Marotta outlines Vernon's future

| 11 Feb 2014 | 05:29

VERNON — With the issue of his recent salary request put aside while petitions are gathering signatures before the next week deadline, Mayor Victor Marotta provided a summary of the township's achievements in 2013 and discussed his plans for making 2014 productive in his annual State of the Township address.

He began by addressing the undermanning of the Department of Public Works, explaining that five of the 24 plowing trucks are out of commission, two permanently. He said wants to see an increase in equipment, as well as an increase in personnel in 2014 to better prepare the township for snow storms.

As for Vernon’s accomplishments, Marotta discussed the completed construction projects, particularly the new basketball courts at Maple Grange Park, and spoke of proposed projects for 2014, including repairs on Breakneck Road and Lake Wallkill Road.

Marotta said that the town was the recipient of six grants including the Drive Sober Grant, Clean Communities Grant, Municipal Alliance Grant, State Body Armor Grant, Firefighters’ Assistance Grant, and the No Net Loss Grant. These grants totaled $458,105.12 in revenue for the town.

A notable increase to the No Net Loss Grant from $30,642 to $354,960 in 2014 will allow continued reforestation of the areas affected by the Tennessee Gas Pipeline. Marotta notes that none of this is tax money but advised there will be a slight tax increase in 2014. The budget still has not yet been completed.

In addition to these six grants, Marotta said that the township has been approved for a $40,000 grant from the N.J. Highlands Council, which involves the feasibility of completing a transfer of development rights for the township.

He continued to explain that this grant will help attract businesses to Vernon, particularly the town center, in order to boost the economy.

Vernon’s economic development was the main theme of Marotta’s address. In addition to the Highlands Council grant, he highlighted several other projects that aim to attract business to the town.

“This council adopted a new zoning law ordinance that added design standards for the C-2 zones in Vernon and the Town Center, making the five mini-zones that were once the center go away, and making it much easier for business people interested in locating in the Town Center to achieve that,” Marotta explained.

The Mayor also is looking to bring water to every place in the township that has access to sewer.

“The most important link in the development of our town center is the lack of central water. Many of the corporations planning on building there have put their plans on hold until this issue is resolved,” Marotta said.

He explained that plans for United Water to “bring their water system up to specification and have enough water” have failed and meetings are underway for March to rectify the situation and allow progress on the Town Center.

In addition to discussing Vernon’s economic future, the Mayor reminded residents of the reorganization of the town’s Police Department upon the former police Chief Roy Wherry's retirement. The town has been waiting more than a year and a half for the certification of the civil service list for sergeants, positions which the town desperately needs to fill.

The police department has received, and will receive more, updated and improved equipment and vehicles, as well as an increase in diversity. The town now has its first female patrol officer in a decade and the first African-American and Hispanic officers in Vernon’s history. These men are both experienced former Paterson officers who are “working diligently to make an impact on the scourge of heroin sweeping the country and affecting Vernon Township,” Marotta said.

Marotta said he is proud of the township’s progress in 2013 and optimistic about 2014.

"We have some really heavy lifting to do this year," Marotta said.