Jefferson Township Mayor Eric Wilsusen vows to continue the “aggressive agenda” he came into office with last January.
He reported on his first year in office and some of his plans for the second at the council meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 15.
He admitted “events of the day tend to hijack your agenda,” citing automobile accidents, a drowning in Jefferson and another elsewhere on Lake Hopatcong, a murder in White Rock Lake, a siltation problem from Weldon Quarry and, especially, the harmful algal bloom that crippled the lake for most of the summer.
In spite of all that, Wilsusen feels he accomplished a good deal.
After the retirement of long-time administrator James Leach, the township received 20 applications to replace him. Township resident Debra Milikin was hired to fill the slot. He also replaced long-time township attorney Larry Cohen with Tom Ryan of Laddey, Clark and Ryan.
Another change was putting township Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Ed Mangold in an administrative position with the fire companies and rescue squads.
“Change is not always easy,” Wilsusen admitted, but, he added, once the chiefs saw what he was trying to accomplish, such as combining purchases, they came on board.
Before Milikin was hired John Eskilson served as interim administrator. Wilsusen kept him on to create a strategic plan. One aspect of that plan is to assess the mechanical systems in all the township’s buildings.
The township will also auction off surplus equipment each year, the mayor said.
The new township webpage went live on Wednesday and the township will use a municipal management software program to link various departments. The new software will also allow field inspectors to log in their inspections on their tablets on site.
During 2019, the road department paved all of White Rock Lake and worked in conjunction with Hardyston Township to update drainage and pave the roads in Lake Stockholm.
Because of the increasing cost of asphalt, the township will not be able to pave all of the roads that need it in 2020. Wilsusen said they will try a technique called cape seal and micropaving, starting on Topsail Road.
Cape seal is a chip seal covered with a slurry or micro-surface, according to a Cornell University report on the process. It solves the roughness problem that comes with traditional oil and chip paving. Cape seal creates a smooth surface and binds any loose aggregate. It can be used over small cracks, but, as with any paving, large cracks and potholes must be addressed before paving begins.
“It’s not permanent,” the mayor said, “but it buys us time.” He noted road issues are always the biggest source of complaints from the public.
The good news, he added, is that Morris County’s bridge department tells him the Ridge Road Bridge will be replaced this year.
One of the biggest challenges of 2020 will come from the garbage contract, he said. The costs for garbage and recycling have increased dramatically for the contractors, he noted.
Contract negotiations with all of the township’s unions will also come this year.