2015 State of the City Address

Reverend Clergy, Members of the City Council, Elected Officials, Honored Guests, friends, family and residents:

 

Community connections are the foundation for:

·         information sharing

·         creating partnerships

·         strengthening relationships

·         meeting needs and demands through technology

 

They function as the catalyst for creative approaches and solutions for a stronger, more accessible City.

 

As technology evolves, we are  providing:

·         agency connections

·         and the latest information - at your fingertips

 

The Parking Authority launched a new MobileNOW! Application -  includes a

pay-by-phone feature:

 

·         available via download on smartphones

·         for use at over 400 parking meters

·         increasing convenience and options

·         leaving more time to enjoy all our City has to offer

·          

Innovation and new products enable us to implement upgrades - think outside the box - or in the case of Midtown - add the more effective box:

 

·         Replacing single meters

·         Enabling payment by debit/credit cards, bills and different denominations

·         Available in multiple languages

 

Improving connections, integrating technology, provides our community with the resources they need.

 

Gone are the days when you had to wait for access to the library:

·         to learn

·         to be informed

·         or broaden horizons

 

The app offered by the Elizabeth Public Library allows you to:

 

·         Look for the newest released book

·         Renew items already checked out

·         And search for programs, classes and events

 

The new App connects you to the library - 7 days a week, 365 days a year - anywhere, anytime.

Re-thinking approaches to information sharing are how connections within our community are reinforced.

Traditional access and standard operating hours no longer satisfy the challenging schedules of our hard-working residents.

 

As part of a successful pilot program, the Elmora Branch of the Elizabeth Public Library opened its doors for the first time on Sundays in October - because life does not only happen during the week.

 

Whether it is through innovative technology or finding more ways to increase outreach and raise awareness, connecting with residents is how we improve upon what is good  - and achieve what we know can be great.

 

Making services available is not enough - if the community does not know how to connect with assistance being offered.

 

Our Public Health Nurses provide the protections our City needs to:

 

·         Stay well

·         Maintain their strength

·         Live full and productive lives

           

·         Helping 344 clients at the STD Clinic

·         Administering over 600 adult Flu shots

·         Providing more than 700 immunizations

 

Early detection of life-threatening illnesses, especially cancer, saves lives - therefore, in an effort to encourage overall healthy living we:

 

·         Give employees 4 hours off to receive Cancer screenings

·         Participated in National Dress in Blue Day for Colon Cancer Awareness

·         Raised money for Breast Cancer Awareness

·         Held Get Fit Day  - supporting the First Lady’s Let’s Move initiative

 

Promoting more participation and reinforcing connections, 2 new senior buses were added.

 

Providing residents with all the Health Department has to offer in a condensed, service showcase, the First National Public Health Week was sponsored:

 

·         In partnership with health providers, community groups

·         Testing, screenings, classes

·         Connected attendees with dedicated professionals - sharing knowledge and resources

 

(Pause - Transition)

 

Smoking has been proven to have negative effects on overall wellness.

 

Talking about these dangers is one thing, but taking steps to prevent their impact throughout our community sends a message that we are ready to lead by example.

 

 

 

 

An ordinance adopted to ban smoking on City property includes:

·         Municipal parks, outdoor grounds of buildings

·         Within City vehicles

·         Recreational areas owned, leased or utilized by the City

 

Improving environments begins with addressing concerns -  and City Inspectors continue to work hard:

 

·         Responding to over 1700 housing complaints

·         Making sure action is taken to maintain health and safety

 

And through upgrades and enhancements, the Housing Authority is enriching lives:

·         Installation of Backup Generators in Farley Towers, Kennedy Arms

·         New heating and hot water system

·         Completed kitchen renovations at Mravlag Manor

 

Connections are about finding out what matters  - and focusing on ways to deliver those services - in order to achieve goals and make a difference.

