2018 State of the City

Reverend Clergy, Members of the City Council, Elected Officials, Members of the Elizabeth Board of Education, friends and residents:

Our neighborhoods - full of:

  • Opportunities
  • Rich history
  • Talent, determination

 

State-of-the-art facilities - made better by inspired investments from our residents, partners and businesses Our communities – stronger through:

  • Diversity
  • Revitalization
  • Enhancements - uplifted by those, who care to make a difference and those who want to be the difference Our municipality – an exciting destination  New housing 
  • Developments and expansions
  • Specialty shops, fine dining
  • Recognized by a major cruise line– embracing the remarkable people, places and achievements that make our city:

 

  • Notable
  • Accomplished
  • And a location with endless possibilities 

This is Elizabeth, this is our home – stronger than ever and ready to embrace the future. And like many of you, I grew up in this city – although the neighborhoods of our past looked very different from today. 

Blighted structures have been replaced by beautiful townhouses, tree-lined streets, recreational areas.  What were once vacant lots and underutilized parcels, are now home to new construction, thriving businesses. 

Our former municipal landfill is now a successful mall, which draws more than 15 million visitors from around the world each year.

Realizing the potential of what could be, these initiatives have transformed once dormant spaces into energized, active places.  

The opportunities that are being created throughout our community are:

  • Increasing jobs
  • Enhancing our competitiveness
  • Strengthening our economic position 

Moody’s Investors Service has once again recognized our:

  • Innovation
  • Focused initiatives 
  • And stable projects by providing a Aa3 bond rating

In addition, within a benchmarking study, designed for New Jersey’s largest cities:

  • The City of Elizabeth was recognized by CivicPro
  • For having the lowest workers’ compensation rate for all municipalities 

Supporting these acknowledgements are strategic planning and projects that are changing landscapes - including locations that hold significance to many of you -  and have become synonymous with Elizabeth. 

Demolition of the former Elizabeth General site, where generations of residents were born, will be completed in the next few months, followed by the construction of:

  • 267 market rate units 
  • 15,000 square feet of retail

The Hersch Tower, a striking and noteworthy structure, underutilized for years, will be home to:

  • 90 market-rate units 
  • 10,000 square feet of retail
  • And other amenities - under a redevelopment plan currently being formed

New construction makes our neighborhoods better by:

  • Elevating our regional marketability 
  • Creating options for individuals looking to re-locate to our community 
  • As well as alternatives for existing residents seeking to upgrade or expand

And even more initiatives are on the horizon:

  • Work has begun on 87 units and 8,000 square feet of retail in Midtown
  • Phase I of the East Broad Street Redevelopment Plan:
  • Demolition began last month  o 45 market rate units 
  • On the site of an abandoned warehouse at Madison and Chestnut 

             

  • Phase II of that Plan calls for:
    • 300 more market rate units
    • Constructed at the former Coin Depot location
    • This project will be submitted to the Planning Board for approval later this year

Our community is strengthened by these developments along with the attraction and retention of businesses, which:

  • Support the local economy
  • Provide additional services 
  • And increase the number of jobs here at home

Preparations are being made to grow operations and continue success:

  • Allied Beverage is building a 540,400 square foot warehouse 

Redevelopment efforts are also being spearheaded by the Housing Authority with:

  • $1.8-million-dollar window replacement project at Mravlag Manor
  • New units on Third Street and First Street
  • Along with special needs housing, allocated to the homeless

Working with Shaping Elizabeth, better neighborhoods, stronger communities are being supported through:

  • The Next Generation Community Leader Grant
  • Engaging youth, building skills and becoming leaders

When collaboration and experience create an inspired vision, expectations are surpassed and possibilities become endless. The Mills at Jersey Gardens is one of the best examples of that transformation within our city.  

In addition to hosting the Workforce Innovation Business Center, which has:

  • Trained 74 individuals
  • Placed 300 in jobs 
  • And serviced over 1800 residents 

Our mall continues to enjoy success, from early in the morning to late at night.       

From car and foot traffic to busses and tours, shoppers are finding quality merchandise and great deals at: 

  • Coach Factory
  • Michael Kors
  • Kate Spade

Recognized for its success and exciting potential, The Mills is a shining example of the reality that can be created, when something that once seemed impossible, is realized as an impressive development with continual growth.

