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MAYOR THOMAS LANKEY

EDISON TOWNSHIP, NJ
2019 STATE OF THE TOWNSHIP ADDRESS

Good evening. Welcome to the 28th Annual State of Edison Township.


It is my privilege and pleasure as Mayor of Edison to continue our tradition of giving our
residents and business leaders an overview of the status of Edison Township and my vision for
our community’s future.
I want to thank the Edison Chamber of Commerce for organizing tonight’s event and to thank
the many sponsors who made tonight possible.
Allow me to thank the business owners and community leaders, municipal employees and
residents here tonight, and the TV viewers at home. Your continued interest and participation
are important to Edison Township’s success.
I would like to acknowledge some special guests in our audience:
State Sen. Patrick Diegnan
Assemblyman Robert Karabinchak
Assemblywoman Nancy Pinkin
Freeholder Charles Tomaro

Edison Township Council


Council President Alvaro Gomez
Council Vice President Ajay Patil
Council Member Joseph Coyle
Council Member Robert Diehl
Council Member Sam Joshi
Council Member Michael Lombardi
Council Member Leonard Sendelsky

Edison Board of Education Members

The Edison Administrative Team

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Business Administrator Maureen Ruane
Director of Law William Northgrave
Administrator of Policy & Strategic Initiatives Melissa Perilstein
Special Assistant Mahesh Baghia
Mary Leight-McAvoy, Lori Williams and Courtney Dill

Edison’s Management Team


Finance Consultant Ken DeRoberts
Engineering Consultant Carl O’Brien & Andy Hipolit
Director of Public Works Anthony Russomanno
Director of Health Jay Elliot
Acting Recreation Director Joyce Fircha
Police Chief Tom Bryan
Deputy Chief Ron Mieczkowski
Fire Chief Brian Latham
Deputy Fire Chief Andrew Toth
Township Clerk Cheryl Russomanno
Library Director Jane Jiang
Construction Code Official John Soltesz
Tax Collector Lina Vallejo
Tax Assessor JoAnn Jimenez
Human Resource Manager June Brescher
Purchasing Agent Laura Popick
Municipal Court Administrator Kelly Sommer
Animal Shelter Manager Kirsten Briggs
Since 2014, my Administration has worked diligently to set Edison Township on a course
toward financial stability.
Our focus has been to make “course corrections” in the way Edison Township conducts
business — ensuring efficiencies and maximizing customer service.
I am proud to say, we have expanded the Township’s commercial ratable base and leveraged
technologies to improve Town Hall operations. We have made technology upgrades,
implemented new fiscal policies, and streamlined our processes.

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My Administration has enhanced the township’s ability to collect and manage our finances. We
continue to follow a strategic financial plan, ensuring that your tax dollars are used wisely.
As a result – I am proud to say – Edison’s financial health is improving.

OUR STATE OF TOWNSHIP


Today — and in the days, months and years to come — my Administration will focus on
building a brighter future for the Edison community.
Our goals are ambitious, but attainable.
To attain them, it will take careful planning, resolve, cooperation and hard work.
Tonight, I declare the “State of Edison Township” is: Charting a path into the Future.
Tonight, I call on each of you to become our partners:
 To our partners in Washington and Trenton, please ensure Edison taxpayers get their fair
share of available aid and grants.
 To our partners on the Board of Education, let us work with you to provide the best,
safest and most affordable public education.
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We must do more cooperative brain storming and work with our school system. I will be
forming a committee that will include my Administration, School Administration, Council and
Board of Education members. The goal of this committee will be to resolve our school
overcrowding issue, school safety, field improvements, shared services and anything else that
will ensure our children have the education experience that a town like Edison can provide.
 To our partners in Edison’s robust business community, please continue your essential
job-creation efforts. Providing more local jobs — which are key to Edison’s overall
success and attractiveness.
 To our partners in the Chamber of Commerce, please continue to promote economic
development in Edison; please fulfill your mission as our ambassadors, attracting new
corporate and commercial investors to our community.
Together we can, and have, made a valuable positive difference to our residents in Edison.

