A quick look back at the calendar for 2017 shows that much happened in Flemington.
The East Main Street road project was completed, which included replacement of sewer and water lines and a new street surface.
All residential and most business water meters were replaced with newer units that automatically report new leaks and provide more accurate usage than some of the older meters.
We evaluated three alternatives for rehabilitating the water storage tank on Shields Avenue, selected one of them, and began the long-postponed process to repair the tank.
We worked with the RTMUA and the NJ DEP to advance a draft agreement to allow us to continue to use the Wet Weather (Sewer) Facility while we continue to replace our aging infrastructure to reduce the inflow and infiltration that occur during significant rain events. Like the water tank, this is another significant matter that has been a long time coming, and we are addressing it now.
We identified potential sites for a new well and began testing some of them.
The police department continued its focus on community policing by continuing the Coffee With a Cop program, sponsoring two PBA Community Days on Stangl Road, and conducting a second Streetsmart Pedestrian Safety Campaign.
Also, we added a police dog, known affectionately as Officer Jax, at essentially no cost to taxpayers.
The Courthouse Square redevelopment project made significant progress, moving from a concept to a design that is almost ready to go. A significant step forward was the decision to save the facades of the two most historically significant buildings. We signed a redeveloper agreement in March, expanded the area in need of redevelopment in July, and adopted a revised redevelopment plan in December. Georgian Court University announced its intent to be the college component of the project. The state historic preservation review took place in parallel with the local approvals. Significantly, yesterday, SHPO advised us of their approval of the sale of the 90 Main building to the redeveloper. Their approval letter included a number of pre-construction conditions, and we have 60 days to sign and return our acceptance. But they did approve the sale.
We listed the 144 Main St. property for sale. Pending a buyer, we continued to use it for community events such as the beer garden, a car show, and even to sell Christmas Trees in December.
We reached a COAH settlement and got it approved by courts.
The Flemington Community Partnership hosted the first HackHunterdon competition, continued the successful beer garden events, launched an extensive marketing campaign, and provided beautiful holiday decorations and activities in December.
Elsewhere around town, the Chamber of Commerce building is well along in its restoration and added a beautifully festive look to Main Street during the holiday season. The Spice Factory gained planning board approval to add about 100 residential units on Church St. The Rt. 202/31 circle reconstruction is essentially complete, and Chimney Rock Inn construction is underway at the former American Legion site.
With the success of the Lone Eagle Brewery, other similar establishments have shown interest in coming to Flemington. Therefore, at the next council meeting, we expect to introduce an ordinance to add breweries and distilleries as permitted uses in the TC zone. This is the same change that paved the way for Lone Eagle in the VAS zone.
We also had some losses in 2017. There was the Tirpok Cleaners fire, the closing of the Grille Shack, and, just last week, the closing of the Main Street icon Cocco’s Cafe, although that one should be re-opening under new ownership. Our speed-skating hero, Kimi Goetz, who represented Flemington and the United States as she skated all around the world, did not make the 2018 Olympic team. And, finally, we lost our good friend and former mayor Bob Hauck.
Each win and each loss reminds us that things do not stay the same. No matter how much we long for the comfort of the status quo, it is not ours to keep. It is my belief and optimism that Flemington will continue to adapt to change just as it has always done in the past. I accept it as my leadership role to make that happen smoothly, and I ask everyone else to do the same in whatever role you play.
Phil Greiner, January 3, 2018