With the increasing popularity of purchasing items online, shopping local is more important than ever.  Choosing to buy in Elizabeth supports:

  • Our businesses
  • Our neighbors
  • Our community

The Elizabeth Avenue Partnership continues to attract new stores, services and restaurants - making this Special Improvement District a prime location for residents and visitors:

  • Velvet Café
  • La Tostano Restaurant

Providing a safe and aesthetically-pleasing shopping experience, also encourages patrons to return, which creates loyal customers and contributes to our economy. Acknowledging the importance of these factors, the Partnership:

  • Continued the Ambassador Segway Program
  • Added efficient hydroponic watering system and Waterwell inserts –extending flower life and vibrancy
  • And worked with the Elizabeth Public Schools to create an inspired, downtown art exhibit 

Through this business and educational partnership, life-size wooden soldiers were designed by students and placed at Union Square during the holidays – showcasing:  Talent

  • Artistry
  • Creativity 

Sponsoring exciting events and improving businesses, our Midtown Special Improvement District continues to enhance our shops block by block and attract individuals from near and far:

  • Annual car and bike show
  • New stores – Little Caesars, Prestige Cruz Auto Leasing 

With experience and leadership – the Greater Elizabeth Chamber of Commerce is committed to promoting and improving the business environment. Along with a 20% growth in membership, the Chamber continues to encourage, support and sponsor events, which highlight industry success and the best our city has to offer:

  • Business After Hours 
  • Employers Legislative Committee
  • Union County Means Business

From job creation and revenue generation to increasing access to resources, these investments are making our neighborhoods better – our communities stronger.

Trinitas Regional Medical Center remains at the forefront of:

  • Innovation
  • Technology
  • Treatment

With:

  • Completion of the new Emergency Department
  • 45 Treatment Rooms
  • 4 Intensive Care Unit Beds – increasing ability to care for those in need

Many factors can influence the health and successful treatment of disease and illness, including:

  • Nutrition 
  • And maintaining a healthy weight

Building on this premise, Trinitas is participating in an important study:

  • Investigating the impact of weight loss on breast cancer recurrence 
  • Sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology
  • New and improved services 
  • Life-saving screenings – can make all the difference

Later this year, the $3.2 million dollar Connie Dwyer Breast Center:

  • With knowledgeable and compassionate professionals   Using advanced technology to provide quality care

So whether we are talking about:

  • Making notable discoveries
  • Reaching personal goals 
  • Or being a catalyst for change 

The achievement of great things can be a part of anyone’s future, with:

  • Support and nurturing
  • Care and encouragement
  • Mentorship and leadership

The Office on Aging is keeping our senior citizens informed, aware and prepared to remain active members of our community:

  • Senior Safety Day in coordination with Lifelong Elizabeth
  • Wellness and Fitness Day with the YMCA
  • Partnership with the Elizabeth Board of Education – Where Seniors served as models for the Edison Academy Cosmetology students
  • Generations working together to accomplish goals and create experiences that will last a lifetime

Maintaining wellness and protecting against illness makes our community stronger:

  • Nearly 1000 immunized          
  • 425 Flu shots administered
  • Lead screenings for children 6 months to 6 years’ old

Reinforcing education and honing abilities to identify positive alternatives and make sound decisions, the Office of Youth is providing aid, leadership and guidance through:

  • SOAR
  • Safe Haven
  • Building Future Leaders Programs

Featuring:

  • Breast Cancer awareness walk            
  • Math Night and Spelling Bee 
  • C.O.D.E. Youth – With 215 young people participating at Miller Evans Logan and Erxleben Centers

Through their scholarships and assistance initiatives, the Rotary Club of Elizabeth is transforming lives.  Celebrating its 100th year, members continue to provide leadership:

  • Embracing the opportunity to serve 
  • With high ethical standards

From school and family obligations to job and community responsibilities, young people today face many demands with limited time. 

Stress, along with the pressure of fitting everything into only a few hours, often means eating when you can and putting off exercise. 

The lack of proper nutrition and daily physical activity are factors, which are adding to the growing number of youth obesity cases seen each year across our nation. 

Supporting good health and wellness increases the quality of life for the individual as well as contributes to better neighborhoods and stronger communities.  The efforts of the Recreation Department are providing the resources to achieve these goals:

  • Improved facilities
  • Revitalized fields
  • Sports and food services

With:

  • 2 Splash Parks, 7 Spray Fountains
  • 18 Playgrounds, 5 day camps
  • And 1500 children were provided free lunches and snacks every day during July and August

More than 300 hundred participated in the third annual Playball USA event at Hanratty Field held in conjunction with:

  • Major League Baseball
  • U.S. Conference of Mayors
  • Teaching new skills
  • Showcasing talent
  • Encouraging sportsmanship, teamwork          

Like baseball, soccer continues to increase in popularity and Kenah Playground now has:

