
Budget meetings are being held every Tuesday night at the Senior Center and the public is encouraged to attend. There have been 21 snow events this winter. Material expenses this year have already exceeded our normal appropriation. The Governor’s Office has announced these expenses can be budgeted outside the 2% tax levy cap, but we will be working to keep it within the cap.
update provided at the January 20, 2014 Regular Meeting of the Township Committee
Mayor Short recognized Martin Luther King Day and stated that society has come along way in the past 50 years, and that we should be thankful for the freedoms that we have and the open mindedness in our government and our society.
The CERT Team recently took part in a CERT Disaster Drill., replicating a Gas Explosion. It was very real and very informative for all participants. Boy Scouts and other volunteers were victims and Mayor Short was very impressed by the expertise and professionalism of our emergency personnel responding to the mock scene.
Mayor Short urged residents to be prepared and take caution for the pending snow storm this week. Ten inches are expected tomorrow.
Budget Meeting dates have been set. The meetings will be held at 6:00 PM at Senior Center on February 4, 11, 18, 25, and March 4. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend.
Safe Wise – Mayor Short read an excerpt from recent report acknowledging that Washington Township is the 4th Safest Community in the State of New Jersey.
Mayor's speech given at the January 4, 2014 Township Committee Reorganization
update provided at the November 18, 2013 Regular Meeting of the Township Committee
Newburgh Road has been closed periodically for prep work. The bridge demolition will likely not happen until the spring. As soon as a date is scheduled with the County we will publicize it. The Route 46 bridge will also be closed but only for one week. There is a meeting on Nov. 25 and more details will follow.
There have been several Veteran's events recently and a replica of a panel of the Viet Nam Memorial with John Lindaberry's name is on display in the back of the courtroom. John Lindaberry died 46 years ago this past Saturday, when a road at the Califon Road Cemetary was named after him during a ceremony. A road at the Zion Lutheran Church was named for Vincent Fields during a ceremony on the 11th. Over the summer, a road in Rock Spring Park was named after Jamie Smith.
There have also been several events at the schools this past week. The Washington Township Veterans' Association did an excellent job organizing and advertising the events. Overt 50 people were in attendance at each one. The Police and Public Works Department also did a great job helping.
There will be a Menorah Lighting at Andrea's at 6 p.m. on Nov. 27 and a tree lighting at Zion Lutheran on Dec. 1.
This is a quiet time of year which we are thankful for. We have not had any storms which we are also thankful for and not too many power outages.
update provided at the September 16, 2013 Township Committee Regular Meeting
The Fall Festival will be held this Saturday. It will begin with a larger than ever parade down East and West Mill Roads at 4 p.m. followed by the festival at the Middle School ending with fireworks at dark.
On Oct. 5, a paper shredding event will be held at the Department of Public Works from 9 a.m. to noon. There is no charge but there is a limit of 4 boxes per person.
There were 43,000 in our general area without power this week due to storms. Within Washington Township there were 2,500 JCP&L customers without power due to a tree down and possible lightning strikes. I’ve asked what can be done so this doesn’t happen the next time there is a storm and have been told by JCP&L they are working on an engineering report. This report will determine what happened to cause the loss of power and what can be done.
Other recent happenings include a meeting of the Local Emergency Planning Committee earlier this evening and the ongoing food drive. Our municipality is competing against others in McMatch during the month of September. Donations will benefit the Long Valley Food Pantry which is in particular need of school age lunch supplies.
Road & Bridge Work Update provided at the Sept. 11, 2013 Work Session
The Department of Public Works resurfaced 1850 feet on East Springtown Road last week
Last Friday a Weight In Motion Device was installed by the DOT on Schooley’s Mountain Road in response to the township’s request for a change in the weight limit restriction from “gross” to “registered” weight. The device measures truck weight and traffic. Traffic control was provided by the state police and the Township DPW assisted in the weight calibration. At the township’s request it was placed before Big Turn so the trucks stalled and turned around or towed at the turn would still be counted. The measurements taken by the WIM could also be used to request state police enforcement of overweight vehicle.
From September 9, 2013 to Sept. 13 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. resurfacing of Schooley’s Mtn. Rd. in the area of JamesTrail to Camp Washington Road will be done by the Morris County Department of Public Works. Traffic will be one-lane in alternating directions. Please plan an alternate route to avoid traffic congestion.
