Reverend Clergy, members of the City Council, elected officials, friends, family and citizens; 2012 has been an eventful and unprecedented year for our City.
From new development and jobs to a historic hurricane, the City of Elizabeth always rises to the occasion –
Together, we accomplish this by:
Because we are a City that:
Leadership is defined by many things:
The future of our City demands no less – leaders, who are capable, hard working and ready to take action.
This Year, we will:
It all begins with providing the protection that residents expect and deserve.
In 2012 - our first responders were there safeguarding lives.
Seventeen new police recruits were hired and assigned throughout our City. With this additional manpower:
More than 20,000 incidents required response last year and our public safety forces must be prepared to meet future challenges our City faces.
When a car collided with a fuel tanker on Rt. 1&9 early one Winter morning, Elizabeth Police, Fire and EMS were first on the scene, evacuating Gibbons Court and making sure the area was secure.
More personnel and access to state-of-the-art equipment can be life-saving:
Just as our emergency services require the necessary tools and preparation to be at the top of their performance - our young people require instruction, guidance and opportunities to succeed.
2012 brought the closure of St. Patrick’s - one of the City’s oldest schools.
I worked closely with the administration in an effort to keep the school open – writing letters to the Archbishop - and even the Pope.
Achieving nationwide recognition, St. Pat’s had been a testament to the level of ability and competitiveness - that can be offered by Catholic Schools.
Months later, promise was ignited for a new future - and history to be made. Strengthening educational opportunities for our residents, The Patrick School opened on Morris Avenue.
Re-purposed into an active learning center for our young people, this School marked another momentous occasion for our City.
Continuing traditions and providing role models that connect our community’s future with education and character-building experience - is our Office of Youth.
In 2012, our Building Future Leaders (BFL) program:
· Hosted free SAT classes
· Participated in volunteer and service projects
· Plans for achievement
· Identifying personal and professional goals
Our S.O.A.R. and Safe Haven programs work closely with our City’s students to broaden horizons and support growth.
350 Middle school students were sent to summer camp to learn about:
· Conflict resolution
· And developing positive life skills
As our young people strengthen their ability to work together and express themselves, our Seniors are:
· Sharpening technical and language proficiency
· Excelling in the performing and visual arts
They also showcased their talents in:
· A Multi-Culture Choir that sang at events, churches and municipal buildings
· As well as fashion shows – where they modeled their designs
Just as our City strengthens the services provided to our Seniors – our Seniors volunteer their time to support the community.
· Walking in October to raise Breast Cancer Awareness
· And participating in the first Community Senior Outreach Day
With the ongoing challenges of our economy; free vaccinations, treatments and screenings are strengthening the health of our residents.
In 2012 we provided:
Receiving the proper medical and preventive care is also important to maintaining overall wellness – particularly with babies and children.
Public health needs are met through Baby Keep-Well Clinics and Child Health Conferences.
The Elizabethtown Healthcare Foundation has provided a $10,000 grant that will enable 350 Infant CPR Anytime kits to be distributed - strengthening life-saving skills.
With the 3rd largest Nursing School in the country, Trinitas is increasing the number of trained professionals within our City:
Comprehensive fitness is vital to leading long and productive lives and the City’s Recreation Department continues to offer programs that support strong and active living.
In addition to managing 18 playgrounds and 5 Centers throughout our community, the Department:
Encouraging exercise and skill development, the Department:
Free activitits enable our residents to try new things and for some, develop enjoyable and lasting hobbies.
The Recreation Department continues to receive an overwhelming response for:
And design is underway for the new Holland Playground and Skate Park
Building stronger communities requires investments in affordable housing. The Housing Authority has been working hard to increase opportunities and strengthen existing structures:
· Kitchen renovations at Mravlag Manor
· Elevator upgrades at Kennedy Arms & O’Donnell Dempsey
One of the challenges associated with housing in an urban environment, is not just to identify physical locations– it is making that new construction affordable.
