Councilman Hamilton read aloud the following:
"There is an old saying stated by a German poet and playwright that goes, "If I accept you as you are, I make you worse. However, if I treat you as what you are capable of becoming, I help you become that."
When I was elected, I saw the possibilities and the value of our community. This instilled an intention to get the Township of Bloomfield on the course of success. We are at the cusp of installing a new leadership team to serve our beloved Township of Bloomfield. So let's take a moment to reflect on our years together as a body. Each year for 12 years I've always asked myself this question and now I ask that we ask ourselves this same fundamental question - did we, as a body, help move our Township forward? And while it is true that I may not be entirely objective, I think any fair assessment would conclude and say - yes we did!
I hope each of your look back on the years, however long with a certain degree of satisfaction, because each of you have most certainly contributed to the public good during the time of my serving. Councilmembers Vicky Burnett, Ray Tamborini, Charles Daglian, Vincent Esposito, Patricia Ritchings, Patricia Spychala, Patricia Barker, Janice Maly Litterio, Robert Ruane, Elias Chalet, Nick Joanow, Carlos Bernard, Michael Venezia, Peggy O'Boyle Dunigan. And last, but certainly not least, Mayor Raymond McCarthy, you have not only been a valued partner to me as a colleague. Together, we've served this community during one of its most difficult periods over this past 12 years, but you have made sure that our Township is effectively reaching the needs of all our residents.
Mr. Mayor, under your leadership, our Council, and our public, assumed an appropriate role in laying the future landscape of any growing community resembling the Township of Bloomfield. I applaud you and thank you for not only these accomplishments on behalf of our community, but for the good spirit you brought to our work together. As a seven-member body, we have not agreed on everything related to a number of things. There is no doubt Mr. Mayor that you and I did have disagreements. However, for the most part I thought that we exemplified a level of civility that should be one of the core principles of our Township's political culture.
One of our most important responsibilities, of course, is to balance the Township's budget and to be careful stewards of our taxpayers' dollars. Building on the solid foundation laid by our predecessors, we collectively continued to work towards meeting this fundamental obligation to our residents.
We worked diligently to keep spending under control, and we were very sensitive to the fact that so many families are still struggling in the lingering aftermath of the greatest economic meltdown since he Great Depression. At the same time we worked closely to meet the funding needs of the Board of Education - a school system that is hopefully looking toward to becoming a world class blue ribbon school system. We carefully laid the foundation and added boots on the ground in the critical realm of redeveloping our downtown area; supported those in greatest need by maintaining and strengthening our strong safety net; and from time to time provided a very modest acknowledgement of our appreciation to our hard working employees.
This Council also recognizes critically important truth - if we are to meet the needs of our community going forward, we must continue to grow our tax base rather than simply increasing tax rates. It is a strategy that is already paying dividends - as we see the implementation of our 12-year long work in redevelopment beginning to take shape.
Building on our progress made over the past few years, much of your focus should be on economic development and increasing economic opportunity throughout our Township. We committed significant resources to the Township redevelopment, allowing Bloomfield an opportunity to revitalize while maintaining its fine residential neighborhoods and historic character and making it possible for more good things to happen in Bloomfield. Because I still believe Bloomfield is one of the best places you want to come to. Yet, when you get here, you don't want to leave.
We also realize that for our economy to grow, businesses must thrive here. When I began my term, I made it one of my major goals to push our Township to becoming more nimble, more entrepreneurial, and more business friendly. And while we still have along way to go on this road, we did make progress.
With a little nudge from this body, we helped bring about a serious examination of how we do business in this Township and the various ways we might be able to streamline our processes so that our business community spends less of its scarce resources cutting through red tape and more cutting ribbons.
More broadly, we need to have an economic development strategy for our Township that has both real thought and real metrics, and legislation that we passed should help bring that about. At the same time, we need to rely more upon our citizens when it comes to retaining and attracting business, and our support of the Bloomfield Center Alliance should move us in that direction. I believe that one our goals for our Township should be to embrace our diversity and make Bloomfield a "small business friendly environment" as surrounding towns have discovered years ago.
