Tom Menard, Mayor of the Borough, gave this address at the January 2021 Council Reorganization Meeting
It is an honor to serve as mayor alongside my fellow councilmembers and Deputy Mayor, Lauren Barnett. And thank you Councilman Shepard for serving as our mayor this past, very challenging, year. We sincerely appreciate your commitment to our community. I also want to thank our town manager, Mitchell Stern and our police chief, Shawn Bennett for their leadership in dealing with the Covid -19 response and all the measures that had to be taken to keep our residents safe. During this incredibly challenging time, they went above and beyond, working many long days and we are very grateful to them and their support staff for their dedication.
Thank you for the continued commitment of our entire Mountain Lakes Police Department and Volunteer Fire Department. They work tirelessly for our community and their efforts are very much appreciated. Finally, our Public Works and Borough Hall employees have continued to serve our community by providing high quality services throughout the year.
I believe that one aspect that makes Mountain Lakes Such an exceptional town are our many talented volunteers serving on our committees, boards and commissions. You are truly one of our treasured assets. We thank you.
2020 was a very eventful year! With the Covid -19 pandemic came many concerns and we focused on continuing our tasks while keeping residents safe. We learned how to navigate many zoom meetings and found a way to forge ahead to improve Mountain Lakes and address our needs with these constraints. Our goal continued to be making infrastructure investments while balancing our tax burden. Much was accomplished this year. Highlights included:
- The new Island Beach Pavilion, bathroom, snack and guard shack which were completed on time and in budget. These facilities will improve the resident’s enjoyment of Island beach immensely.
- The Borough Hall renovation/addition project was unanimously approved by Borough Council and ground was broken in November. This will bring that building up to today’s code standards specifically for ADA requirements and public safety. This was a long overdue project and a true necessity.
- A state grant was approved and the work is close to completion for the new sidewalks and repaving of Morris Avenue. This will enhance pedestrian accessibility and safety immensely.
- Our affordable Housing Committee has worked diligently on the accessory apartment option for our residents. This will allow residents the ability to create a legal accessory apartment that may be rented, which will aid in meeting our affordable housing obligation.
- The Sunrise Assisted Living property is nearing completion and that will offer a substantial ratable to our tax base. I think it is coming along nicely and looks great. We are working to bring more projects of this type to town.
Mountain Lakes continues to be a beautiful town and a wonderful place to call home as we proceed with improvements. These achievements have been a collaborative effort, directed by council, overseen by the Borough Manager, and executed by our borough employees, Department of Public Works, volunteers and contracted partners.
We remain committed to fiscal responsibility, effective communication, transparency, delivery of high-quality services and continued stewardship of our environmental resources and unique character of our community. We are grateful to have the opportunity to serve in this capacity and look forward to a great year focusing on making smart decisions that best serve our borough’s current and future needs.
As we begin a new year, let’s work together. We hope to hear from you, our residents, employees and partners. Make us aware of your concerns and opinions as well as ideas you have for creative solutions. My hope is to collaborate and together we will work on the issues that impact and improve our town the most.
Mayor Tom Menard