MY FIRST TERM
Two months into my first term on Common Council, a State of Emergency was declared because of the COVID-19 virus. Our lives were upended and in some cases, put on hold. Many people got sick and some died from the virus. Our collective mental health was an issue because we were in lockdown for what seemed like forever. It was a very unsettling time for our City, State, and Nation. But we did not let it derail the progress that we made on Council. Instead we pivoted because we knew it wasn’t going to be business as usual. Summit was one of the first communities to close down streets to allow for outdoor dining. We also added parklets for dining, express pickup parking spaces, and suspended all parking fees in Summit. These moves enabled our business community to not only survive but to emerge from the pandemic on an upward trajectory. Our Council President, Marjorie Fox, led efficient council meetings over Zoom and all of our meetings with Department Heads became virtual as well to make sure there was no disruption to the City’s business and services. As we are entering the second half of 2022, it is becoming clearer everyday that Summit is thriving. Our downtown occupancy rate is as high as it’s ever been and in 2021 Downtown Summit was named one of the Great Places in New Jersey by the New Jersey Chapter of the American Planning Association.
In 2020 I was proud to vote for raising the Pride Flag for the first time ever in the City of Summit. The Pride Flag is an important symbol of Summit’s celebration of diversity and equity for all. It’s also a reminder that Summit is welcoming to everyone no matter how you identify or who you love. We also lit the Chanukah Menorah on the Village Green for the first time ever for the 2020 Holiday Season. And this year, we celebrated Summit's first ever Juneteenth event at the Summit Town Pool. Resolutions like these from our Common Council bring our community closer together and I'm so proud to support them all.
Playing outside is what we did when I was growing up. That’s why it was so important to me to upgrade our outdoor recreation spaces during my first term. We made a very large investment in our Summit Town Pool. The entire inside of the pool was crumbling and we needed to spend a lot of money to completely build a new interior of the pool. It was not easy agreeing to spend all of that taxpayer money at the beginning of the pandemic but it was the right call for our community. The Town Pool has never looked better with new cobalt blue tiles marking the swim lanes and white tile lining the top edge of the pool at the water line which will make the walls last much longer. Judging by the attendance figures, everyone loves the “new” pool. We also secured Union County grant money to completely renovate the basketball courts at Memorial Field and at Tatlock. The old half moon backboards and hard rims have been upgraded to full fiberglass backboards with breakaway rims. Trust me, it feels really good to dunk on a breakaway rim.
On the sustainability side we are well on our way to passing the City’s 4 year goal of planting 1,000 new trees. Storms in recent years have taken a toll on our tree canopy so it is vital that we replenish the number of trees around town. Trees are beautiful, good for the environment, and add to our property value. In the fall of 2021, the Environmental Commission received grant money from the Summit Conservancy and NJ American Water to establish a Tiny Forest behind the Community Center. A Tiny Forest is a method of rapidly growing a forest 5 times faster than traditional growth schemes. I was proud to get my hands dirty to help clear the area, prepare the ground, and plants the trees. 30 years will fly by and we will have a new forest in Summit. We recently began a food composting program at the Summit Transfer Station. The City partnered with Green Bucket to enable food composting for all of our residents. Green Bucket collects the food waste and they have it converted into renewable energy which is a much better outcome than sending that waste to the incinerator. You will be amazed how easy it is to start composting and you will notice how much less trash you will generate. It’s a win-win for everyone because the City will pay less in tipping fees and we’re doing great things for the environment. These are just some of the sustainability issues that we're working on with many more to come.
The safety and well-being of our residents is the number one priority of any government body. Summit has more traffic and pedestrian safety measures in place than ever before and we’re always looking to add more. We live in a walkable community and we want people of all ages to feel safe. That’s why we also built more new sidewalks to make walking easier and our City feels more connected than ever. The biggest challenge on our overall safety is dealing with the scourge of car thefts. While this issue is statewide, we all feel violated when we hear that someone’s car has been stolen. The good news is that this crime is preventable. The Summit Police Department needs our help. Don’t you want to help them? They’re asking us to take care of our key fob and lock our vehicles. That’s it! They’re not asking us to set up a neighborhood watch, or put ourselves in harm’s way, or coming to us for more resources. They just want us to be more mindful of our key fob. Let’s do it together for a safer Summit.
These are just some of the accomplishments I'm so proud of during my first term. Vote for me this November so we can get more done together!