Our Township's economic future, and our capacity to attract investment, is very much linked to making substantial progress in addressing what has been our number one quality of life issue for many, many years - our overburdened transportation network.
We put our shoulders to the wheel here as well. Under our leadership, and the leadership of Glenn Domenick, we have taken the lead in bringing back investment interest, because without a serious and sustained infusion of funding interests, the underpinning of our economic development plans will not materialize.
We deepened our commitment to a transit community approach. For years we talked and deliberated, and we are finally at the cusp of realizing the critical goal of the parking deck and the train station's potential to the metro-New York area. We directed our planners to the master plan with a transit system in mind; we strengthened our test for the adequacy of such a transit community; and in pursuit of alternative and healthy transportation options, we are beginning to promote and explore new and exciting transportation options for our community.
The experts have told us that our economic future will also depend upon our capacity to generate housing that is affordable for our commuting workforce and our most precious and seasoned citizens - our seniors. This remains a most challenging and yet promising problem, but we are moving the ball forward here as well. Not only have we provided serious resources to the housing initiative, but the number of units is on the rise in our community.
One of the hallmarks of our Township is our commitment to the environment. I am very proud to have moved and implemented the Bloomfield Recycling Committee and of our recent programs to ensure we examine numerous recycling options. Our community certainly deserves more than we have given them, that we do not lose sight of the need to fully invest in the options of our government and businesses to embrace a more sustainable infrastructure and environment.
So, my colleagues, I think we can take some measure of satisfaction in the results of our work over these past few years. And yes, as I know each of you appreciates, there is much still to do, so much that must be done if we are to realize our full potential as a community. And make no mistake about it - the Township of Bloomfield is a true microcosm of the future of our State and our Nation. It is a future that we must shape. And we are, in my view, blessed with the political, economic and intellectual capacity to do just that - to take command of our destiny.
We can and must succeed in demonstrating that our diversity is indeed one of our greatest strengths - that the education we provide to every child remains second to none and also prepares our students to meet the very different demands of the new economy - that we can build a more thriving, vibrant, egalitarian community upon the strong foundation of our unique economic assets, our lovely neighborhoods, our beautiful parks, and our vital recreational opportunities, and that we can and will provide 21st century transportation and utility services to our residents.
It is the work that we could not do, and I certainly could not have done, without the contributions of our superb professional staff. Along with the Township Administrator and his staff I can refer to them as the backbone of this body and the service that they do is second to none. Mr. Administrator, may you and your team maintain the standard of excellence that is the hallmark of this institution, the great Township of Bloomfield. Thank you.
I, like many of you I would suspect, when we see families moving into a new house or apartment, a shop owner cutting a ribbon or while an owner hangs their grand opening banner, the new parking deck, retail shop space and a residential unit being built, asking support for not going into an unnecessary war or supporting our children as their face lights up when they hear their name announced on opening day or a street cleaning crew en route to make his rounds, a firefighter at his post, a police office patrolling our Township - it reminds us whey the work we do is so important. That government, when it works effectively, makes good things possible for our citizens, and that the work of government may not always be pretty, but we can get past that if it is in pursuit of a common worthy cause.
Colleagues, our work is, no doubt, is on behalf of a worthy cause. In pursuit of securing the future of our community, our work is not done. I know my work is not done either. Only Heaven knows in which capacity. But I also pray that our Council is in capable hands as well as yours, in the period ahead of us.
It has been a true honor to serve with you and for you in the community we all love. I thank you Mr. Mayor for the privilege, and I thank you for all the ways you have made our Township a better place to live.
In closing, I would like thank those who brought new perspectives to me during my tenure as Councilman-At-Large. I thank those who couldn't believe that there was an African-American on the ticket. I hope that my rich, thick, ebony hue wasn't the insight of hopeful service. But, it was my response to your needs and concerned questions stabilized by foundational leadership, which determined your trust in me, in this position. Once again, to the citizens of the Township of Bloomfield - Thank You!"