OVERVIEW
Some of Edison Township’s most notable achievements this year:
PUBLIC SAFETY

As you know, I firmly believe public safety is the most essential priority for municipal
government. My administration is committed to;

Keeping our residents safe


Keeping our children safe
Ensuring all motorists traveling on the roadways throughout Edison Township are safe by
utilizing grant funded programs such as “crackdowns on distracted and impaired driving” and
“click it or ticket.”
Ensuring that our commercial businesses are secure, day and night.

The Edison Police Department – under the direction of Police Chief Tom Bryan and his
Command Staff – now has 178 sworn officers.

This includes 9 new police officers hired in November 2018 – most already trained with prior
law enforcement experience.
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Edison Township will soon administer rigorous exams for sergeants, lieutenants, and captains
to ensure that qualified supervisors are available as retirements occur over the next two years.

NEW STREET CRIMES UNIT

In January, Police Chief Tom Bryan launched the Police Department’s newest initiative: A
specialized “Street Crimes Unit.”

This flexible, proactive “Street Crimes Unit” will identify and target emerging activities that
adversely affect the “quality of life” across our community.

Working with the police departments Criminal Investigation Bureau and Patrol Bureau, this
new unit will help identify criminal trends; conduct surveillance and sting operations; and
assist other police units with criminal apprehensions.

Our police department also prescribes to the community policing philosophy that each and
every officer adopts, which is a most valuable function to develop positive working
relationships with our residents; with businesses and neighborhood groups; to attend
community meetings and offer constructive feedback about how to make our community safe
and secure.

SCHOOL SAFETY

In light of so many nationwide incidents of school violence, our Police Department and my
Administration are working closely with the Board of Education to provide additional security
against these dangers.

We are helping our School Board fulfill their plan to hire retired, qualified police officers –
known as Class III Special Law Enforcement Officers augmented with our Sworn Officers - as
security in our public schools.

Our Police Department has drafted a training curriculum for these former sworn officers; It has
purchased necessary equipment, and a cost efficient mutually beneficial inter – local
agreement has been drafted. Our Police department stands ready to implement this initiative
to protect our children once we finalize this agreement.

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OTHER LAW ENFORCEMENT INITIATIVES

Over 140 GPS devices are being installed in police vehicles, similar to those in other Township –
owned vehicles to ensure officer safety and accountability.

Safety upgrades and aesthetic improvements have been made to our Police Departments firing
range. This is where Edison Officers complete mandated use of force training to enhance their
skills.

Our Police SWAT Team’s training, tactical uniforms, helmets, ballistic vests, weaponry and
communications equipment have been upgraded to enhance performance and safety. This has
been accomplished utilizing asset forfeiture funds so as not to pass the burden onto the tax
payers.

We are also continuing our bulletproof vest replacement program with the purchase of 49 new
body armor vests to help ensure our officer’s safety.

FIRE DEPARTMENT
I am proud to say — to safeguard our residents and businesses – our Division of Fire has
recently completed replacing its entire fleet of outdated vehicles and apparatus.
Our firefighters now answer emergencies with state-of-the-art vehicles and equipment, giving
them the appropriate tools, to protect our citizenry.
Acquisition of 2 new fire pumpers; and breathing apparatus for each firefighter now completes
our equipment turnover.
Investing in Edison’s public safety will continue to be a top priority.

PUBIC WORKS DEPT.


Our Department of Public Works continues to provide a broad menu of services.
I am grateful for DPW’s efficient sanitation and recycling pickups; its road maintenance; and its
wintertime plowing and sanding services.

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Also, our Public Work employees are making long-overdue enhancements to firehouses
throughout Edison.