 

Providing the ability to hone skills, develop talents and connect with others, the Recreation Department offers and supports free:

·         Activities and events

·         Dancing, arts & crafts classes

·         Sports facilities, after school programs

 

(VIDEO)

 

In addition to eighteen playgrounds:

 

·         Operated seven spray fountains, five day camps

·         Provided daily, free lunch, snacks to over 1400 children during July and August

·         And the Mickey Walker spray park saw another successful year

 

O’Brien Field has re-opened and been transformed to include:

·         Synthetic turf soccer field

·         New playground equipment

·         A gazebo

 

And opening this summer, the new, in-ground swimming pool at Erxleben  will provide a place to:

·         Cool off

·         Learn how to swim

·         Stay healthy and fit

 

Later this year:

·         A new synthetic turf field at Kenah

·         Spray fountain and sitting areas at Miller-Evans-Logan

·         New spray feature, lighting, equipment at Jackson Park 

 

Recreation can mean different things to different people - we embrace them all.

 

For the past eleven years, Groundwork Elizabeth has spearheaded the Tour de Elizabeth:

·         Attracting more than 800 riders

·         Highlighted the 350th anniversary of Elizabethtown and New Jersey

·         Connected bicyclists to our diverse neighborhoods, exciting development and new initiatives

 

Working with local partners, Groundwork has:

·         Harvested fresh produce, connected with those in need through Come Grow With Us!

·         Provided opportunities through Green Workforce and Youth Green Team

·         Collaborated with community and stakeholders on Walkability Study

 

(VIDEO)

 

Our environment is  impacted by:

·         Climate change

·         Storm systems

·         Economic development, revitalization efforts

 

They modify existing conditions and alter landscapes.

 

Some elements are within our control - some beyond; but we always place the safety of our residents first.

 

An effort to ban fracking waste at the State was vetoed by the Governor - but the decision to not continue placing our municipality at risk was immediate and clear.

 

The connection between cost verses benefit - was obvious and once the inaction occurred in Trenton, it was time to make our decision official.

 

Incorporating a legislative safeguard was the right thing to do for residents today and the future of tomorrow’s generations.

 

The Elizabeth City Council adopted an ordinance banning fracking waste throughout our community:

·         Securing integrity of natural resources

·         And defending against harmful byproducts and toxins

 

and the Union County Freeholders showed their support by passing a resolution and banning fracking County-wide.

 

Supporting healthy neighborhoods, the Public Works Department:

·         Planted more than 200 trees through  Greening Union County

·         Completed more than 7400 hours of work through Clean Communities

·         Connected with local churches and schools, providing assistance with recycling and special clean-up projects

 

Maintaining our streets includes enhancing and improving infrastructure to support current connections to services as well as future developments:

 

·         The South Street Flood Control Project - new pumps, separate storm sewers

·         Reducing flooding at Trumbull and Sixth Streets

·         Road resurfacing and reconstruction

·         Rehabilitation of Recreation Pier - Veterans Memorial Park

Design has been completed on the Westerly Interceptor:

·         Increasing conveyance capacity through Midtown

·         Improving sewer flow to  Trenton Avenue pump station

·         Cleaning more than 2000 linear feet to remove sediment

 

The connections our residents and visitors are trying to make are important.

 

Ensuring that our transportation corridors operate at an optimal level is essential. And this vision is applied to every opportunity where:

·         Advancements can generate a valuable return

·         Satisfaction is increased - money saved

·         And operations can be made greener

 

Through the Department of Energy -  $2 million dollars are being used to furnish and install roof-mounted, solar systems at:

·         Mickey Walker and Erxleben

·         Sampson and Peterstown Centers

·         Emergency Response and Public Works facilities

 

And this funding will also provide solar-powered:

 

·         LED pedestrian signals

·         Stop signs

·         Mobile message boards - improving community connections

 

Solar-powered products are conserving energy, contributing to our Go Green initiatives - but everyone knows that change begins at home.