Our Elizabeth Home Improvement Program is strengthening housing opportunities.
The 805 East Jersey Street and Siloam Hope Cares Projects:
Including the City’s first African American Cultural and Education Center:
The 17 million dollar E-Port Homes project will produce:
Renovation of Oakwood Plaza is difficult - but that has never stopped our City before. The strength of our commitment and dedicated partners are turning this vision into reality. One building has been demolished and the current structures will be transformed into new developments.
Whether you live here, travel to Elizabeth for work or visit our municipality - our City is always moving.
Strengthening foundations is essential to having an effective flow of transportation and improved quality of life.
From paving projects to streetscape initiatives, the Department of Public Works has made significant investments in our infrastructure and neighborhoods.
The Elizabeth Parking Authority has supported the City’s Go Green initiatives:
In recent years, our community has been subjected to stronger weather patterns that have brought intense rain and flooding.
To mitigate these issues, awards for drainage improvements have been made for:
For years, many Elizabethport residents had to travel across the City to meet their grocery needs; resulting in additional time and money spent.
We have been working with the Elizabeth Development Company to address this issue, create new jobs and strengthen options.
In December, we cut the ribbon at SUPERFOOD Supermarket featuring:
Many throughout our City and State still cannot find employment and are now faced with unemployment benefits that are set to expire. Creating jobs for our residents and putting people back to work in this challenging economy remains a priority.
We embarked on 2 new jobs initiatives:
More than 200 City residents were hired to perform public works duties throughout our neighborhoods. From cleaning sidewalks and removing debris to greening our streets, the ElizabethHires program provided individuals with a job, where:
This successful program received an overwhelming response and placed our residents’ first. ElizabethWorks focused upon providing our young people with opportunities.
Made possible through the Union County Workforce Investment Act and working hand-in-hand with the Elizabeth Development Company-youth throughout our City were placed with local organizations and businesses.
From Groundwork Elizabeth and Boxwood Hall to Atalanta and Bayway Catering, this program introduced our youth to the responsibilities of work - and rewards that could be reaped - from experience.
The chances of being considered for employment are increased if you’ve already been trained.
The Retail Skills Center has been opening doors and strengthening resumes by providing opportunities to increase knowledge and abilities:
Embarking upon a $30 million dollar renovation project, Jersey Gardens has made great strides in transforming its appearance:
Enhancing the shopping experience - providing more jobs:
Throughout the years, hotels, restaurants and even a movie theater have joined this spectacular landscape in Elizabeth.
A new Applebee’s in 2012:
And coming soon across the street - will be a new Embassy Suites. This $40 million dollar, 8 story development will create 50 new permanent jobs and include:
When the Mall opened, some feared it would adversely impact smaller businesses. That did not happen - and our special improvement districts continue to thrive.
Elizabeth Avenue has a 96 % occupancy rate and has welcomed new businesses that are succeeding within our City:
The Elizabeth Avenue Partnership has been working closely with the City to:
From Catherine Street to Rt. 1&9, improvements were incorporated:
Providing Jersey fresh fruits, vegetables and baked goods, the Farmer’s Market brought vendors from near and far to showcase their products within our City:
The Greater Elizabeth Chamber of Commerce is strengthening business connections and raising awareness with their GoElizabethNJ e-newsletter featuring:
Developed to strengthen the visibility of our community, this initiative will also include reader interaction and contests for subscribers - leading up to the 350th anniversary of our City in 2014.
In the Fall, an unprecedented superstorm made landfall in New Jersey. Hurricane Sandy arrived with a force unlike any we have seen in our lifetime.
Rushing water and an unparalleled storm surge - forced our Boardwalk to be broken into pieces. Our Pier washed away and debris covered the area. Gas restrictions were implemented and the damage throughout our City was evident; however that did not compare to the power that was lost for weeks.