OUR PARTNERSHIPS
Since 2014, my Administration has forged valuable partnerships throughout the Edison
community. Each has proven to be beneficial:
 Some help Edison to save tax dollars.
 Others offer a cost-effective way to do business.
 And, some enhance our town’s “curb appeal,” making Edison an attractive destination
for new commercial and corporate investors.
Let me take a few minutes to highlight some of our partnerships:
 The Edison Arts Society — under the direction of Gloria Dittman, the arts society
continues to enhance art and culture in its many forms throughout our town.
Besides the rotating art exhibits on the third floor of the Edison Municipal Complex, our
Arts Society planted the seeds in 2018 for a captivating new Sculpture Garden at Lake
Pappianni Park.
And plans are under way to expand the Society’s gallery to the second-floor of Town Hall
— It’s another reason everyone here tonight and watching at home should be sure to
visit the Municipal Complex.
 The Edison Memorial Tower Corp. — which manages our most historic tourism
destination — is kicking off a campaign to expand its museum and create space for
seminars and historic presentations.
We proudly encourage and support this marvelous endeavor headed up by Edison
Memorial Tower Museum director Kathleen Carluccci.
 The Edison Sheltered Workshop — a cornerstone of our community since 1979 — now
has a new home at 48 Ethel Road. With Edison Township’s support and cooperation of
Executive Director Michael Shaffery, this marvelous facility continues to provide
vocational services and social skill-supports to people with disabilities.

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 The Edison Housing Authority has become a valuable partner in our effort to provide a
10-week mentorship program for at-risk middle school students. Working together, with
Michael Campbell and Deborah Hurley, we provided students with tutoring, counseling,
and an introduction to career options in technology and drama. We also received
tremendous support from many private businesses which made this pilot program a
success.

MUNICIPAL HIGHLIGHTS
Let’s take a quick look at some of 2018’s most significant highlights:
 Edison is continuing its street resurfacing program — completing over 228 streets
between 2014 and 2018. This year, we have allocated $6 million to refurbish more
neighborhood streets.
 In 2018, Edison Township’s ratable base saw a historic increase of $63 million, a good
indication of our increasingly healthy local economy.
 Edison will be renovating eight playgrounds in town. A grant from Middlesex County will
provide ½ the cost for this major project.
 Edison closed Stelton Community Center in October. I wish to thank the Board of
Education for helping to relocate most programming to Thomas Jefferson Middle School
during this transition period.
 The Edison Animal Shelter continues to provide exemplary community service.
Adoptions increased significantly in 2018 and our facility has undergone a major kennel
renovation.
 The Edison Public Library system is celebrating its 90th Anniversary this year. Library
Director Jane Jiang, appointed by the library board, has a variety of tremendous
programs planned throughout the year.

GRANTS
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My Administration continues to successfully pursue grant funding — a vital resource to help
enhance our community without burdening our taxpayers. Our Resource Development Officer,
Chris Maszauskas has contributed greatly to our being awarded the following grants…
— In 2018, our two largest grants $625,000 from the State Department of Transportation for
the Lindquist Avenue repaving project and $350,000 from Middlesex County for the
playground renovation project I mentioned earlier.
— In 2018, Edison obtained a $269,000 recycling grant from the state Department of
Environmental Protection based on increases in our recycling tonage. This is thanks to our
conscientious residents, who are recycling more, and DPW crews.
— Town Hall leveraged its resources to assist with grant acquisitions to benefit the Edison Arts
Society and the Edison Memorial Tower.
— This year, we will re-establish the popular former “Mr. Fix It” program — to now be called
“Edison Fix-It” — that will again provide household repairs and maintenance to qualified senior
citizens and for residents with disabilities.
— Also this year, Edison is pursuing a state Green Acres grant to create turfed multi- purposes
playing fields at Camp Kilmer.
-Two new franchises will be part of the Hartz Mountain Development off of Rt. 1, IFLY and LA
Fitness. Negotiations are underway for the next exciting projects that will be part of this
project. So stay tuned!

WATER & SEWER PARTNERSHIP


One of my Administration’s most significant achievements has been the negotiation of a
financial beneficial new public-private partnership to manage and maintain Edison Township’s
water and sewer systems.
As you may know, the Township has contracted with American Water Co. since 1996 to operate
and manage its water system, which serves a portion of our community.
And, Edison has operated its own municipal sewer utility, serving our entire town.

