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Mayor Hemphill 2024 Address


Mayor’s Address – Jan 9, 2024


Happy New Year! As 2024 begins, I again want to thank EVERY Volunteer and EVERY Employee, all of whom have worked so hard to make Rumson the special community it is. I especially want to thank the Rumson Police Department, the Rumson Fire Department, the Rumson First Aid Squad and the Rumson Department of Public Works for their hard work, untiring dedication, and, most importantly, for the risks they take every day to protect the quality of life we cherish in Rumson. I am sincerely hopeful that 2024 is an even better year, starting with peace and good health for everyone.


And now, the following is a report of The Borough events and activities of 2023 and a brief look forward to the New Year and 2024.


The Borough Council


The Borough Council members have met the year’s challenges with diplomacy and with the dignity that would be expected from such an experienced group. I applaud each of you for the contributions you have made on behalf of all the residents of Rumson, and I extend my heartfelt thanks for your support and assistance throughout the past year.

In November, first-time Councilmember Linda Smith and returning Councilmember Gary Casazza were each elected to a three year Council term. On behalf of all Council members, it is our honor and privilege to serve our community as your volunteer elected representatives.

That said, as we welcome a new member to the group, we unfortunately are saying goodbye to another. On behalf of the entire Borough Council, I want to thank Robert Swikart for his years of service on Borough Council and the many different committees he volunteered for during his tenure. While we will miss working with you we hope to see you at future meetings and community events.


Major Community Events


Rumson is a small, close-knit town with a big heart and a lot of spirit. Each year, there are numerous community events that bring our residents together for fun and, often, to benefit a good cause. Some are sponsored by The Borough and others by independent entities, but all add to the feeling of community and togetherness long enjoyed by our residents. The partnership with our local school district grows stronger each year and we enjoy including our students in Borough events. If you have never attended, or if it has been a while since you came out to a community event, we encourage you to join us in 2024.


Rumson EMS


The Rumson First Aid Squad has dozens of volunteer members, many of whom have completed the rigorous 250-hour Emergency Medical Technician course. In 2023, the Squad responded to over 300 calls in Rumson and assisted in neighboring communities. The residents of Rumson should take pride and comfort in knowing their First Aid Squad is ready, 24-hours per day, to respond to every type of medical emergency. We want to thank Captain Elze-Ann (Ella) Holtzhausen for her service to our residents. We also wish to thank all of the volunteer officers and membership that continue to support our Volunteer First Aid Squad.


Rumson Fire Department


The Rumson Fire Department responded to approximately 280 fire calls in The Borough and in surrounding towns this past year. The Department is staffed solely by trained volunteer members. The Department was ably led by Fire Chief Michael Trivett and Assistant Fire Chief Robert Eyerkuss. We also wish to thank all of the volunteer officers and members that continue to support our Volunteer Fire Department. Volunteers are always needed for both EMS and the Fire Department and Borough residents are encouraged to apply and learn about how they can assist with the Borough’s First Aid and Fire Protection.

 

Rumson Police Department


The Rumson Police Department is available 24 hours a day 365 days a year to serve the residents of the Borough of Rumson. All officers of the Rumson Police Department each complete approximately 100 hours of training, annually, to sharpen their skills and stay up-to-date on the latest law enforcement tactics.


I want to begin by thanking Chief Jeffrey Nixon. Jeff took over as Rumson Police Chief in July 2023 following a year of acting as Officer in Charge. Jeff retired at the end of October. On behalf of the Rumson Borough Council, we thank Jeff for his years of dedication and service to the residents of Rumson. And to the officers of the Rumson police Department: Thank You. In a year that has presented new challenges and dangers, you answered each and every call with professionalism. To support the efforts of our police department in keeping The Borough the safe place we all have come to love we wish to again remind our residents to remove your car keys and to lock your cars.


Department of Public Works


The Department of Public Works does a fantastic job keeping our streets clear, our sewers flowing and our parks looking their best. They handle all kinds of work in all sorts of weather conditions. The team works hard year-round to address all different types of issues helping to keep Rumson looking its best.


The Borough’s often forgotten, but vital sanitary sewer system, requires around the clock care, service and maintenance. The Borough has approximately 75 miles of sewer pipe that sends household sewage to one of the eleven pumping stations in the Borough and then eventually to Monmouth Beach, where approximately 550 million gallons of Rumson sewage is processed annually.


This past year, the Borough was forced to conduct emergency repairs to the main sanitary sewer line which carries sewage from Rumson under the Shrewsbury River into Sea Bright and eventually to the treatment plant in Monmouth Beach.  Repairs were swiftly and successfully executed to avoid interruption to sewer service and avoid serious environmental impact.  After careful evaluation of the failed pipe section, it was determined the existing pipe, installed in the mid-1960s, was beyond its useful service life and would need to be replaced. This accelerated The Borough’s originally palnned capital replacement project. The Borough advanced the pipe replacement on an emergency basis in close coordination with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.  I am happy to announce the new pipe system has been fully operational since November 28, 2023 and should serve our community for many years to come.


