Mayor Hanks: 2017 STATE OF THE BOROUGH ADDRESS
Good Evening, this is my 20th Annual Address to the Residents of Ridley Park.
For the first time in many years, our budget was prepared and approved in a timely manner. For the 3rd straight year, the 2017 budget requires no tax increase. As your Mayor, this makes me nervous but I have been assured that there will be no cut in services or quality of our services. In fact, the Borough allows for the possibility of additional services.
I thank our Borough Manager, the Finance Committee, and Department Heads for working diligently to produce the 2017 budget.
Several items which have a significant positive effect upon increased revenues and cash flow, are the reduction in Health Plan premiums as the result of negotiations in 2016. These savings amount to $185,600.00. Another is what I call a “future positive”. Taylor Hospital is now a For Profit Organization and this will result in new tax revenues for 2017. Negotiations with the new owners are underway.
Based upon a successful 90% Grant of $223,835.00 by our Borough Manager, this provided the funds for the purchase of a new leaf machine which allows for significantly faster pick-up and at the same time is less labor intensive.
With regards to Recycling, we received a Municipal Recycling Grant of $12,000.00. Also, a result of Recycling, we saved $20,000.00 in “tipping fees”. The more recycling, the less trash, therefore the reduction in “tipping fees”. This should encourage residents to take advantage of our recycling program. It is a financial plus for the Borough and great for the environment.
We also received a 70%, $23,284.00 TreeVitalize Watershed Grant. This will improve our Lake by preventing bank erosion, reduce pollution from entering the Lake, and provide shaded areas for fish development.
The $240,000.00 redevelopment grant for Bonnes Park is in its final stage and a planned opening is scheduled for the 2nd Quarter of 2017.
The $350,000.00 Safe Schools Grant for Hillside Road work continues with construction planned for 2018.
Police and Fire Departments
Policing has changed significantly in the past several years, requiring extra vigilance both for the safety of our residents and our Police Officers.
One of my requirements is for our Police Chief to ensure full coverage on night-time shifts ensuring immediate back-up in those emergency and high-risk circumstances. On day-time shifts, 80% to 90% coverage is sufficient since the Chief and Investigator are available.
As a note of awareness, when one turns Left off I-95, you are in Ridley Park.
The Chief is also responsible for managing 13 to 15 Crossing Guards, 2 Meter people, and 2 Part-Time Secretaries. He is also responsible for some 2,000 students attending 3 schools in Ridley Park. Also, a Hospital, Nursing Home, and Hospice House
Three well deserved officers were awarded promotions based upon competitive testing by the Civil Service Commission.
They are: Corporal Nasella, promoted to Sergeant.
Officer Hanly, promoted to Corporal
Officer Quinlan, promoted to Corporal
To ensure that our Police have the necessary equipment to perform their functions, 2 new vehicles are budgeted for 2017. Also, 4 new radios will be purchased. It is noted that a 2005 Dodge Durango and a 2009 Dodge Charger were sold in 2016.
We continue to communicate the increasing seriousness of the Heroin/Opiate plague that takes a great toll, not only on our young, but people of all ages. Ridley Park has been doing our share for a small community, conducting drug programs for over 10 years. Our Police, (Chief Frazier and Sergeant Nasella) continue their Heroin Alert presentations thanks to funding from Taylor Community Foundation. During 2016, 24 presentations were made covering some 700 students at Interboro & Ridley Schools. Over a period of about 8 years, presentations have been made to about 8,000 students from middle school to college level and to about 1,000 adults.
We continue to advocate for the use of Radar as a speeding control. PA continues to be the only state that does not allow local communities to use this important piece of equipment for speeding control.
As your Mayor, responsible for Police operations, I strongly appreciate and support our Police effort in ensuring that we are a safe Community. We have excellent professional and devoted Police Officers.
Volunteerism is key. It is important that we have a sufficient number of volunteers to provide quality service to our Community to assure residents protection in the event of fire or other emergencies.
The Fire Department runs various fundraisers during the year. I suggest supporting them by being a contributor. Volunteers are free. Paid Firefighters are expensive.
Fire Fighting is complex, and subject to rigid safety standards due to obvious risks. All calls have an element of risk.
Firefighters must undergo vigorous training before they are qualified to be part of a fire fighting crew in order to ensure safety not only for themselves, but also to other members. Ongoing training is continuous and extensive.
The Fire Department received a significant FEMA Grant of $46,000.00 to replace old personal safety equipment with new, more modern equipment. This provides improved safety and maneuverability for our Firefighters.