  • Two new synthetic turf fields 
  • Along with a Tee Ball Field 

More exciting renovations and additional opportunities will take place later this year at:

  • Miller Playground 
  • Green Acres, Carteret Park 
  • New bathrooms, lighting and parking lot at Erxleben Center

Keeping active increases energy levels, makes us feel better - supporting productivity, helping us move through each day more effectively. The Division of Engineering is committed to improving our mobility, with:

  • Infrastructure enhancements
  • Traffic flow upgrades
  • Restoration efforts

As a historic municipality, much of our sewer system was installed more than a century ago.  However, as progress advanced, population increased - the demands associated with additional people and development:

  • Rendered the existing infrastructure antiquated 
  • And inefficient to meet our current needs

So throughout the years, chronic street flooding has impacted area residents, businesses and motorists - causing traffic disruptions. 

With the Trumbull Street Flood Control Project:

  • Construction of a new stormwater control system and improved streetscape at Trumbull and Sixth Street
  • Incorporation of a new rain garden and green space 

Scheduled to be completed later this year, this initiative will significantly reduce flooding.  

During severe weather events, the ability to control the flow of water, particularly at major intersections, is vital to maintaining operations. Additional sites are being modified to support this effort including Progress Street:

  • An express sewer
  • Storage conduits
  • New pipes and manholes 

Construction is 90% complete.

Whether your commute is minutes or hours, the time spent getting to where you need to be is precious and the city, along with its partners, are doing our part to make it:

  • Safer
  • More comfortable

In addition to expanding its Pay by Phone feature and administering:

  • 38 meter boxes
  • 1500 street spaces
  • Along with 3000 spots in garages

The Parking Authority has acquired the necessary funding to take control of the Midtown Garage.  Later this year, that location will include:

  • A bicycle depot
  • Providing safer storage

And the Parking Authority’s retail building, located at 17 Caldwell Place, will soon be leased:

  • Obtained commitment of 2 floors for office space
  • Marking their first real estate venture 

Increasing services and opportunities, all parking lots have been resurfaced and include:  New signage

  • Reflective striping

More than five miles of roadway have also been milled and paved throughout our neighborhoods, including portions of:

  • Dickinson and Dehart
  • Julia and Third
  • South Street and Union Avenue

Further implementing measures to support the ease of transportation within our neighborhoods, a new traffic light system is now operational at Elizabeth Avenue and Jaques Street.  

From securing the integrity and function of our roads to preserving our environment, the Public Works Department is:

  • Increasing natural resources
  • Beautifying landscapes
  • Renewing neighborhood appearances

By:                     

  • Planting 150 trees through the Greener Union County Grant
  • Trimming and Maintaining 354 trees citywide
  • More than 3400 hours dedicated to removing debris and litter through Clean Communities program

The possibilities of what our green spaces can become is endless. Working in coordination with local partners, such as Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, the County of Union and Groundwork Elizabeth, underutilized land is being transformed into food-producing locations: 

  • Urban gardens thriving behind the Elmora Library, Mravlag Manor, public schools
  • Along with an additional 100 growing containers and 5 large bee units at the Library

Local residents, who adopt the garden beds, are responsible for their maintenance and care. Vegetables grown from the beds, which have not been adopted, are donated to food banks or provided to area restaurants. 

Home-grown and community-consumed, this initiative is:  Increasing access to fresh vegetables

  • Reducing food costs for participating individuals
  • Improving stewardship within our community

Safeguarding our municipality and regional environment for generations to come, Future City continues to be a champion for securing our:

  • Estuary
  • Waterways
  • Ecosystem 

Making a difference through:

  • Educational workshops
  • Informative materials
  • Environmental Day

Learning and exploration are vital as we build stronger communities. The Elizabeth Public Library remains a destination of choice to:

  • Gain knowledge
  • Raise awareness

With:

  • Book Discussion Groups
  • Technology workshops
  • Classes and events

Whether visiting the library:

  • On your lunch hour
  • After work or after school 
  • Or on the weekend - residents and visitors continue to participate in programs and utilize the diverse resources

The road to success is built with a strong foundation, made more resilient with:

  • Assistance
  • And support – enabling individuals to thrive in a more secure environment

 With:

  • Dedicated response
  • State-of-the-art technology
  • Crime-reducing initiatives - the Elizabeth Police Department continues to increase safety and strengthen community partnerships. 

Effective communication and working closely with residents to develop comprehensive approaches, can transform neighborhoods.  The presence of law enforcement along with positive interactions, solidifies these relationships.  

