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Mayor's Corner
Marcia Asdal
Dear Residents and Friends,

I look forward to another year of serving as your mayor – thank you again for the confidence you have placed in me.

Welcome to John Butkus, our newest council member! John and his family own the Old Mill Tavern in the historic section of Milltown. That building has been in commercial operation serving the residents of Chester for many, many years as you can see from this photo! I know that John's perspective as a small-business owner will be a welcome addition to our discussions and decisions.

As I do every year, I want to thank the employees do the heavy lifting of running our town. We are fortunate to have high-quality people working for us; I challenge you to find any more friendly, helpful or accommodating!

As I attended the first meeting of our boards, committees and commissions, I was once again struck by how fortunate we are here in Chester Township. We have a tremendous roster of volunteers, all generously contributing their knowledge and varied experiences to our town. I thank them for their faithful stewardship and for taking on a leadership role to benefit their neighbors. Thanks, too, to the new people who have stepped forward and agreed to volunteer their time to improve Chester Township.

I also want to acknowledge the important role the public plays in governance of this town. Every meeting is open to you, and every board, committee and commission welcomes your input and attendance.

As I took office back in January 2017, I wanted to be sure any action I took as mayor led to this very basic outcome: Happy residents, living in a well-run, highly desirable town.

I believe we – the council, the administration, our employees, the volunteers who serve on our boards, committees, commissions - have accomplished much towards this goal. Some of the highlights from last year are detailed below.

I will continue to preserve and protect Chester Township and respect its history and ensure that future generations will continue to Choose Chester.

-Mayor Marcia Asdal
908.310.2787
In this newsletter...
  • Looking back at 2021
  • Planning Board meeting Jan. 19th - Glenlora
  • COVID testing at County College of Morris

Lots of info - click at the top of the page to open in a new tab and see the entire newsletter!
Financial Accomplishments in 2021
  • Increase of 0.5% municipal portion of taxes
  • Tax collection rate reached its highest ever at 99.4%
  • Returned the Combe South Landfill property to our tax rolls via a solar panel project
  • Received a $250,000 state grant for park improvements
  • Using $400,000 in American Rescue Plan funds that we received in 2021 to offset tax increases in 2022
  • Generated $163,000 in fund balance.
Infrastructure Improvements
  • Glenlora - Directed Planning Board to develop an RFP for 100% affordable housing, serving the special needs community while honoring the historic structure
  • Town Hall & Police Station - Installed new roof and siding
  • Highlands Building - Completed window replacement project to replace old windows with energy-efficient ones
  • Finalized new traffic light at Furnace Rd/Rt. 206 intersection.
Department of Public Works
  • Road resurfacing - DPW accomplished an aggressive schedule of road resurfacing projects with 19 road miles of milling and paving, overlay, micropaving, and seal coating completed this year. Watch this page in early spring for an updated list of 2022 projects
  • Continued improvement of roads 

Back in 2017, our DPW superintendent compiled a master list of our roads and assigned them a score from 1-5 as follows:

           1=      Perfect, no work needed
           2=       Just showing signs of fatigue
           3      Pavement failures, assign process for repair and maintenance
           4=       Road or sections of road have intermediate failures
           5=       Major failures in roadway and subgrade

The following is how our 144 lane miles of roads are currently rated based on the above criteria:

 Rating    2021             2017
1            66 roads              13 roads
2            17 roads              22 roads
3            25 roads              52 roads
4            15 roads              26 roads
5              3 roads                 6 roads