 

Through the $1.76 million dollar, Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant:

·         LED lights at City Hall and Police Headquarters

·         Creating brighter work spaces

·         Reducing energy consumption and cost

                                                                 

 

This grant is also funding:

·         HVAC at Peterstown and Police Headquarters

·         Water conserving faucets at City Hall

 

In order to procure a state-of-the-art communications system that meets needs and expands capabilities,  a contract was awarded for the replacement of all telecommunication technology at City-owned facilities, enabling:

 

·         Night, weekend and holiday greetings

·         Directions, hours of operation, public service announcements

·         Sharing of voicemail with e-mail - Staying connected during non-traditional hours

 

We are also exploring how better connections can be made through a technologically-advanced Geographic Information System:

 

·         Linked to our website - accessible from mobile devices and tablets

·         Capability to define locations, specify criteria, implement layers

·         With consistent updates - providing current and accurate data

 

Innovation and technology provide avenues to:

·         Enhance connections within the community

·         Create new opportunities

·         Provide services that meet expectations and support growth

 

New Jersey’s first African American Cultural and Learning Center has been completed and will open this month.

 

Spearheaded by Siloam Hope Cares and NJ Community Development Group, this successful, private/public partnership features:

·         Culinary arts

·         Multimedia curriculum

·         Art gallery, music studio

 

·         Connecting with history

·         Building foundations

·         Strengthening our City

 

Creating connections on every level is vital - but when it comes to the health of you and your family - connecting to:

·         Knowledgeable physicians

·         Receiving effective treatment

·         Having access to the latest innovation - can be life-saving

 

The talented, medical professionals at Trinitas Regional Medical Center continue to:

·         Administer services

·         Improve departments

·         And develop new locations to deliver the best in health care:

 

·         Breast Cancer Patient Navigation program  - helping more than 100 women

·         Dedicated new, $5.2 million dollar, 9,500 square foot, Ambulatory Surgery Center  

·         Began an $18 million dollar renovation and expansion of Emergency Department - doubling treatment beds,  streamlining care

 

Anticipated to be completed in 2017, improvements will provide a better equipped ER to accommodate the 72,000 emergency visits each year.

 

When you do not feel well or are facing challenges - everything in your life is impacted. It is during these times that support is most needed.

 

Community Development Block Grant celebrated its 40th anniversary and along with the Emergency Solutions Grant, continues to be a catalyst for:

·         Change

·         And assistance

From help with child care to job placement and training, CDBG continues to make the delivery of quality services possible within our neighborhoods.      

 

(VIDEO)

 

The Retail Skills Center has transformed into the Workforce Innovation Business Center:

·         Training 112 residents

·         Helping 581 people secure jobs

 

And the Elizabeth Development Company continued to build on last year's successful On the Job Training:

·         Providing job readiness skills

·         And placing more than 70 people in meaningful employment

 

As New Jersey’s 4th largest municipality - space is at a premium. The smart growth initiatives and increased housing - support our growing population;  but that is only part of the equation.

 

In order to create successful neighborhood connections - you need places that:

·         Offer goods and services

·         Drive the economy

·         Keep business local

·          

The Elizabeth Avenue Partnership has helped transform one of our busiest streets into a thriving, commercial corridor.

 

And with diverse eateries and specialty shops - everyone has a favorite.

 

Events and programs always draw a crowd and the Avenue continues to attract businesses - showcasing the best The Market has to offer:

·         Sidewalk sales, Farmers Market, Heritage Festival

·         Removing litter and graffiti through Clean and Safe Program

·         Improving safety and security with  Extra Duty Walking Patrol

 

There are a lot of choices to shop in our City- but our Special Improvement Districts distinguish themselves by finding more ways to connect with the community.

 

New initiatives include:

·         The Elizabeth Avenue Restaurant Tour

·         Re-imagining Utility Boxes by painting murals as part of the City Art program

·         Working with PSE&G to incorporate more lighting

 

Elizabeth Avenue had quite a year and so has our Midtown SID with:

·         Annual car show - connecting vehicle enthusiasts

·         Power Washing Initiative - restoring the appearance of shops

·         Sign and Façade Program - helping stores better advertise and promoting a uniform look

 

But connecting what is being done at home with the world - requires us to:

·         Find new mediums to market services

·         Use technology as a platform to raise awareness

·         Demonstrate, through social media, what people are missing

 

And now more than ever, connections are made online.

