Mayor's Address 2024
2024 Mayor’s Address
First, I’d like to congratulate Christine on winning her third term on the Council and Jeff for starting his first term. I look forward to working with you both.
The annual Mayor’s Address is my opportunity to reflect on the past year’s accomplishments, to thank all our employees and volunteers who make us all look good, and to look forward to our plans for the new year.
So first, some of the highlights of 2023:
The Borough Council dedicated its road improvement funds to making the much-needed improvements to Bernards Avenue and the surrounding neighborhoods including Grove Street, Maple Street Extension, Lower Garibaldi Street and Mine Avenue.
With the retirement of our administrator Tom Czerniecki, we hired Nancy Malool, who has done an outstanding job of making our departments more streamlined and efficient.
With a focus on safety and quality of life, we worked with NJDOT to install a new pedestrian crosswalk from the train station to Bistro Seven Three and improved the signage at our other crossings. With a Safe Streets grant and the help of Ridewise, we conducted a study of the five corners intersection on Claremont to find ways to improve pedestrian safety. We invited JCP&L to a Council meeting to respond to residents’ questions on storms and outages. And at another meeting, we hosted Chief Remian to discuss the recent car thefts with residents.
Thanks to the efforts of the Recreation Department and The Mayor’s Wellness Campaign Committee, Bernardsville moved up from bronze to silver and is now designated as a Healthy Town to Watch. We also received the Bronze rating from Sustainable Jersey, thanks to our Green Team and Jeff Hammond. The Recreation Department’s Trails Committee helped clear and mark the trails and listed them on the Borough website to make them easier for residents to find and use.
The non-profit 501(c)3 Law Enforcement Foundation that was created two years ago held a successful fundraiser at Upton Pyne and with the funds raised, provided an appreciation breakfast for our police department, made improvements to the practice range, and provided new equipment.
The Borough’s collaboration with MainStreet Bernardsville brought a vast array of activities and events for our residents and businesses.
Looking forward to 2024, we will see the completion of Phase I of the Comprehensive Recreation Plan. At the Polo Grounds, the pickleball courts are open and being well used, and plans have been completed for the pavilion which will include restrooms and a kitchen, improved lighting and a walking path that will connect with the Old Army Trail and the Audubon.
The Council invested a great deal of time, which included several public meetings, reviewing the redevelopment plan for the Palmer properties which will now advance to the Planning Board for site approval. I, along with the Council, am committed to redevelopment that honors the historical and aesthetic nature of our downtown. Our goal is to create a downtown that is attractive, safe and pedestrian friendly. Our Land Use Committee will continue with plans for Quimby Village, but on a scaled down basis.
Our work over the last few years as a Governing Body, and the endless efforts of organizations like Main Street Bernardsville and our many volunteers throughout the community, I am proud to say, has created a real renaissance not just for our downtown, but for our community. This is evident by new businesses wanting to set up shop here, including David Burke’s Red Horse, rising property values, and record number of attendees at our events throughout the year. It is a really exciting time to be a resident of Bernardsville, and it was fitting that the New York Times, of all papers, featured our community in its real estate section at the end of 2023.
While we’re excited that our borough and businesses are growing and thriving, it has brought a higher demand for parking, which is actually a good problem to have! The Council will be hiring a traffic and parking engineer to review our current and future parking needs. It has taken a while, but we expect to finalize plans to redevelop the former Audi dealership and the train station building in 2024.
We will also be moving forward with our required affordable housing projects. Through careful planning we were able to avoid a builder’s remedy and the loss of open space as these projects will be incorporated into the downtown community.
And, of course, 2024 is our Centennial year, so there will be a number of opportunities to celebrate our history.
Finally, I want to thank all our employees who have provided endless service to our community and all our volunteers who so willingly give their time and expertise to improving our town. The theme that continues to run through all our past accomplishments and future goals is collaboration and I am grateful for all the departments, boards and organizations that have supported our efforts to make Bernardsville a wonderful town in which to live and work.
As we move into the new year, there will be many opportunities for residents and businesses to share their ideas, time and talents. Change and growth can be challenging, and it is my hope that by working together, we will successfully navigate through those challenges and create a positive future for our community, where we truly live up to our motto of small town, big community.
I wish you all a very happy and prosperous New Year.