Six Months In: A Letter from Mayor Reed Gusciora
Dear Trenton Residents:
With the year coming to a close, I want to tell you about some of our accomplishments in the first six months of my tenure as your Mayor. When I campaigned for your vote, I talked about improving our City by bringing competency back to government. I’m proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish in a short period of time, including:
Being awarded over $17 million of new public and private grant funding;
Pursuing over $19 million of grants and aid;
Cleaning up 20 alleyways and hundreds of streets in all four wards;
Paving and repairing 70 streets, a total of 5.4 miles of roadway;
Issuing 848 summons for vacant properties; and
Demolishing 47 abandoned homes, with an additional 300 properties now listed for demolition, and issuing over 2,000 permits for building and home repairs.
We’ve also taken steps to address some of the financial challenges our City is facing. I’m proud to announce a big step forward for Trenton. We have been informed by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs that the City will receive an additional $5 million in transitional aid from the State, bringing us to $14 million and up from the $9 million the City received in prior years.
My next objective is to restore the direct state appropriation for the Capital City which Governor Christie eliminated. This line item is common for state capitals, as a way to make up for the property taxes the City cannot collect from state-owned buildings. While the increase in transitional aid is a great step forward, I am going to fight to make sure the Capital City Line Item is put back into the State budget so that Trenton can get its fair share of revenue.
On a related note, we presented a realistic and responsible budget to the City Council. We are also diligently working to correct the mismanagement of state and federal grant opportunities that occurred from 2011 to 2018. We are in the process of unfreezing $6 million in Community Development Block Grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for housing projects and redevelopment, and we are actively pursuing $15 million in Transportation Trust Fund grants from the New Jersey Department of Transportation for major road improvement projects, as compared to zero dollars in 2017.
Dr. Shing-Fu Hsueh, a former Deputy Commissioner at the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, has done an excellent job of leading the Trenton Water Works. TWW has held community meetings in all four customer municipalities to help ensure an open relationship with the public, and we are committed to holding additional information sessions in 2019. The TWW is continuing to make major capital expenditures to improve the standard of service residents deserve. We also renegotiated our contract with our consultant for one year, which will give us greater control and a reduction of costs in the future.
Parents will be excited to know that we broke ground on Hetzel Pool and plan to have it operational for this summer.
We have the most diverse cabinet in City history with individuals representing various races and religions. These very talented people are leading crucial departments, including Shakira Abdul-Ali (Health and Human Services), Yolanda Vazquez (Housing and Inspections), Wahab Onitiri (Public Works) and Maria Richardson (Recreation). I am also pleased that the City Council confirmed my nomination of Derrick Sawyer, former Philadelphia fire commissioner, to lead Trenton’s Fire Department, and look forward to Council approving our new Business Administrator, Adam Cruz. Additionally, I appointed Taraun Tice and Sadé Williams to the Board of Education. Both have the right backgrounds and experience, and I couldn’t be happier about their commitment to serve.
We are actively working on the City’s economic development to improve the quality of life and bring good paying jobs to Trenton residents. We applied for and have been awarded grants through the National Resource Network for economic development and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority through its Innovation Challenge Grant. With this grant, we will plan the Trenton Production and Knowledge Innovation Campus, which will build an incubator and a maker’s campus for existing and start-up businesses, local creators, and students and faculty of Trenton Public Schools and partnering with the five area colleges and universities (Mercer County Community College, Thomas Edison State University, The College of New Jersey, Rider University, and Princeton University). Its mission is to help give local entrepreneurs space and resources to build and grow their businesses. We have also seen renewed interest in development including on the sites of the former Cooke School and Roebling Block II, which have been vacant for many years.
This is just a sample of the work we’ve done across our departments, and I look forward to adding more victories for the City in 2019. My administration and I are working hard each day to make Trenton a great place to live, work, and visit.
Have a happy and safe holiday season.
Very truly yours,
W. Reed Gusciora