 

Our Facebook, Twitter, Nixle - along with City and Youth websites, have become popular forums to:

·         Exchange ideas

·         Notify the community

·         Stay connected

·          

And we have added Elizabits and a municipal Instagram to our efforts - highlighting:

·         Events

·         Local food

·         Neighborhood participation

 

For our residents, who may not be online but want to stay connected - a new, 24 hour cable channel has been established.

 

On Channel 39, Fios1 will offer all day access to the services provided within the City of Elizabeth, including:

·         Our City television show

·         Community bulletin boards

·         Information about events and programs

 

Elizabeth is known for our:

·         Historic significance

·         Contributions as a transportation and economic hub

·         And notable figures, who called our City their home

 

From Judy Blume and Joe Long to Admiral William Halsey - many, who were part of our community, have gone on to achieve great things and through their efforts, touch the lives of millions.  

 

Although today they may live elsewhere, their connection to our City remains strong.

 

Now a famous chef and restaurateur, it is that tie that brought Tom Colicchio back to star in our newest marketing video, which:

·         Supports local dining establishments

·         Emphasizes that some of the greatest food can be found here

·         Best shared with friends and family

 

(VIDEO)

With the Elizabeth Destination Marketing Organization, the Greater Elizabeth Chamber of Commerce has been generating and renewing interest:

 

·         Creating a brand identity

·         Attracting new visitors

·         Increasing stays at hotels and shopping venues - including one of our most popular destinations: The Outlet Collection - Jersey Gardens

 

The Mall saw another exciting and successful year:

·         With business up 10%

·         International visits up 37%

·         From top markets including Brazil, Germany and Israel

With New stores:                                                  

 

·         Michael Kors

·         Ralph Lauren

·         Penguin and Cashe

 

 it continues to exceed expectations and connect millions with our great City.

 

With more people going to:

·         The Outlet Collection - Jersey Gardens

·         Eating in our business districts

·         Attending school

 

Safety and security remains a priority.

 

And this month, 4 new police officers will be hired:

 

·         All are veterans

·         Who have proudly served our country

·         And will now proudly protect our City

 

Training has been increased to improve effectiveness:

·         More hours in tactical decision making

·         61 members certified to administer the life-saving drug Narcan in overdose situations

 

The Elizabeth Fire Department continues to connect with residents and meet needs through:

 

·         Education

·         Inspections

·         Response

 

When an emergency call comes in - having the proper equipment and vehicles can make all the difference:

·         In addressing issues

·         Securing scenes

·         and determining the best course of action

 

This year, 3 new ambulances will be purchased:

·         Increasing the current fleet

·         Supporting emergency medical professionals

·         Providing quicker and additional services

 

We are also better equipped to address hazardous material events with:

·         Foam Delivery Unit

·         Chemical Support Unit

·         Quick Attack Unit - All funded through Port Security Grants

 

Planning for the unexpected, makes our City more prepared to provide the help needed.

 

 

This includes enhancing our capacity to produce a rapid and powerful defense against fires with:

·         A 2000 gallon per minute Fire Engine

·         Trench Rescue and Extrication Equipment

·         Battery-operated Positive Pressure Fans -  decreasing carbon monoxide exposure to firefighters

 

It is because of:

·         Projects, initiatives, advancements

·         Sound financial planning

·         Responsible application of resources

 

that Moody’s Investors Service affirmed the City of Elizabeth's upgrade to an Aa3 rating with a positive outlook.

 

And from our municipal departments to our local partners, we are:

·         Building

·         Reinforcing

·         Improving connections

 

To make our City:

·         More resilient

·         More prepared

·         More able to assist

 

Creating a connection is more than just:

·         Extending a helping hand

·         Directing someone

·         Or having places to go

 

It is also about:

·         Providing the personal attention

·         Investing in our residents

·         Applying innovation to improve accessibility and realize possibilities

 

President John F. Kennedy once said, "Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction."

 

The state of our City is strong and we continue to:

·         Serve with purpose

·         Deliver results

·         And move forward toward a bright and promising future

 

May God Bless the City of Elizabeth and May God Bless the United States of America.

 

 

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