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Mayor's Message-2014-03

Mayor's Message - March, 2014
I am honored to serve as your Mayor of Pequannock Township for 2014.
After a long cold winter, spring is finally here! The Town Council would like to thank our DPW employees for all their hard work and exceptional service they provided to our community during the harsh winter months. With the amount of snowfall and bitter cold temperatures they sure had their work cut out for them and did an amazing job.
Also, a heartfelt thank you to our Police Department and to all the men and women who volunteer on our Fire Department and First Aid Squad. Your dedication is noticed. Thank you for keeping our community safe.
Work is underway at Plaza 23 to accommodate Stop & Shop in the space where A&P used to be. Stop & Shop management has already reached out to the Township to begin planning for their grand opening which is expected to be in May. This year marks their 100th anniversary and the Pompton Plains store will be the first one they open in 2014. The Township of Pequannock welcomes them.
We recently held a public informational meeting for all the residents and business owners who will be impacted by the long awaited and planned for sewer extension project, commonly referred to as, "The Village Area Sewer Project". Construction will begin in April and last approximately 18 months.  This project will extend sanitary sewers to the Village, the Pompton Plains Business District, portions of Route 23 and PV School. Recent revisions of this project have also added properties that will be served along Leeland Ave. and on Route 23. The total estimated cost of this project is approximately $16,100,000 and will bring 400 more property owners up on sanitary sewers. Expect traffic impacts and detours during construction. Police will identify necessary road closures and detours. Please allow extra time to travel locally. Road surfaces, during construction, will be rough, but patched regularly and full road resurfacing will be done at the end of the project. Access to businesses will be blocked for short periods with advance notice given. Access to individual homes will be blocked for short periods and there will be some noise impact from construction equipment and the dewatering process. We will communicate to the community during the project using e-mail notifications, AM 1620 Radio Station, Channel 77 and the Township Website. We will also use the Police Department Nixle for any Emergency Information.
We are holding our Annual Riverbank Cleanup on Saturday April 5th from 9:00 - 1:00 pm. Volunteers are still needed for this cleanup day. Donate as much time as you can: No need to commit to the entire 4 hours. Whatever time you can give will be appreciated. Just report to the Senior House, adjacent to Town Hall at 9:00 am (until noon). We will deploy volunteers to designated cleanup areas. For more information you can contact the Parks and Recreation Office at 973-835-5700 ext. 145.
In late February, the DEP announced De-snagging Grants for the Passaic River Basin totaling $3,000,000 to 36 local governments. Pequannock received funding for both grant applications submitted totaling $400,000. A joint application with Lincoln Park for the East Ditch/Beaver Brook received $150,000 in grant funding and a continuation of the Ramapo, Pequannock and Wanaque project received $250,000 in funding. These applications were submitted jointly with Lincoln Park and with Pompton Lakes & Riverdale. The process of obtaining permits is already underway. DEP also indicated that the permit process will be expedited for these projects.
We continue to work closely with our District 40 leaders, State Senator, Kevin O'Toole, and  our Assemblymen, Scott Rumana and Dave Russo, to ensure continual pressure and communication is put forth to the DEP and to our Governor regarding the lowering of the reservoirs before the rainy season. Senator Kevin O'Toole recently sent a letter on behalf of his District and on behalf of residents in the Passaic River Basin regarding the reservoirs that feed into the Passaic River. Given the amount of snowfall this past winter, and as we enter the spring season with melting snow and eventual rainfall, the communities in this area will once again be at risk for potential flooding issues. The request to DEP Commissioner Bob Martin and Governor Christie is to begin the process now of lowering the reservoirs that feed into the Passaic River Basin in advance of the rainy season. I thank all the residents for your notes and letters. I know many residents have taken action by sending their own letters to the Governor and Commissioner Martin and should continue to do so. We will be following up to ensure a process to lower the reservoirs is in place.
On March 6th, the Army Corps of Engineers and DEP presented their re-evaluation of the Passaic River Basin projects during a meeting of mayors and other local officials in Pequannock. This was the completion of the Phase 1 study which evaluated long-term flood risk management alternatives to help Passaic River Basin communities deal with chronic flooding.  A field of 6 projects was narrowed down to 3. They are:  1) Dual Inlet-Newark Bay Outlet Tunnel. 2) Nonstructural measures such as flood-proofing, elevation of homes, and private property buyouts. 3) Alternative 14A: Levees and floodwalls combined with the nonstructural measures. In the second phase, Army Corps will perform more detailed engineering, hydrology, hydraulics and cost benefit analyses. The Army Corps and DEP are holding public meetings now to discuss the Phase I report and discuss next steps. For more information visit www.nan.usace.army.mil/Passaic
The, long awaited, West Franklin Ave. improvement project is underway. The underground work, water main and drainage construction is complete. Work has begun on the remaining improvements which include a sidewalk on the North side, curbs, drainage and full pavement reconstruction of the road.
Bids have been reviewed and contract awarded for the Boulevard sidewalk project. Available funding will complete about 50% of the remaining sidewalks. On the west side from Sunset Road to Ackerson Ave. will complete that side. We will also do sidewalks on the East side from Sunset to Tilley Ave.
We are getting ready to mail out a Township Resident Survey. Look for it in the mail. We would like to have your input on projects and initiatives moving forward.
Have you registered your "Property Tax Reward Card" yet? Back in September, the Township mailed out, to every resident, a letter and reward card to launch a new Shop Local incentive program that allows residents, as well as visitors to our community, to shop at many of our local businesses using the reward card, and in turn receive a percentage of their purchase amount back as a property tax credit. Visitors can receive a yearly rebate check for the amount of savings, subject to a small processing fee. This means the more you shop in town, the more you reduce your property tax bill. This program has proven successful both as a savings to residents, and a way to encourage increased shopping in local businesses. If you did not receive the card and letter in the mail you can go down to the Municipal Building to the Clerk's office to pick one up. To date about 1,400 families have registered their cards and there has been a total tax credit savings of about $18,000. There are currently 27 businesses signed up providing discounts to our residents and local shoppers. To register your card go to www.propertytaxcard.com. For more information on our Township Economic Development Committee, visit their Website at www.pickpequannock.com. "Like" us on the EDC Facebook page at Pick Pequannock.
Don't forget that Memorial Day is just around the corner. We will hold our annual Memorial Day Parade on Monday May 26th at 10:00 am. There is a lovely tribute and Memorial Service  directly after the Parade at the First Reformed Church Cemetery. It would be great if the community could join in this to help honor our veterans and current soldiers. These brave men and women have sacrificed so much for their country and to protect our freedom.
The Township Council will continue to make tough fiscal decisions to control spending and protect your taxpayer dollars.  We realize these are still financially hard times for most and will work hard to minimize any potential increases, without sacrificing services. I am pleased to report that The Town Council has finished its 2014 budget review and is scheduled to introduce our Municipal Budget with no tax increase. Our property taxes are made up of the Municipal tax, the School tax, and the County Tax. The Municipal tax, controlled by the Town Council, and the Morris County tax, controlled by the Freeholders will not increase. The School tax, controlled by the Board of Education, should only increase slightly. The school budget goes to the voters on April 23rd.
Please feel free to contact me anytime at 973-809-4401 or e-mail me at mlynch@peqtwp.org if you have questions or concerns.
Mayor Melissa Florance-Lynch

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