A firm start date on the Newburgh Road Bridge project has not been determined. However, the county has committed to signing a week before the closure. The project is expected to take one year.
update provided at the August 19 Washington Township Committee Regular Meeting
The Department of Transportation sent investigators to visit Schooley’s Mountain Road last week in response to our request for a weight limit change. We have requested the language be changed from gross vehicle weight to registered vehicle weight to aid in enforcement. We expect a response from DOT within a week.
The county will be paving the section of Schooley’s Mountain Road by James Trail in early September. Widening of the eastern shoulder of Bartley Road between Palmer Park and West Morris Central High School should be completed by next week.
I’ve met with the Morris County MUA concerning the rate increase for waste pickup by Sanico. I’ve also read dozens of pages of legislation and do not expect to see a change in the increased garbage pickup fees. For years, we’ve had lower rates as the requirement to dispose of waste in-county was not strictly enforced. Residents and businesses do still have the option to shop around as garbage disposal services are available from different vendors including:Raritan Valley Disposal (908) 534-4004
- Sanico (908) 475-3300
update provided at the June 17 Washington Township Regular Meeting
Bids on roadwork for Old Farmer’s Road have been received and will be awarded tonight.
I have met with Evan Ridley in the Governor’s Office and he will be helping us pursue approval for the weight limit change on Schooley’s Mountain Road form the department of Transportation.
The township’s two new police officers have graduated from the academy and are out on the road.
update provided at the May 20 Washington Township Committee Regular Meeting
An update on post-Superstorm Sandy actions will be posted on the website and provided to Patch and the Observer-Tribune.
A joint meeting with the Planning Board will be held June 12 to discuss a request for a zoning overlay across from Heath Village.
Over $46,000 was awarded to Washington Township for its Clean Communities program.
The township's Office of Emergency Managements is training about a dozen new Community Emergency Response Team members which will bring the total CERT team size to over twenty. The OEM also organized a Shelter management training class which was attended by many CERT members, other residents, township employees and even officials from other municipalities.
The big event of the township's 275th Anniversary year will be the parade, festival and fireworks on Sept. 21. The rain date will be September 22.
provided at the April 15 Township Committee Regular Meeting
There were two power outages this past week. On April 10th, 1,551 residents in Washington Township, Califon and Chester were without power for over 2 hours due to a lightning strike. A repeater on Furnace Road was manually reset by JCP&L and power restored. On April 13th, 503 customers of the Chester substation were without power for 102 minutes due to a tree that came down on power lines.
Washington Township will be providing the services of its CFO and Tax Collector to Califon beginning May 1. The shared service will generate $30,000 in revenue. The total shared service revenue in this year’s budget is $500,000.
provided at the March 18 Township Committee Regular Meeting
A town hall meeting with Congressman Leonard Lance will be held in the Washington Township Municipal Building meeting room on Monday, May 25 from 5:30 to 6:45 p.m.
I will be meeting with the freeholders this Wednesday to discuss local concerns including: Schooley's Mountain Road safety issues (Long Valley Bypass), the condition of Schooley's Mountain Road (need of repaving), parking for Columbia Trail (fence and markings of crosswalk), construction of a shoulder on Bartley Road for walking(between Palmer Park and H.S.), trees/debris on the shoulders of County Roads that has not been removed, reopening of Schooley's Mountain Park for swimming, skating and boating, communication issues (County dispatch), potential for continuous "green arrow turn signal" at the intersection in the center of town, and weight limitations on Schooley's Mountain Road.
On Thursday, I will be meeting with JCP&L Area Manager Stan Prater to discuss staging areas for their work crews during emergencies, and additional information for circuit maps. He will be presenting a $1,000 donation form JCP&L for the township's 275th anniversary celebrations.
We have reached an agreement in principle with Califon Borough to provide them Chief Financial Officer and Tax Collector services.
provided at the February 18 Township Committee Regular Meeting
I have had three meetings with JCP&L since Superstorm Sandy, the latest last Thursday. I have also met with the Board of Public Utilities. The Office of Emergency Management has also met three times. We have met with neighboring communities to discuss regional shelters. We have also met with residents as well as emergency responders to discuss communication improvements.
