ELIZABETH, NJ—January 3, 2012— Mayor J. Christian Bollwage joined members of the City Council, elected officials, community representatives and residents of Elizabeth, as he delivered his State of the City Address during the annual re-organization meeting in Council Chambers.

Beginning with Elizabeth’s rich history, Mayor Bollwage discussed leading the way and embracing the City’s exciting future. From technology and green initiatives to cutting taxes and increasing services, he assured the audience that Elizabeth’s future is bright.

“We have developed strength in our community and an unstoppable energy that is fueled by an undeniable commitment to Our City and Our Future,” said Mayor Bollwage, “we will accept nothing less than the best - as we continue to put Elizabeth residents first.”

Grand openings were celebrated throughout the city in 2011, including twenty new businesses, the new Trinitas CORE building as well as green buildings such as the new 1500-space parking deck and the first LEED Gold Senior Affordable Housing complex. Jersey Gardens opened up several new stores and continues to welcome more than 15 million visitors each year. In addition, they are embarking on a $30 million renovation project, which includes both internal and external enhancements.

Elizabeth’s investments in public safety continue as many large municipalities throughout New Jersey had to lay off police officers and firefighters due to their inability to contain costs.  In the City of Elizabeth, there was not a single public safety worker laid off in 2011, in fact they are hiring 18 more this year.

Police Headquarters, went under a complete rennovation with the completion of a merged dispatch system, which will allow Police, Fire and EMS to increase operability. State-of-the-art advancements including surveillance cameras, Data Terminals, Facial Recognition Software as well as Mobile and Fixed License Plate Readers, were also highlighted. This equipment and technology provide police with the resources to obtain instant information that may be relevant to ongoing investigations, as well as enable a prompt and informed response by emergency personnel.

Firefighters need quality protective equipment they can rely on and with more than $2 million in federal grant funding; the Elizabeth Fire Department was able to invest in their vehicle fleet and updated gear. New additions include: heavy rescue and maritime response units, extrication equipment, Turn-out gear and personal rescue systems, which were issued to each member of the Department.  The roles of the Fire Department continue to expand, so this year Mayor Bollwage will hire 15 new firefighters, which will provide even more protection for residents.

One of the biggest themes of the address was unemployment. Across New Jersey and throughout our nation, individuals have lost their jobs and continue to endure month after month on unemployment. Elizabeth’s unemployment rate is among the lowest of New Jersey’s largest cities and Mayor Bollwage is looking to reduce that even more. 

In the upcoming months, a new initiative will be implemented that will place the employment of Elizabeth residents first and put people back to work. The new program entitled “ElizabethHIRES” (Helping to Invest in Residents through Employment and Support),” will hire Elizabeth residents for a designated period of time and assign them to public works jobs such as beautifying the City. ElizabethHIRES will also increase resident skills through on-the-job training and assist families with needed income for the future.

Mayor Bollwage has been vocal about proposed legislation and issues throughout our state that impact urban centers.  Speaking to the standing room only crowd that spilled into the hallway, the Mayor reiterated his commitment to the residents of Elizabeth, “we are not bystanders looking in, we do not sit back and watch to see what happens next, we stand up for what we believe in and what Our City deserves.”

Elizabeth has had a busy year and while the municipality continues to cut taxes and increase services, 2012 promises that the best is yet to come.