By Kayla J. Marsh
RUMSON – After being sworn into his fourth-term, Mayor John Ekdahl reflected on borough events and activities of 2015, applauding council and community members for meeting challenges with diplomacy and dignity.
According to Ekdahl, the borough continued its commitment toward creative cost-cutting solutions through shared services programs with local municipalities.
“The borough re-committed to its long-running Inter Local Service Agreement with Fair Haven on brush disposal, parks and grounds maintenance, street sweeping, catch basin cleaning and engineering services,” he said, adding that in July, Little Silver merged its Building Services Department with Rumson, seeking to lower costs and improve services.
“Recall that eight years ago, Rumson and Fair Haven similarly combined their Building Services Departments,” Ekdahl said. “This allowed residents in both towns to enjoy access to full-time Building Department Services, while eliminating redundancies.
“With the addition of Little Silver’s resources, each of the three towns will benefit due to additional investments in office technology and staff, while any incremental costs are spread across all three towns in accordance with each town’s usage.
“The result is an increased level of service and a significant cost savings to taxpayers in all three towns.”
Several road improvements were also completed to improve quality of life for residents.
“Monmouth County repaved Rumson Road from Bingham Avenue to Branch Avenue in Little Silver and Ridge Road from Bingham Avenue to Branch in Little Silver,” Ekdahl said. “In addition to a much improved driving surface, formal bike lanes were created on Rumson Road from Avenue of Two Rivers west to Buena Vista Avenue, across Buena Vista, down Ridge Road to Alderbrook in Little Silver.
“This will result in a more pleasant and safer experience for cyclists and pedestrians.”
Along with several promotions, life-saving awards, advanced training and the launch of its own Facebook page, the borough’s police department also saw the addition of its first female officer.
“Ptl. Grace Maggiulli was hired full-time in September and has the distinction of being the first female officer on the Rumson Police Force,” Ekdahl said. “She is a great addition to the community and our police force.”
The borough also established a new Historical Preservation Society.
“The Rumson Historic Preservation Commission was formed for the purpose of identifying and assisting in the preservation of the many important properties, homes, landmarks and sites in our borough” Ekdahl said.
According to Ekdahl, the committee has already identified more than 240 properties over 100 years old that meet the preservation criteria.
“In an effort to preserve the special character of our town, the Commission acts as a resource for historic property owners and other residents, the council, and the Zoning Board [and] launched the Rumson Historic Preservation Commission website,” he said. “The site has a brief history of Rumson, streams historical photos, and provides information on identified historic properties and the Commission itself.”
Ekdahl said maintaining the highest quality parks and recreational spaces is a high priority for the borough.
“In the last decade resident demand for playing field time has skyrocketed, particularly in field sports such as lacrosse and soccer,” he said. “In fact, the borough struggles to meet current resident demand for field space.”
The borough resurfaced the Victory Park tennis courts at a cost of approximately $17,000 in 2015 and applied for two Monmouth County Municipal Open Space Grants for improvements to Piping Rock Park. The borough was already awarded $250,000 in matching funds and it’s currently waiting to hear back on its recent application.
“On behalf of the council members and myself, it is our honor and privilege to serve our community as your elected representatives and we appreciate your support,” Ekdahl said.