Intense tree trimming by JCP&L contractors is continuing. Trimming by helicopter along high tension wires from the Hastings area to that of the West Morris Regional High School was scheduled to begin on the 18th and continue through April 1. Discussions with JCP&L on improving communications are ongoing. Circuit grid maps have been provided to the Township.
Letters were sent to electricians and plumbers asking them if they had an interest in being placed on a list to be used in the event of emergencies. Letters were also sent to area gyms and health clubs asking them to open their shower facilities during emergencies. Another round of CERT (civilian Emergency Response Team) training will begin in March. Shelter management with other municipalities is also being discussed.
The cell tower at 1 East Springtown Road is now operational and has a 210 galloon diesel tank for a backup generation of power. Equipment at the tower on West Springtown Road near Zellars Road will be updated and a 210 gallon diesel tank has also been installed.
Radios have been installed in vehicles to improve communications between DPW and Police. Sandwich style boards, for emergency updates when electronic communications are outare in the process of being constructed. These boards will be placed at key locations throughout the Township in event of electronic communication failure. A critical location list provided to JCP&L. A letter supporting legislative remedies has been sent to our representatives in Trenton.
The township is applying for generators at the municipal building and senior center. We are also working with the local Board of Education and MUA to make Old Farmer’s Road School a shelter.
JCP&L has been notified of damaged poles and will be returning to repair spliced lines.
In other news, the new fire truck and ambulance have been delivered and are being painted and equipped. We’ve been meeting with the local board of education about a land swap which will enable them to implement solar power at the middle school. A budget meeting will be held Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. at the Senior Center. To get under the 2% levy cap, $160,000 will have to be cut form the budget requests. All budget meetings are open to the public and we encourage all residents to attend.
provided at Jan. 21 Township Committee Meeting
Recently, I have met with members of the Board of Public Utilities and have had a couple of meetings with JCP&L management. I will be meeting next week with their Area Director to express some additional concerns. So far, they have responded to our suggestions and requests for maps and information. However, this process will have to be continous and extend over a period of time.
We will begin holding budget meeting shortly. Over the last four years the municipal budget has decreased by over $900,000 but there has been a greater decrease in revenues.
Growth is at a near stand-still with only 11 Certificates of Occupancy and 1 building permit for new homes issued in 2012.
There will be a mayors' meeting in Chester Borough on Jan. 31. The mayors of the Chesters and Mendhams and I will discuss shared services and emergency management coordination. We will be meeting every two months and the meetings will be open to the public.
The township is working with the DEP, EPA, MUA and the K-8 District on obtaining a generator so Old Farmers School can serve as a shelter.
There will be a Flu Clinic Saturday, January 26 from 9 am to noon. Vaccines will be available for 5 and older for $20; there is no charge under Medicare Part D.
joint message from West Morris Regional School District Mayors
To: Residents of the West Morris Regional District
Due to Super Storm Sandy, we continue to deal with the massive impact this natural disaster has had on our towns. As a result, our next Mayors’ Advisory Meeting will be held in January.
Our goal in June of 2011 was to work together to inform and engage our residents in a thoughtful and honest conversation regarding the configuration, funding and quality of our Regional High School. We met with the Department of Education and apprised them of our situation, and in February of 2012, the DOE journeyed to our district to give us an objective view of our schools. Those of you who attended the meeting or saw the presentation on any of the town or school websites, know that the DOE believes we have an excellent school with a diverse curriculum that offers not only scholastic excellence, but the sports, arts, activities and support to enrich our children and prepare them for the future.
The Mayors worked diligently to reach consensus on a study but, due to strong positions taken by all involved, all five towns unfortunately could not arrive at a consensus. We all agree that a comprehensive study addressing all possibilities and funding combinations could have been explored. This opinion was also supported by the County and by educational law specialists. Funds were budgeted by the communities to pay for a study, but now the monies set aside by each municipality in 2012 for the study will not be re-budgeted for 2013. We will continue to pursue the legislative solution regarding regional school funding that would provide local flexibility to adjust funding scenarios in the future.
This issue has created animosity between our towns that is neither productive nor is it reflective of our communities as a whole. It is time for all us to move on and proactively work together on issues we can accomplish as a collective community that will benefit all of us.
The five mayors agree our meetings have provided the opportunity for some much needed dialogue between our towns and have opened doors for us to work together on issues beyond education. For this reason, we will focus our January meeting on the lessons learned during the Sandy Storm including ways to address JCPL’s performance and explore any shared services that could help us during such critical times.
