BORDENTOWN: Mayor back after 20 years

Mayor Joseph Malone has returned to the city helm after two decades away, and he is eager to get down to business.

By Amy Batista, Special Writer
   BORDENTOWN CITY — Mayor Joseph Malone has returned to the city helm after two decades away, and he is eager to get down to business.
   The mayor welcomed everyone to the June 10 City Commission meeting.
   ”I never ever thought I would be back in this spot after 20 years, but time does funny things, and things change,” Mr. Malone said.
   Resident Nancy Minnick said she is “thrilled” Mr. Malone has taken on the role of mayor again.
   ”I want to especially thank you for coming back for round two,” Ms. Minnick said.
   The city administration is a nonpartisan body that has three members, according to the clerk’s office. Last month, there was an uncontested election in which Mr. Malone won a four-year term. Former Mayor James Lynch Jr. will serve as deputy mayor, and City Commissioner Zigmont Targonski will continue to serve as commissioner.
   ”I am very excited and thrilled that we are such a blessed community to have three men of integrity, knowledge and experience to lead the way,” Ms. Minnick said. “It is a very exciting time to be here.”
   Mr. Malone started his new term as mayor at noon May 21. No stranger to politics, he served in the New Jersey General Assembly for the 30th legislative district from 1993 until 2012. Prior to that, he served as a Bordentown City commissioner.
   ”I truly am excited about being in office,” Mayor Malone said. “I think we are going to have a great four years. We are going to try to get things done.”
   The mayor said he is extremely pleased to be working with Deputy Mayor Lynch and Commissioner Targonski.
   Getting down to business, Mayor Malone reported that the city would bond for $427,500 to use for sidewalks and trees at City Hall. The commissioners unanimously passed the measure.
   ”We are doing this borrowing through the (Delaware River Joint Toll) Bridge Commission, which allows us to get an extremely low rate,” Mayor Malone said.
   According to Mayor Malone, the rate is 1.75 percent.
   The mayor reported the city has debt totaling $2.5 million, and the city’s water and sewer utility has debt totaling $6.5 million.
   During the meeting, the commissioners also unanimously authorized issuing estimated property tax bills.
   ”One of the reasons for this is we have not gotten final numbers from the county, and we have a situation in which we don’t have cash flow during this period of time,” the mayor said. “So we will be sending out estimated tax bills, and we hope, for the most part, after the reevaluation that most people should not see an increase and will, hopefully, see a slight decrease in the city portion of the tax. I cannot vouch for the county taxes, and I cannot vouch for the school taxes, but you should see a slight decrease in the amount you pay averaged out over the city.”
   The commissioners also passed two resolutions in conjunction with the city’s Green Team and Sustainable Jersey efforts and a resolution adopting “idle free zones.”
   ”This was also in support of Kathy (Shaw) and Cindy (Gallagher)’s efforts from the Green Team,” Mayor Malone said. “This requires that if you are utilizing cars or trucks or anything for the city and for people in general to turn your car off. I have been much more conscious after they brought it to my attention about turning my car off when I am some place.”
   The commission also introduced an ordinance to amend the city’s zoning ordinance regarding the compatibility of new and renovated properties.
   ”They must basically be compatible with surrounding buildings,” Mayor Malone said.
   A second reading and public hearing of the ordinance will be held July 8.
   The commission also formed a Housing and Code Enforcement Committee to address issues with properties in the city, according to Mayor Malone.
   ”I think that is something a number of people in town expressed an interest to all three of us about — getting a group of people to work together to with the newly-hired building official,” Mayor Malone said.
   According to the mayor, all the details of the committee will be worked out in the next month as the commissioners move forward.
   ”I think it’s important that we make a motion to form that this evening so that we show that we are very serious about this issue,” Mayor Malone said.
   The commissioners also formed a Neighborhood Redevelopment Committee, which is primarily geared toward the Park, Spring and Mary streets areas.
   ”We all know there have been some concerns regarding the development at the old shirt factory,” Mayor Malone said. “All three of us made the commitment to the people in the area that we would work with them in a collaborative effort toward how that whole area is redeveloped — Ocean Spray and the shirt factory and the old Modern Equipment.”
   According to Mayor Malone, this same motion would allow the commissioners to form other neighborhood committees.
   ”Our government is only as effective as the people we have working with us,” Mayor Malone said.
   The commissioners also formed a Policies and Procedures Committee after having “communication issues between various boards.” The committee will be a nondecision-making body.
   The Hill Top Park Committee was the last committee formed during the meeting.
   ”I have met a lot of very determined women, and Kelly (Grala) has expressed her determination to drive the bus, with us sitting in the back of the bus, to get the park done, and for that I have to give her a tremendous amount of respect,” Mayor Malone said.
   According to Mayor Malone, Ms. Grala has taken it upon herself to get a landscape architect out of Philadelphia to assist her with the project.
   ”It is only in the beginning stages,” Ms. Grala said, adding she invites “anyone to come out and give us your ideas and thoughts.”
   Ms. Grala is hoping to restore the park back to its natural beauty with the help of residents and is encouraging people to share how they would like to see the park used.
   ”Hopefully, we can make it a beautiful space that I know it has always been. It just needs a little TLC.” Ms. Grala said.
   The commissioners presented Ms. Grala with a picture of a postcard of the park from the turn of the century.
   ”Here is a picture of the park with nothing but lawn and benches and some area trees,” said Commissioner Targonski, who is also city director of Parks and Property,
   There will be a block party for all residents July 4 at the park, according to Ms. Grala.
   ”We are going to be reaching out more over the next two years to get people engaged,” Mayor Malone said. “We want people in town, and we want to do the right thing.”
   Mayor Malone ended the meeting by saying the commissioners are “not perfect.”
   ”We are not perfect, and the thing that I insist that you do is that you make us be better,” Mayor Malone said. “I mean that sincerely.”
   The next commission meeting will be held at 7 p.m. July 8 at the Carlslake Community Center, 324 Farnsworth Ave.