1/3/2023 - Mayor's 2023 State of Somerville Address
Dear Somerville Community,
Welcome all to 2023. We gather once again to reflect on the last 12 months and to look forward with hope and confidence to the year ahead.
The year 2022 was an energetic and productive time for Somerville. We may cover only 2 square miles, but a lot happened in that small area. Numbers don’t always tell the whole story, but here are a few statistics to help highlight what Somerville accomplished as we continue to rebound from the combined effects of both COVID and Ida.
Your Borough Council, ably assisted by our highly trained and dedicated office administrative staff, negotiated 49 professional contracts, signed 9 interlocal agreements, and received over $9 million in grant funds from federal, state, and county sources. These initiatives helped stabilize municipal taxes while promoting our ongoing focus on needed infrastructure upgrades. Forty new local ordinances were adopted to strengthen government operations and improve the quality of life for our residents. Essential services continued to perform at their usual high level, with our Police, Fire and Public Works Departments, First Aid and Rescue Squad, Office of Emergency Management, CERT and Fire Police responding to countless calls in a variety of both routine and dangerous situations. Our deepest appreciation goes out to these everyday heroes whose personal sacrifices keep Somerville safe and strong. Finally, our Construction Office guided the efforts of both new and renovation projects by issuing 881 building permits and conducting 3,056 inspections in 2022 alone. Yes, Somerville continues to be a beehive of activity.
As we turn our attention to 2023, I can confidently say that the coming year will build upon our past successes. Everywhere you look you will see and hear the tangible results of both public and private investment in our community. Public safety will be enhanced with road improvements and utility upgrades all over town. We anticipate the delivery of a new fire engine, and we will watch with pride and anticipation as the Emergency Services Complex takes shape. The transition to private ownership of our sanitary sewer system should happen by early fall, providing immediate financial benefit to Somerville, and more importantly, insuring long-term operational efficiency to this critical infrastructure component.
Somerville’s park system will undergo a huge facelift this year. A totally rebuilt Lepp Park should be ready for summer activities, and a new tot lot on Fairview Avenue is in the works. We will begin the challenging task of restoring Chambres Park on Southside Avenue, and I look forward to collaborating with experts from many disciplines to bring family fun back to the site. In addition, our existing playgrounds will see continuing repairs to the storm damage suffered in 2021 as funds become available.
Private sector redevelopment initiatives will continue to flourish. Mixed use sites on West Main Street and around the train station should be completed this year, including the new Somerville Civic Center where our 2024 Reorganization meeting, along with other borough functions, will be held. That facility will expedite the ultimate sale of this building, thus creating a new ratable property to enhance our tax rolls. Construction on the long-dormant former Baker and Taylor site should begin in the spring, thus removing a neighborhood eyesore while bringing additional revenue to the borough budget. The welcome sights and sounds of a prosperous town will herald Somerville’s continued growth and further our well-earned reputation as a community of opportunity.
We have formed strong and productive partnerships with Washington, Trenton, Somerset County, and our neighboring towns, and I look forward to strengthening those bonds moving forward. I plan to invite newly elected Congressman Kean to meet with me to discuss Somerville’s needs, and we will continue to network with our state and county representatives on matters of mutual interest. I thank the Borough Council for its past efforts and anticipate another successful year of guiding Somerville through the many challenges that are sure to occur. Finally, I wish to thank our 12,000 residents whose collective spirit makes this the best place I know of to live, work, play, learn, and love. May 2023 bring your families the peace, happiness, and strength needed to navigate an ever-changing world, and may the Good Lord continue to watch over and bless the Somerville we all call home.
Mayor Dennis Sullivan
January 3, 2023