We encourage all of our residents to attend this meeting and participate in our efforts to make our entire community a wonderful place to work and live. We want to extend a special thanks to the Boards of Education representatives who have donated their time and energies to work with us these last several months.
We look forward to seeing you on January 31, 2013 at 7:30PM the Chester Borough town hall.
MAYORS 2013 MESSAGE provided at the Jan. 1, 2013 Township Committee Reorganization Meeting
First, I would like to thank the Township Committee for the confidence you have placed in me to be Mayor in 2013. As Mayor, I will continue to accept the praises as well as the complaints from our constituents. However, I want to remind the public that all five Committee members have an equal vote and share equal responsibility in making all municipal decisions. We volunteer for the love of the community.
2012 proved to be another challenging year. During the budget process, it was necessary for this Committee to make difficult, but necessary decisions to keep our municipal budget under the 2% mandated cap. I am proud to say that the increase was a mere 1.39%. This also included all debt and pension payments which could be excluded. I do want to remind the public that only 15% of the taxes you pay go to the municipal government. Despite an extremely tight budget process, several improvements were made throughout this past year. In 2012, we paved approximately 5 miles of roads, purchased a new ambulance (to be delivered in 2013), purchased a new fire truck (to be delivered in 2013), purchased additional radio communications equipment to comply with the mandated January 2013 narrow banding requirement, purchased two police cars, will soon close on seven acres (open space fund) to provide for the connection of two large preserved parcels, expanded our conservation easement monitoring program, and purchased a new senior bus. In addition, the Township Committee also budgeted for a "fire review study" to analyze the three volunteer fire departments as to their equipment, training, and personnel. The study should be completed this month. We also worked jointly with the K-8 BOE as to the construction of a bus maintenance facility to be located at the DPW location on Rock Road. Construction should be completed by June of 2013. This facility is projected to save the taxpayers approximately $125,000 per year in maintenance costs that are currently being outsourced. This savings along with a decrease in our K-8 student population hopefully will show a decrease in our local school budget.
This budget year (2013) will prove, once again, to be challenging. The effects of the Highlands Act, the stagnated economy and recent loss of revenue due to commercial tax appeals will once again require some sacrifices. Increased health insurance costs and pension payments will also be a detriment to the 2013 budget. We have, once again, asked all the municipal departments to submit flat budgets for 2013. The municipal budget has decreased by over $900,000 over past four years. However, revenues have decreased at a much greater pace. I can assure you that this Committee will do everything possible to keep the municipal budget flat or at a minimal increase in 2013. I also want to invite all of our residents to attend our budget meetings as well as the BOE budget meetings. The meetings are open to the public, very informal, and your concerns are valued.
Washington Township was recently selected, by New Jersey, to be a model community for shared services. Currently our shared services arrangements bring in approximately $500,000 annually in revenue to the municipality. We will continue to work smarter and more efficiently with the surrounding communities to consolidate operations to save our residents money. A meeting has already been scheduled for this month. There will be some major personnel changes in 2013. Administrator Debbie Burd and Police Chief Michael Bailey have announced their intentions to retire this year. Contemplating these retirements, this Township Committee took positive actions in 2012 to provide for continuous and efficient operations. We will be very diligent in selecting replacement personnel for these positions. Some goals for 2013 will be for continuous paving of roadways in the Township, purchase of generators for the municipal building and other municipal facilities, purchase of digital sign boards, upgrade of communication systems, create public access and trails to our municipal open space/recreation parcels, complete the downtown commercial sidewalks, and look into the possible relocation of the Long Valley Fire Department. The year of 2013 also marks the 275th anniversary of Washington Township. Monthly events have been scheduled throughout the year. In addition, plans are currently being worked on for a festival, parade, and fireworks display in September.
Hurricane Sandy reminded us how humble we are to nature's forces. The continued interruption of power and prolonged power outages will not be tolerated. I will be giving testimony at a Board of Public Utilities meeting tomorrow. I will also be meeting with JCP&L representatives on January 10th to discuss power issues and how these may be mitigated in the future. I have received valuable input from the public, DPW, police, emergency services, and our OEM and will relate these ideas to get positive results. We will also concentrate heavily on communication issues as well as expanding our CERT team (civilian emergency response team).
