Message from the Mayor, July 2, 2020

Township records $850,000 savings

in 'under-the-radar' pandemic action

During this pandemic shutdown, the challenges facing Chatham Township in many ways are just like the challenges facing each of our families.

Whether it's a municipality or a family, the safety issues of the Coronavirus color everything we do. But families still have to get the car fixed when it breaks down. The challenges of the job – or looking for a new job – still need to be addressed. Families still have to buy groceries, plan for the start of the next school year, and perform the million other day-to-day jobs that must get done regardless of a worldwide pandemic.

Chatham Township, too, must get the job done. Coronavirus issues may get most of the headlines. But behind the scenes the Township is working to deliver the million-and-one services we all expect.

This week's Covid-19 totals for the Township stand unchanged at 151 confirmed cases and 33 deaths. With those numbers unchanged, this week's Message from the Mayor will focus on some of the behind-the-scenes work that's being done to maintain and improve Chatham Township as a special place to live.

Colony Pool opened Tuesday, June 30, to a good crowd of more than 110 by mid-afternoon despite passing thunder storms. With its wide expanse of grass and large swimming area, Colony Pool is uniquely suited to deal with the state's Coronavirus  restrictions which require social distancing and discourage long-distance travel. Check out the Colony Pool website for details and fees, including an invitation to Chatham Borough families to join at Chatham Township prices as the Borough's Memorial Pool remains closed by the pandemic.

Chatham Township last week adopted a resolution to accept a $467,253 Green Acres grant from the state Department of Environmental Protection. This is unanticipated funding for the purchase in 2017 of the seven-acre Open Space tract at the corner of Southern Boulevard and River Road. Next time you drive through that intersection, thank the Township's Open Space volunteers for this green gateway to the Township.

With the Municipal Building closed due to the Coronavirus, many people are unaware that a $308,000 improvement project has begun, with 75% paid for by PSE&G and no out-of-pocket expense to the Township. New LED lighting, boilers and HVAC duct work is being installed  at the Municipal Building and Police Headquarters, with the Township's 25% share of the cost to be covered by the resulting savings in energy costs.

Further reducing energy costs, the Township changed electricity supplier on June 9 to cut  its cost per kilowatt hour in half. The projected savings is more than $40,000 per year.

A new contract for copiers throughout all municipal buildings will save an estimated $11,000 over five years. A new contract with Comcast is pending and, when approved, will provide $35,000 in reimbursement toward the Township's communications and video equipment. The Township is currently seeking bids on a new telephone system with an eye toward saving money and improving service.

All these combined actions will save Township residents more than $850,000 in grants and savings.

Our thanks to Township Administrator Bob Hoffmann and to all the municipal employees and volunteers who helped with each of these projects. Any one of these actions would have been a headline in a normal year. But in 2020 they are a footnote to the pandemic.

Which brings us back to talking about the pandemic. The concern is that out-of-control infection rates across many parts of the county will overwhelm the successful precautions we have taken locally.  That will depend on what we do, and don't do.

Remember that wearing masks and keeping social distancing works.  Wash hands frequently, stay home when feeling ill, and contact  your physician if symptoms begin to escalate. Following these common sense guidelines will   avoid exposing ourselves – and those who are more vulnerable -- to infection.

Have a happy Fourth of July Weekend. Enjoy all of our new opportunities   as New Jersey cautiously enters each new phase of reopening from the Coronavirus shutdown. Be careful, exercise good judgment and stay safe.

    

Michael Kelly,

Chatham Township Mayor