While important to keep the police, fire, and rescue squad well-equipped to address emergencies, public safety encompasses more than just that. A comprehensive approach is the most effective way to ensure safe neighborhoods. This year, the Public Safety Committee and Finance Committee have started initiatives that will not only make South River better, but also a safer place to live.
At the most basic level, our borough needs a plan for safe streets and sidewalks. Sadly, it has been years since South River has had a road program in place, but this year that changed. Six roads will be paved to address unsafe and deteriorating roads. We’re also working on a list of future roads to be paved based upon a needs assessment.
The new curb and sidewalk program had over 80 applicants and we’re committed to addressing uneven and damaged sidewalks. A new Safe Streets Task Force has been created after recommendation from the Green Team. The goal is to allow community input to serve as a conduit between the police, the Council, and our engineer. It’s also focused on strengthening safe routes to school with education and through programs like Walk to School Day.
We also passed an ordinance that begins to treat pedestrians, bicycles, and automobiles equally, working to develop traffic calming techniques like more defined crosswalk patterns to aid traffic safety and reduce speeding on the main roads in town.
Another issue of public safety is something I’m focused on addressing. Many are dealing with the aftermath of the recession with foreclosed vacant properties around their neighborhood. These properties can attract many public safety concerns. The new vacant property ordinance is designed to incentivize owners of these vacant properties to put them on the market to allow some good neighbors to buy them and thereby increase the curb appeal and pride in these neighborhoods.
Looking at public safety in untraditional ways is an important way to reduce concerns overall. They have the added benefit of increasing the quality of life in South River. Finding small ways of making our public spaces beautiful makes us safer and can supplement our strong public safety departments. I believe a safer South River means a stronger South River and I’m committed to continuing these efforts in the years ahead.