I am proud of how our community came together during the power outages that followed Hurricane Sandy. Our OEM, DPW, Police, Fire Companies, and First Aid Squad performed brilliantly as did our CERT team and volunteers. But most of all, I am most proud of our residents. They opened their homes to neighbors, family, and complete strangers in a time of need. Food was offered as well as sanitary facilities and showers. Volunteers stepped up, churches opened their doors, neighbors removed downed trees from homes and to allow for access, meals were served by community groups and generators were shared with others. The community came together and we all survived. Despite all the preparation, we must be more prepared in the future. We must all take more personal responsibility. Many residents also became aware of the local radio station (WRNJ) which provided updated communications over the 14 days of power outages. It is not a matter of will we have prolonged outages in the future, but rather when. My commitment is that this Township Committee will take the necessary positive steps for better communication and preparedness in the future.
I want to thank all the volunteers that dedicate their personal time for the benefit of the community. These individuals are not the complainers, but rather the folks that leave their own families to help others in the time of need. On behalf of the elected officials of Washington Township I want to wish all the residents of Washington Township a healthy, happy and prosperous 2013.
provided at the Dec. 17, 2012 Township Committee Regular Meeting
Several post-Sandy evaluation meetings have now been held. A meeting was held last Tuesday on improving the well-check program last week with the Health, Senior and Police departments. On Wednesday I hosted a public meeting on improving emergency communications. There will be a BPU meeting in Morristown on January 3. A meeting is also schedule with the mayors of the Chesters and Mendhams to discuss emergency management cooperation on the 10th. I've also scheudle a meeting with Mark Jones a Vice-President at JCP&L been completed. The new cell tower behind the police station is almost completed. The 4G and 500 gallon diesel storage tank for the tower's generator should help ensure cellular communications during future emergencies. The township is working with the EPA and DEP as well as the school district to get a generator at Old Farmer's School so it can be used as a shelter or warming center in the future.
In other news, Washington Township has been chosen as a model municipality for its shared service agreements. The necessary paperwork for the bus maintenance facility has been completed and the facility should be ready for the 2013-14 school year. Residents are encourage to sponsor awreath through ICOWTA, donations will benefit the Interfaith Food Pantry at Long Valley Presbyterian.
Measures have been taken by the Police Department and Board of Education to heighten security. Though all the details cannot be shared, there will be a police presence and increased patrols at the local schools.
provided at the Nov. 19, 2012 Township Committee Regular Meeting
Zion Lutheran church will be holding a non-denominational service Wednesday night. They will hold their annual tree lighting Dec. 2.
There will be a post-Sandy debriefing with the Office of Emergency Management, CERT, Police, DPW and other municipal departments.
The past three weeks have been a real challenge to residents of the North East, New Jersey, and Washington Township. It is humbling that despite all the proactive measures that were taken; the wrath of Mother Nature still has her way. This is the third storm that has struck Washington Township in the past four years. All have been devastating, but Super Storm Sandy was, by far, the most devastating and powerful. My statement on Patch on October 27th stated that this Hurricane may be catastrophic.
The hurricane was predicted well in advance. Residents were cautioned to prepare for a long lasting devastating event. In order to avoid some issues with last year’s October storm, I communicated with JCP&L requesting that out of state crews be staged in the area and lodging be secured. This was acknowledged by JCP&L area manager, Stan Prater. I was advised that it had been taken care of. Nixle messages were sent to Township residents as well as communication on Patch and the Township web-site. I called for an OEM meeting on Friday, October 26th. The meeting was attended by our OEM team, CERT (civilian emergency response team), police, fire, first aid, DPW, Health Dept., administration as well as several of the elected Township officials. This was the first of numerous meeting that took place over the next couple of weeks. Jimmy Smith, Bruce Clark and others continued in preparation which was to be the worst storm to ever hit NJ. Morris County OEM became heavily involved and requests were made for digital message boards, generators, water supplies, sleeping cots, ice, as well as priority contact numbers. Residents were again cautioned as to the potential severity through our communication channels.