Cold and without heat, our residents struggled to stay warm. There was no electricity - many lost significant food when refrigerators had to be emptied.
This was an emergency our City had never experienced, but we were ready.
As soon as Hurricane Sandy occurred, I reached out to PSE&G and asked for a schedule for when power would be restored. Out of 51,000 PSE&G accounts - 49,000 were without power.
I spoke with PSE&G multiple times a day, fighting for the safety of our residents. I initiated a social media campaign to garner support for Five Off Credit On legislation.
With an online petition, I asked New Jersey’s Legislators and Governor to pass and sign a Bill, which enables residents to receive 1 month of free electricity if they are without power for 5 or more days.
Although our City was suffering, we were willing to help others in need.
In the days that followed, our EMS Division set up their portable field hospital in Seaside Heights - providing a safe place for medical personnel to assist victims.
Our Neptune System, which has tremendous pumping capacity, was utilized by the EFD to remove 2 million gallons of water from the ventilation shaft of the Holland Tunnel.
We have weathered emergencies and storms before – and this will not break us.
We will rebuild what was lost and create a better and stronger Waterfront for our City.
Our City is stronger today because we, the people, pull together during difficult times:
President John F. Kennedy once said, “…we have examined where we are strong…where we…succeed and…now it is time to take longer strides…for a great new…enterprise….”
Soon the Baker Center will transform North Elizabeth - creating pedestrian-oriented services and supporting an all-in-one village.
The City has designated a developer for the 22 acre site, which will:
Demolition of the present structure is underway and upon completion, the Center will create a consumer destination minutes away from mass transit.
Residents and visitors will be able to stroll from store to store along tree-lined walkways, illuminated with decorative lighting.
Commuters waiting for their train to arrive can shop for that last minute gift or relax at an outdoor table - surrounded by green space - all within the complex.
More than 70 percent of New Jerseyians live in urban areas. These are historic cities like Elizabeth - each with their own unique characteristic and potential.
To grow our economy we must take advantage of opportunities that:
Together with the Wakefern Food Corporation and the Elberon Development Company, ground was broken on a new 80 million dollar, grocery warehouse:
Seafrigo is strengthening its operations by moving its current location from Dowd to North Avenue. The $60 million dollar new development will feature:
The new 152,000 square foot FedEx building also strengthened opportunities for our City. Located on Dowd Avenue.
This $45 million dollar development:
Realizing the potential of our great City is all about:
With New Jersey Transit we must develop a new Midtown Train Station:
From stairways to elevators, this new state-of-the-art station will:
It will also provide a direct link to Western Union County with the proposed bus rapid transit project. This surrounding community makes the project even more important because the resources residents need and want are close by.
And this area will become even stronger – with new retail and residential units right next to the Midtown Train Station.
An RFP will be issued this week for the development of Parcels B & D, bringing:
Enjoying a day or night out will be as easy as walking down the street. From residents and visitors to students and professors - unlimited possibilities will soon be available.
The proposed University Boulevard will combine the collegiate experience at Kean University with the diversity and appeal of our exciting City.
Together, this partnership will create a one-stop entertainment, dining and shopping experience along Morris Avenue:
Kean University has been recognized for its talented students and compassion to help others. Applying these resources to strengthen our community, University Boulevard will start with an 8 story building, which will house wellness centers staffed by Graduate Students.
From occupational and physical therapy to speech-language pathology, this initiative will provide:
Further strengthening services:
Celebrating our heritage, University Boulevard will incorporate:
This state-of-the-art destination will include:
The true strength of a community cannot be measured by any number alone - not by its population, size or buildings on its streets– the strength and heart of any City - lies in its people.
Our neighborhoods are stronger than ever because of:
And the shared belief that our strength is reinforced by our ability to:
The strength of our spirit cannot be broken and we are stronger today because our City works together with:
We are transforming lives and improving landscapes for a stronger tomorrow. May God Bless the City of Elizabeth and May God Bless the United States of America.