We have made great improvement over the past five years!
Parks
  • Installed patio at Highlands Ridge Park barn
  • Converted Chubb Park baseball field to youth softball field
  • Continued record-breaking use of pickleball courts
  • Broke ground in May on the reconstruction of the Black River Fields, with seeding completed in fall
  • Successfully rebid the Furnace Road cell tower at a higher monthly base rent and receipt of higher percentage of sublease revenue (which goes to support Parks) 
Recreation
  • Hired a new Recreation Director
  • Held multiple in-person events including: Trunk or Treat, Easter Egg Hunt, Summer Camp and more
Administration
  • COVID - Maintained worker and public safety at Town Hall
  • Issued 749 construction permits through November 2021
  • Continued outreach and communication with electronic newsletters and social media posts.
  • Brought back successful in-person voting
  • Facilitated popular contactless tree giveaway event
  • Produced $100 in savings per participant over 16 months with the Hunterdon Area Energy Cooperative program
  • Eliminated lifetime healthcare benefits for new non-contract hires
  • Hosted 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony
Police and First Responders
  • Purchased 4 hybrid-electric police vehicles
  • Successfully maintained the Law Enforcement Against Drugs (LEAD) program at Chester schools
  • Improved traffic safety along Furnace Road
  • Transitioned to body-worn cameras
  • Responded to approximately 32,000 incidents/watches
  • Coordinated COVID response among OEM, Washington Township's Health Department, First Aid Squad and Police Department
  • Produced Chester Fire Company fireworks and concert
  • Coordinated Halloween Trunk-or-Treat and Traveling Santa Claus
Community Garden
  • The Chester Community Garden was pleased to remain open with precautions and have every plot rented for the season - several of which were dedicated to growing produce to donate to area food pantries
  • Installed new roof on garden shed, and a portion of the siding
  • Cleaned, sanitized, and painted water tanks
  • Offered free raised bed materials
  • The 2022 season will soon get underway. Click here for information about how to sign up for a plot
Challenges Ahead
The pandemic and its aftermath have posed a number of challenges to local governments going forward. Among them:

  • Still unknown COVID-related costs: employee stability, and supply chain issues and delays in obtaining necessary supplies & equipment or the need to locate alternative vendor sources
  • Possible reversal of recent construction revenues
  • Cost of technology investments to facilitate remote meetings, communications, and services
  • Increases in pension liability: 7-8%
  • Increases in retiree healthcare cost: $105k
  • Increases in regular healthcare costs: 3.5-4%
  • Increases in insurance (workers comp & liability: 7.1%
  • Doubling of gasoline & diesel costs
  • Unknown costs of future Health Dept. contract
Planning Board/Council meeting
Wednesday, January 19th 7:00 p.m. via Zoom

This meeting will discuss if the NJ Redevelopment and Housing Law applies to the Glenlora site. The Planning Board will discuss the statutory criteria by which the site may be designated as an Area of Redevelopment or Rehabilitation.

This meeting is a necessary next step to develop the Glenlora property that will help Chester Township meet its mandated affordable housing obligation.

The Planning Board will then make a recommendation to the Council as to whether the site meets the statutory criteria.

As a reminder, the Council at its September 21, 2021 meeting tasked the Planning Board with developing an RFP (request for proposal) that meets these five criteria:

  • The site should be designated a redevelopment to allow flexibility in selecting a developer
  • The site should be 100% affordable units - no market rate homes or commercial businesses
  • The site should serve the special needs community such as adults with developmental disabilities
  • The development should incorporate the existing historic structure
  • There should be preference for working within the existing zoning

There will be more Planning Board meetings over the coming months to discuss the remaining specifications of the RFP. All meetings are open to the public.

  • Read more about NJ's Redevelopment law here on pages 10-12.
  • General information about affordable housing and the Glenlora site can be found here.

Questions? Contact Marcia Asdal at masdal@chestertownship.org or 908-310-2787.

Information about how to join the Zoom meeting is here.
Protect Yourself and Your Community
The simultaneous spread of the Delta and highly transmissible Omicron variants, as well as increased holiday travel and indoor gatherings, have caused a tsunami of COVID-19 infections in the state.
New Jersey is reporting record high COVID-19 cases and test positivity rates. Emergency department visits and hospitalizations for COVD-like illness are also increasing for both adults and children.
Take the steps necessary to protect yourselves and your families:

Morris County is now offering no-cost, in-person COVID-19 testing by appointment only at the County College of Morris. Testing is available 7 days per week, 7 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. (except for a half hour between 12:30 p.m. and 1 p.m.) No walk-ins will be accepted. More info here.

Morris County News

A new mobile app is available giving access to all the in-person services offered by the Morris County Clerk's office: election, passport info and appointments, notary, veteran's info and more.
Winter storm preparedness

We'd like to remind everyone to get their homes prepared for the coming winter storm season. Visit our Emergency Management webpage for tips on how to make sure you're prepared for extended power outages.
My thanks to Jane Biron and Kevin McGee for sharing their beautiful photos!
Chester Township
1 Parker Road
Chester NJ 07930
908-879-5100
www.chestertownship.org