The full impact of the storm hit Monday. Scott Frech, DPW Superintendent, had half his crew stays the evening for tree removal and other potential issues. I received a call that evening at 11:45 from Scott stating that he had to take his crews off the road as trees were coming down all over and this was life threatening to the workers. One actually hit a DPW truck. The workers were to sleep at the Senior Center; however like 96% of our residents the Senior Center also lost power and heat. Some slept in their cars, others at police headquarters, DPW facilities, and the First Aid Squad Building. Police Headquarters was on generation power, no land lines for communication, no internet and cell phones were “dead” due to generation failures at cellular towers.
I arrived at OEM/Police Headquarters at 7:15 AM to find several police officers, Jimmy Smith and Bruce Clark. Immediate decisions had to be made that could potentially affect every resident in the Township. Virtually every street in the Township was impassable. The second half of the DPW crew reported for work. Several had to be picked up as trees blocked their passage. We were in a complete state of emergency. The DPW crews, as well as our three fire departments and numerous residents all came together and began to clear our streets and driveways. We had to have an open access to every resident that may need emergency assistance. At the end of the day, every resident could be reached, if necessary, by emergency vehicles.
I can’t give enough gratitude to all those who pitched in as a community helping neighbors, friends, and unknown acquaintances. The dilemma was that we couldn’t remove trees that had “live wires”. High priority call numbers were used to contact JCP&L officials. It took over 36 hours to receive a response! I participated in a conference call with the Governor’s Office as did other mayors, pleading our case for assistance. Unable to contact the radio station, I drove to Hackettstown and recorded my first of over 25 messages to the residents of Washington Township. That is in addition to four live interviews.
The CERT team reported for duty. Another OEM meeting was called. Warming shelters were set up at Fairmount Fire Stations as well as Schooleys Mountain Fire Dept. A gentleman by the name of Elmer Dey, a longtime resident attended. He was a licensed Red Cross Shelter Manager. Elmer worked endlessly throughout the event at both fire houses. CERT members worked at the shelters as did other resident volunteers. Arrangements were made with Morris County OEM for additional water and ice supplies additional cots and the request for generators. Internet was not available and the Township was on generators. Charlie Davidson and I spent four hours driving around town accessing damages and answering residents question in preparation of FEMA. FEMA arrived the next morning as arranged and Neil Ruggiero (Construction Official) toured the Township for an official declaration. The OEM hotline number rang continually. It was manned for days by volunteers. These were individuals that left their homes, took personal time from their jobs to handle requests of their neighbors in town. I made contact several times a day with Senator Bucco, Assemblyman Bucco, Congressman Frelinghuysen, and Congressman Lance. These elected individuals worked extremely hard for their constituents. I also reached out to Senator Menendez office. They relayed information, problems, street closures, immediate needs, etc. directly to JCP&L. My messages and concerns to JCP&L were unanswered or proved to be a public relations campaign. Most of the provided information was false. Their promises were simply their hopes.
I felt it necessary to put pressure on JCP&L. I did over 25 segments with WRNJ Radio (a real savior to our residents); I was on National Public Radio, NJ 101.5 radio, municipal handouts, digital signboards, The Star Ledger, Daily Record, as well as an interview with Associated Press. I received calls from residents in Virginia and Ohio wanting to know what they could do to help. Finally, we started getting attention as to our needs. Numerous daily conference calls continued, hourly calls to our legislators as well as radio segments and updates on Nexle, Tweet, Township web-site, Observer Tribune and Patch.
The Senior VP of External Affairs from First Energy as well as the Regional Manager called me and said they didn’t like what I was saying. I told them I only began and was more disappointed by the minute. I told them that all I need from them was the truth. People can handle the truth but we can’t let our residents live in hope and despair. Tell me what really is happening.
Arrangements were made to have our police officers visit the homes of the elderly and special needs residents. Water supplies and food supplies were made available and delivered. The Salvation Army, Red Cross, Wheels on Meals brought in food and was distributed in our shelters and to others in need. The Township also arranged for the “Dog Pound” hot dog truck to supply hotdogs to our residents at Rock Spring Park. Arrangements were continually made for special need families and aid was given. Arrangements were made for drop-off locations for spoiled foods. Cris Cook-Gibbs inspected the commercial establishments for sanitary conditions and spoiled food supplies.
Myself, and other volunteers spent dozens of hours every day caring for our residents and using every means possible to get power restored. The truth is that JCP&L restores power to the highest population centers first. They try to hit the greatest restoration numbers. Sadly enough, with our 45 square miles and 18,500 residents, we will remain as a non-priority with the current JCP&L structure. JCP&L numbers were erroneous, their estimations were wrong and quite honestly I was lied to by JP&L numerous times. As they would relate information to me, I would release it to the public. Unfortunately, wrong information.