The Department of Public Works Toy Drive in early December was a great success. The Toy Drive brought in 585 toys, which were distributed to Family and Children’s Services and the Salvation Army in Red Bank and will benefit many local children in need. Thanks to everyone for your generous gifts, and to our Public Works employees who donated their time to help.


Finally, after 40 years of service to The Borough of Rumson, it is time to thank Mark Wellner for all that he has done for our community as he officially retires next month. The work Mark and his team have done over the years will impact our town for years to come. Mark has led our public works department through many difficult storms and emergencies over the years. Mark, we cannot thank you enough for your commitment to our community.


Parks & Recreation


Rumson Recreation, led by Charlie Hoffman, offers over 35 programs annually enjoyed by more than 3,500 residents of all ages. Activities include a variety of recreational youth sports and non-sports programming, summer camps, 43 as well as featured family events and holiday parades. We continue to look for new programming and for ways to improve our recreational processes.


Rumson Rec utilizes over 300 volunteer coaches each year and provides volunteer opportunities for local teens and seniors. The Council and I would like to thank all our Rec volunteers for their time and devotion to the benefit of our children and our community. We would also like to thank our parents and participants for their support.


Maintaining the highest quality parks and recreational spaces is a high priority for the Borough. As such, grass playing fields are periodically closed for rest and maintenance and DPW is regularly checking our facilities to ensure maximum safety.


The Borough is in the process of coordinating the replacement of play equipment at Rogers Park partially through charitable donations to The Harry J. Kegelman Memorial Fund via The Rumson Endowment Fund. We want to thank the many Kegelman family members and friends who have donated to the project. Construction activity should be starting soon, weather permitting and be complete for Spring 2024.


The Borough was also successfully awarded a grant from the Monmouth County Parks and Open Space Program for improvements to Meadowridge Park.  This project will expand the existing western parking lot to nearly double the available parking and greatly improve vehicular circulation and pedestrian safety.  The existing play and fitness equipment will also be replaced along with new and supplemental landscaping to update the park.


Construction & Engineering


The Borough of Rumson’s Construction and Engineering Offices are two of the best in Monmouth County. With the skilled full and part time staff, the Construction Office, led by Nick Fabiano, oversees all the building projects within our Borough as well as in Little Silver and Fair Haven through a multi-town shared service agreement.


The Borough’s Engineering Office designs and manages infrastructure projects such as roadway improvements, sidewalk and curb improvements, sanitary sewer and drainage upgrades and park projects. Engineer David Marks is also the Borough’s representative for many Monmouth County projects, including but not limited to, the Rumson – Sea Bright Bridge currently under construction and the future Oceanic Bridge Replacement.  Brett Hunger is our Project Manager to oversee borough construction projects and support our engineering initiatives and fulfil the roles of Code Enforcement Officer and Tree Conservation Officer. Having the Engineering Office as part of the Borough staff has significantly reduced the cost and reliance on outside consulting firms.


Infrastructure Improvements


The Borough is currently working to advance numerous infrastructure improvement projects in 2024. The television inspection, cleaning, and grouting of sanitary sewer pipe which was started in 2023 will advance into Phase II in 2024. The successful completion of the initial phase, which utilized Federal ARP Funding to fund nearly the entire project, helped reduce groundwater infiltration which results in reduced sewage treatment costs, less mechanical breakdowns, and overall lower operating costs.


The Borough has awarded a construction contract for Shrewsbury Drive Improvements – Phase II which will see much needed roadway, drainage, and flood resiliency improvements at the Shrewsbury Drive and Avenue of Two Rivers Intersection.  The project will consist of installing a new bulkhead, tide valve, drainage piping, and roadway improvements to reduce flooding frequency during moderate tide events.  This project is partially funded through a competitive grant awarded to the Borough by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.  Construction is anticipated in Spring 2024.


Additionally, the Borough will be advancing a Road Improvement Program to Bruce Place, West Street, and North Street which will consist of replacement curbs, sidewalks, and repaving.  This project is also partially funded through a competitive grant awarded to the Borough by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.  Construction is anticipated in Summer 2024.


Borough Staff & Commission Volunteer Updates


We appreciate our Borough’s municipal staff, including the Borough Hall Staff, Department of Public Works and Police Department, which all continue to provide the best and most courteous service to our residents. Our Borough employees provide the high level of services our residents expect, as they work within the budget and regulatory constraints set forth by the State of New Jersey.


Personally, I would like to extend a special thank you to the Chairs and Members of all the various Committees, Commissions and Boards. Each of these volunteers gives a considerable amount of time to reviewing issues that are important to our community. Their personal commitment and volunteerism is one of Rumson's most valuable assets and is greatly appreciated. Any resident interested in volunteering to help run our wonderful community should reach out at any time. We welcome your involvement.


Once again, our Police Department and our volunteer Fire Department and First Aid Squad are to be commended for their unconditional commitment to the safety and welfare of our residents, addressing every emergency with courtesy and respect. We appreciate your service, thank you all.


On behalf of all our Council Members and myself, I want to wish everyone a Happy, Healthy, and Peaceful New Year. May God Bless us all and God Bless America.

 

Sincerely, Joseph K. Hemphill Mayor

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