By Kayla J. Marsh
EATONTOWN – As the Borough Council reorganized to say goodbye to a member, welcome a new member and swear another into his third term, many took the time to reflect on the past year and highlight goals for 2016.
During the council’s Jan. 1 reorganization meeting, former Councilwoman Janice Kroposky was thanked for her three years serving as a member of the governing body.
“Janice will always be remembered for her ability to work well with the entire council, her dedication to our youth, her sound judgment and maybe her eye-rolling ability when she believed a topic was dragging on too long – causing our meetings to not start on time,” Mayor Dennis Connelly said. “I do know she enjoyed her time on council and her decision not to seek reelection was not an easy one to make.”
Meanwhile at the reorganization meeting, a newcomer, Virginia East, was sworn into her first term on council – filling Kroposky’s seat.
“I am honored to be part of this council,” she said. “We have a lot of challenges ahead of us in 2016 [and] I know we want the best for Eatontown, even if at times we don’t agree on exactly what the best is or how to get there … however, I am confident that we will work together [and] I promise to give my best efforts to this council and to the residents of Eatontown.”
East’s running mate, Councilman Anthony Talerico Jr., was the first to welcome her to the council.
“I was honored when you agreed to run with me as an independent, I was ecstatic when we won and now words can’t describe how happy I am to have you here as part of our team,” he said. “The depth and breathe of knowledge and experience you bring is [heightened] only by the shear energy and enthusiasm you have for your town [and] I look forward to working with you in the coming years.”
Talerico was also sworn into his third term on council and took some time to highlight the borough’s Historical Committee and the work they do at the borough museum.
“[The museum] is a repository for the memories, both good and bad for the borough of Eatontown … [and] is beginning a new effort to rekindle interest … and I encourage you to start viewing the museum as the center of our town and all of our memories,” he said.
He also thanked borough employees, volunteers and other officials for their hard work and dedication.
Also at the reorganization meeting, Connelly reflected on his first year as mayor.
“New Year’s Day is a time to look back and review the past year and start preparing for the new tomorrows,” he said.
From upgrading the borough’s website, to starting a quarterly electronic newsletter to implementing coffee days with the mayor and council members, Connelly said much has happened over the last year to help improve the borough.
“At the beginning of last year, I was given a pair of extra large scissors and they have gotten quite the workout,” he said.
From significant progress being made on the Fort Monmouth property to numerous businesses being opened or rededicated, such as Habit Burger, Voyagers’ Community School and the Motor Vehicle Commission, he said things are looking up in the borough.
“We do have some very exciting times ahead in this town,” Connelly said. “We have successful business and companies with a desire to invest in Eatontown and that is something to be exited about.”
Connelly said the council has also worked hard this past year and has made significant changes to help improve the aesthetics of the borough, including amending the rent control ordinance to allow apartment owners to charge market rate for rental properties for new residents.
“This change did not affect any current resident who held a lease that was included in our rent control ordinance prior to the amendment to be controlled,” he said. “Current residents were grandfathered with rent control until they decide to discontinue their rental agreement voluntarily, at which time the unit will become decontrolled.”
He said the modification puts Eatontown back in line with the majority of municipalities in Monmouth County.
“This change was made to give an incentive to rental owners to improve their properties and to have a greater rental value,” Connelly said. “The modification is a win for current renters, a win for property owners and a win for our town.”
Council also took action to reduce the signage being used to liter borough roadways, as well as was one of the first municipalities to opt-out of the Monmouth County Assessment Demonstration Program, he said.
“To all the residents in town who voiced their concern over the program, we hear you. To the Monmouth County Tax Board and our state legislators our message is clear – fix it or we don’t want to be a part of it,” he said. “Eatontown was the first town to officially opt-out after the board changed the rules to allow towns to do so and after our lead six other towns have opted-out.”