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We now plan to enter a long-term lease agreement with Suez North America, a Paramus-based
water and wastewater company. This agreement will allow Edison to retain ownership of these
systems, but also provide significant financial benefits for our community.
This long-term lease will have Suez operating these systems and — more importantly – relieve
the Township of the financial burden of funding capital to these aging systems.
Suez — a company with the technical experience and expertise that now serves 1.5 million
people across New Jersey — will manage, maintain and make all necessary improvements to
our water and sewer systems.
This partnership agreement is, of course, contingent upon a local public hearing and it will
require approvals from Edison Town Council, the state Department of Community Affairs, the
Department of Environmental Protection and the Board of Public Utilities.
Suez has agreed to make unprecedented and sorely needed capital improvements to our water
and wastewater systems. And there are other significant benefits for Edison:
 Provide improved service to our residential and business customers.
 Provide necessary investments for infrastructure improvements
 Total value of transaction over 40 years inclusive of investments to infrastructure will be
$811,344,330.00.
 Provides the Township with a sizable “upfront payment” ($100 million) that the
Township will use to retire its existing debt and utilize a small portion for the design,
development and construction of a new municipal Community Center.
 Rate protection and keeping the senior freeze intact were important elements that have
been negotiated into the agreement.

NEW COMMUNITY CENTER

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Charting Edison’s path into the future includes building a new state-of-the-art and sustainably
designed Community Center.
Details about our new Community Center are not final. Edison hosted three hearings to solicit
valuable public input and we are in the design phase of this dynamic project.
I can – with some certainly – report that our new Community Center will be about 100,000-
square-foot, flexibly-designed facility on 7.5 acres at Edison Towne Square on Route 1 near
Vineyard Road, otherwise known as the Hartz Mountain property. We are also in the process
of finalizing an architectural firm for the project.
Our vision is for the new Edison Community Center’s property to connect with nearby Thomas
H. Paterniti Park, which will be refurbished and enhanced as part of this overall project.

CLOSING COMMENTS
In closing — let me remind you that my State of the Township Address is merely a snapshot of
Edison Town Hall’s many recent milestones. It is a just brief glimpse at Edison Township’s bright
future.
It is difficult – in this snapshot – to convey the many meetings; the long hours of planning, the
discussions and deliberations behind each of our successful accomplishments.
It is equally difficult for me to convey my gratitude to my Administrative team and staff for
their leadership and hard work; to each of Township director and their staffs, who provide
guidance, support and insight into our community.
I wish to thank each Township employee – who make the Township’s many achievements
possible; who do their jobs with pride and professionalism; with grace and integrity.
Their dedication makes Edison Township one of New Jersey’s best places to live, work, raise a
family and grow older with dignity.
When I was sworn into office on January 1, 2014, I stated that our crumbling infrastructure,
stagnant financial position and outdated processes were our greatest challenge. I said we
needed to address these in a deliberate fashion so the results would be sustainable.
I went to see Springsteen On Broadway in November of 2018. He stated that our future was
not written yet, but that we had a blank page in front of us, daring to be written on.

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Well, we have started to write on these pages! We have started to write our future!

Working together, we have overcome challenges to achieve amazing milestones.


As I said earlier — Edison will continue to chart a path into the future.
Sure, there may be challenges. Certainly, there will be hurdles to conquer.
But, working together, we can overcome any obstacle.
Working together — we can ensure that Edison Township continues to embrace diversity; to be
open and inclusive; to be resourceful, accessible and forward thinking.
We have a limited amount of time to do our work. Once we reach adulthood, that clock starts
to tick. As elected officials, we have a second clock that ticks away. Like the first clock, we
never know when time runs out. So let's get to work, lets make sure we don't have any regrets
of what we want to accomplish. Let's not leave anything in the tank. Let's begin by charting
our future
As we chart this course for the future, I would like to paraphrase. A quote from
"who else?" Bruce Springsteen which sums up my personal philosophy on leadership:
“I’m interested in what it means to be an American. I’m interested in what it means to live in
Edison. I’m interested in the kind of community we live in and leave our kids. I’m interested in
continuing to define what our community is and can become.

Lets get it Done! The town we hold in our hearts is waiting!


Thank you for being here tonight and thank you for all you have done and will do!

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