I had scheduled a family trip last year. I feel it needless to address this issue, but because there has been so much misinformation, I will address it briefly. I spoke with other Township Committee members and felt confident that, in my absence, they were well qualified and available to continue the recovery operations. Tracy Tobin, the most senior Committeeman, and I discussed the process of recovery and the actions that were being taken. Tracy has been on the Township Committee for almost 30 years and served, in the past, as Mayor and Vice-Mayor. Tracy and I probably spent 60 hours together the previous week addressing the issues and I felt confident that he would handle the crisis to a conclusion. All the elected official contact information was exchanged. We spoke together with representatives of JCP&L and new contact information was exchanged. I had all the confidence in Tracy and made the decision to continue with trip plans. If I had not had complete 100% confidence in Tracy and the other Township Committee members, as well as my ability to communicate while out of State, I would have not taken the trip. The Township Committee is made up of five elected individuals and we each have an equal voice and vote. The Mayor position is voted on in January of each year as the leader and sometimes that leadership role must be delegated. I stayed in contact, while away, and received updates and related information as needed.
Let me clear up a couple of rumors….
I. I was not on a trip with Bill Roehrich (my wife Sue and close friends)
II. I did not take a Township generator to my home. In fact, I purchased a generator, and when my power was restored, I loaned it to others (including gas).
III. I was in contact with the owners of the Sunoco Service Station as well as the US Dept. of Energy attempting to get them a generator to pump fuel.
IV. I did lose my power like everyone else and restoration took approx... 7-9 days. My power was not restored first.
V. Yes, I did have damage to my home
VI. I did not have internet access or land line telephone service.
VII. No, I do not own stock in First Energy Corp.
Where do we go from here? I think we have to recognize and acknowledge that power outages will continue to be a challenge in the future for residents of Washington Township and the surrounding municipalities. The steps that the Township took were to make things a little easier. It was like placing a band aid on an open wound. The wound, in this case was JCP&L and their lack of professionalism, care, and actions. I plan on taking the following actions: 1. I have scheduled a “de-briefing” meeting next Tuesday with OEM and key personnel as to what we did correctly and what steps we could have taken to make things more bearable. 2. Form a consortium of mayors and elected officials to address JCP&L and their lack of response. 3. Work closely with FEMA to help arrange for assistance where it is warranted. 4. Bring our municipal concerns directly to First Energy and the Board of Public Utilities. 5. Apply for Federal assistance to recover the money the Township spent during the days following the storm (FEMA). 6. Form a volunteer citizen group to work on solutions and suggestions to communication issues and other issues that could arise. 6. Ask our Assemblyman and State Senator to work on legislation for possible “regulation” of JCP&L which would include major monetary and accountable operation standards. 7. Apply for grants to have generators in our municipal offices and schools. 8. Arrange for “mass purchasing” of generators at a discount price for those residents interested. 9. Form a list of “volunteer electricians” who can assist our residents with generators and electrical issues. 10. Express our concerns to Verizon Wireless, Verizon, and Comcast and to back-up generation systems. 11. We will seek aid and assistance to residents on the availability of FEMA or other disaster aid. 12. I will have our attorney monitor all legal actions against JCP&L and advise us on our course of action to become involved.
I would ask all residents to remember that every volunteer left their home to help others. Some took time from work to volunteer to help others. We are expanding our CERT team and I would ask those in the audience with community concerns, not their personal concerns, to volunteer to be part of that group. This is not a political issue. This is about concerned citizens helping others in the time of need. Finally, I am extremely disappointed in JCP&L. I am tired of their promises and will do everything in my power to make sure our residents are not treated as a third world nation in the future. Throughout the storm and subsequent days, I spoke to and e-mailed hundreds of residents about their concerns. I was unable to retrieve dozens of messages left on my home phone due the power outages and I apologize to those individuals that I was unable to speak with.
Throughout this crisis, there was one positive note. It was the complete display, by our residents, of human kindness. There were no serious injuries or loss of life within the Township. However there was a loss of life by two Township residents as they drove through Mendham during the storm. It is my understanding that there is a fund set up for their four children. I would ask each of you to consider making a donation.