Our Fire Department, in addition to their great Open House Fire Prevention Day, also provides outreach programs at school and other organizations.
We thank our Volunteer Firefighters for their dedicated service to the safety of our Community.
One of the measures of the vitality of a community, are the events we have for our residents.
Main Streets is a separate organization whose primary purpose is to promote our Downtown Business Community. Events that work towards this cause are:
The Fall Festival in October draws 4,000 to 5,000 residents and visitors to our downtown area providing great sales opportunities for our shops.
The Farmers Market is the best outdoor Markets in the area.
The Christmas Market is a new Main Street event centered in our Downtown area. It was very successful for a first-time event. I made purchases from 3 of our retail stores and they were pleased with the event and hope it continues next year.
Main Streets organization paid for Ridley Park signs at our entrance ways and for a sound system for our Community Center, also, for outside use, such as Memorial Day
The Athletic Club provides activities for some 800 of our Youth supported by over 100 volunteers. Softball, Football, Baseball, & Cheerleaders. This includes the great Opening Day Parade for the Softball/Baseball season with some 500 participants and Homecoming event activities for Players, Coaches, & Volunteers. They had Champion Football & Softball Teams.
This is a great Community Social Event and the best fireworks around. The Borough also provides the 4th of July Parade and games.
Town Fair at the Lake in September, has been a successful event for over 30 years.
Borough-wide Flea Market
Business & Professional Association
Santa Claus Comes to Town is one of our town’s largest and best attended events. Santa was visited by many of our children.
Easter Egg Hunt
Ridley Park has 2 senior groups who hold multiple luncheons, Bingo, and special events.
Barnstormers is a jewel in Ridley Park. They hold 5 or 6 performances per year. They are the longest continuing Play House in PA. More Ridley Parkers should attend their performances.
The Memorial Day event takes place at Veterans Park. There are guest speakers who are combat Veterans of various wars.
Our Library is the friendliest Library around. Total membership is 2,948 patrons, an increase of 170 in 2016. There were 106 programs with 1,589 children in attendance. The Library received a Play K Grant from the PA State Library for learning materials to help preschoolers develop the skills needed to be successful in Kindergarten. There were 36 Adult programs with 237 in attendance. The Friends of the Library contributes $3,170 to help in funding various Library activities.
Sellers Avenue Bridge Replacement
The latest information is that construction is scheduled for mid-2018 with the outside possibility of starting sooner.
Dredging of the Ridley Park Lake
We are working with Delaware County Council to procure Marcellas Shale Funds of dredging of our lake. It is important to dredge the Lake on a regular basis to prevent the build-up of silt that would then require a very costly major dredging of the Lake. We feel this is not just a Grant for Ridley Park but also for visitors from surrounding Communities who enjoy our Lake.
The Beautification Plan is similar to what we had some years ago, this covers Professional Landscaping areas at the entrances to Ridley Park, our Downtown area, Memorial Park, Borough Hall, & the Lake. This would include year-round maintenance. This goes a long way to making us the quality town that we want.
We have had a series of public meetings regarding information from Sora Northeast, a real estate development organization, regarding the redevelopment of our Central Business District.
Though they have presented interesting informal proposals, I believe we should also look at other options. It is important that we move in the right direction, both short and long term within our financial capability.
Update of Master Plan for Our Lake
I would recommend to Council and Planning that we consider an update of our Master Plan for the Lake. The current plan is dated 12/31/2001. An updated plan would be very helpful in obtaining Grants for the Lake.
I’ve been working on the development of a Walking Trail that could connect 3 of our Parks. A committee has been formed. On this committee are, Sue MacAtee, Samantha Snow, and Shelly Dalessio. I’ve asked them and others to walk the Trail and give me their written opinions. Others that may be interested, a copy of the Trail is available at Borough Hall. I get very positive comments when discussing the Trail with residents.
Citizens Police Academy
This is in the Police Departments plan for 2017.
We should continue this event for Christmas 2017 as part of Main Streets. Its purpose is to promote our Downtown Business District.
Ridley Park is a great town with a great reputation. As I walk through our town, I continue to observe how well maintained and well landscaped our residents’ keep their homes. It’s obvious that our residents are proud of our community and enjoy being a part of the Ridley Park experience. Importantly many of you volunteer on our Committees and organizations and participate in the success of our Town’s many activities which makes Ridley Park a great place to live. We do this while maintaining our rich heritage and traditions and recognize the need to adjust to the challenges of the future.
My goal, our goal, since my 1st year as Mayor, is to maintain and enhance Ridley Park as a quality residential community.
Working together we can continue to achieve this worthy goal.