Advances in the identification and documentation of activity, including:

  • License plate readers 
  • Body cameras
  • Social media – make significant differences within our city.

And later this month - 22 new officers will be hired. These individuals will also be trained with the latest:  Conflict resolution techniques

  • Strategies and equipment 
  • To safeguard our residents, our police force and our home

These:

  • Prevention
  • Preparedness
  • And protective measures - are all vital and enable individuals to be ready in the event of any emergency - particularly one that involves a fire.

The Elizabeth Fire Department responded to:

  • More than 20,000 incidents in 2017
  • Including 255 structure fires
  • And nearly 15,000 emergency medical responses along with extrication incidents

The Elizabeth Fire Department is doing its part to ensure residents have:

  • The knowledge
  • Skill Set
  • Resources – to stay secure at every age

By:

  • Holding 42 fire safety events in our schools
  • Completing 657 life hazard inspections
  • Inspecting 818 smoke detectors 

And when a call requesting assistance comes in:

  • Information is quickly dispatched 
  • And response efforts are activated

Having the exact address and the details of an event upon approach, provides first responders with potentially life-saving data. 

Having the ability to receive, live, up-to-date information as it occurs at incidents - especially rapid-changing ones -   facilitates the assignment of personnel and specialty equipment. This ensures the scene is brought under control quickly and the most positive outcomes are achieved.  

Monitors were recently installed in all firehouses, providing:

  • Vehicle status
  • Immediate access to notifications – increasing efficiency of department operations 

Maximizing firefighting abilities and performing with excellence requires:

  • Training
  • Experience
  • And equipment that enhances safety and supports lifesaving activities

Upon completion of testing, the Fire Department will begin the process of replacing current Self Contained Breathing Apparatus with new, state-of-the-art versions:

  • Integrated PASS devices
  • Individual cylinder and harness
  • Assisting in response, protection and  well-being  

And this month, the Fire Department will welcome an additional 20 firefighters -further securing our neighborhoods and our community. 

President Abraham Lincoln once said, “The best thing about the future, is that it comes one day at a time.” 

Within the City of Elizabeth, each of those days are filled with more possibilities than the previous – as we reimagine the magnitude and potential of our:

  • Proximity to the region
  • Amenities and attractions
  • Talent and diversity – solidifying our municipality as a tourism force and global destination

It all begins with:

  • Identifying needs
  • Attracting a consumer base 
  • And meeting demands of current and future audiences

Vacationers are a great place to start.  They are looking to:

  • Escape the daily routine
  • Relax with relatives and loved ones 
  • As well as have opportunities to explore different places, meet new people

When planning a trip, most people have certain criteria:

  • Visit historic sites
  • Sample local cuisine
  • Take a guided tour 
  • Do some shopping 
  • Enjoy entertainment

With:

  • A rich and inspired past
  • Exciting economic developments
  • Thriving stores and multicultural restaurants – our community meets everything on that checklist and much more 

Working in conjunction with:

  • Go ElizabethNJ 
  • And partners

The Elizabeth Destination Marketing Organization continues to:  Promote Elizabeth attractions

  • Elevate regional, national and worldwide recognition
  • Secure major contracts – bringing internationally-respected entities and new tourism to our city

Including:

  • Royal Caribbean Cruise Line - Elizabeth Excursion
  • Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society events at:
    • Liberty Hall Museum o Boxwood Hall 
    • The Snyder Academy of Elizabethtown

And now, Avianca Airlines is offering flights, 5 times a week, from Newark Liberty International Airport to El Salvador with Latin American connections, including:

  • Guatemala City, San Jose
  • Panama City, Quito
  • Lima, Bogota and Cali

Residents and travelers looking for:

  • Some time away
  • Or a visit with friends and family - can now enjoy additional options and services - just minutes away        

Accessible by air, sea, road and rail - tourism and travel initiatives:

  • Make our neighborhoods better 
  • Make our community stronger 
  • Make our city more marketable – creating endless possibilities 

Down every street, around every corner:

  • New housing and stores are replacing underutilized areas
  • Professional-grade and innovative open spaces are increasing options
  • Additional public safety personnel and equipment– are ready for response and the protection of our residents

Our community is stronger: 

  • When innovative vision meets leadership and resources 
  • When hardworking, dedicated and inspired individuals meet:
    • Neighborhoods that are not defined by boundaries o A community that is united by more than a name o A municipality that:
      • Expands and reinvents
      • Embraces new ventures
      • Elevates and succeeds – making the possibilities for greatness within our city limitless

May God Bless the City of Elizabeth and May God Bless the United States of America.

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