Current Issues


What's Happening in Belleville!

 

Corona Virus Update:

Please visit the Township website www.bellevillenj.org for current information.

 

In 2008, Belleville and our country were faced with overcoming one of the greatest economic downturns in over 75 years until now. Together, we as a community got through that challenge. We are again facing a challenge in 2020. This is the challenge of a lifetime. COVID 19 is a vicious virus.  Unemployment is now at an all time high. We need to practice safe socialization by staying home or keeping our distance. If we have to go out, we should wear masks and gloves. When we come up we should wash our hands thoroughly   In 2020 we should pray, support each other, and look  forward to a different but brighter future.

We are extremely proud of Dr. Lonnie Bunch III

 14th Secretary of the Smithsonian

 

Lonnie Bunch portrait

Dear Belleville Residents and Belleville High School Alumni:

Few people have done more in recent years to bring positive attention to Belleville than our own alumnus and "Belleville Wall of Fame" member Dr. Lonnie G. Bunch III  (BHS Class '70).  As the founding director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture, he has appeared on "60 Minutes" ,The History Channel, and in most major newspapers. He always speaks fondly of his hometown.  As the museum nears its opening, we can let Lonnie know how proud we are of him by donating to a special BHS Class of 1970 fund which the museum has established to be used for education programs once the museum opens.  I hope you will join me by giving what you can.

More about Belleville 

The New Motorcycle Mall and more...

The Motorcycle Mall has finished its new building on Washington Avenue. Family Dollar has taken and renovated the old Bigelow Motors property. Shop Rite has come back to Belleville. Its new store opened in 2013 and has become a cornerstone business in  our community. Dollar General has taken over and renovated the old Branch Brook Manor site. The old Jergen's / Roche  Property will soon have a new WAWA this year and other tax paying tennants.  

COAH Update:   Belleville has taken the position supported by David Kinsey (Rutgers Law Review), that we are a fully developed community and have met our requirements for low income housing.  We have proposed an alternative to low income housing in our latest filing with the Courts. We are requesting approval for what is known as a local housing rehabilitation program to meet any possible growth share.  This program would create a trust fund that can be used to help those with qualifying incomes rehabilitate their homes in Belleville. Should development occur, the funding for this program would come from the developments / developer, not the taxpayer.

Housing for Seniors has arrived in Belleville

 

Phase 1 opened in 2016     Phase 2 is on its way.

 

It has been a long time coming but, Housing for Seniors is finally coming to Belleville.  It has taken us 10 years, but it is a reality.  One of my first promises to Belleville Seniors was that we would have housing available for those seniors with  limited incomes, wishing to stay in their beloved Township  of Belleville. This housing will be available to residents 55 and older with a moderate income restriction.  Since most residents at age 55 will most likely exceed the income threshold, we believe that the average age of residents will be over 65 years of age.

 

 

The Roche Property, once the home of Jurgens Products, has been sold. The commercial development on that property is now giving us  more revenue than ever before with minimal impact on our Township infrastructure.  

 

SOHO update

 

Renovations are continuing on the old  Essex County "Isolation Hospital" building. This was the same Art Deco building that was used in the making of the Russell Crowe / Ron Howard  movie  "A Beautiful Mind" . The new owners are preserving this beautiful building. We look forward to its completion and  the additional tax revenue it will generate for our community.

Washington Avenue Lighting Project.

Recently, the Township completed the installation of new lighting on Washington Avenue. This was the first part of The Council's efforts to enhance the aesthetics of  Washington Avenue. We are working with the State on a paving project for the "Avenue" to be implemented over the next few years. Our goal is to make Washington Avenue a more viable retail district by implementing these elements as part of our Safer Streets initiative.

Tax Update 

We are trying to keep taxes at a reasonable level.  The difficulty has been the rising costs of Energy, Healthcare and Pension Expenses. It looks like energy costs are starting to level off which will hopefully have a positive impact on our expenses.  However, This will  be an ongoing challenge for the Council. We must continue to keep expenses in check. We have asked that the new Manager and Department heads to find additional ways to help cut costs and reduce expenses.

Better Communications with our residents

 

New Website

 

Most of us work between 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM. Getting information from Town Hall has always been challenging. The Township's web site ( www.bellevillenj.org ) has gone through another major facelift. New functionality including on line payments has been added to better serve our community. Please take a look at the new look and feel of the site. We want this site to be the after-hours extension of the Town Hall. It will allow access to information, forms, and permits 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.

 

Enhanced Reverse 911

 

The Council has implemented the Second Phase of the  Reverse 911 Community Alert System. This allows us to quickly broadcast critical or emergency information to the entire community as well as targeted areas through the telephone system. Please visit our website www.Bellevillenj.org  to stay up with current developments and register for email notifications. Our hope is to implement additional capabilities  in the near future .

 

Police ,Fire, and DPW Communications Updates

 

We have updated our internal mobile communications network for Police, Fire and DPW to operate in compliance with Federal Guidelines. We are also working with State and Federal officials to implement a Federal First Responders Mobile Communication Network. This will be the first such system in the United States.We have ordered and received, a new Fire Truck, Ambulance and several Police SUV. 

Infrastructure and Recreation updates continue with completion of a number of streets in 2020.  There is still a lot of work to be done. However, economic conditions dictate that we focus on essential services and emergency projects. As part of our five year plan, much of the municipal infrastructure that had been ignored for a long time was repaired and updated. The Police Communications Center and Little League Field are complete.  The updates to the Varsity Baseball Field (new concession stand with bathrooms), "Rec House" (new bathrooms, summer water sprinkler for the kids) and Municipal Stadium Complex are 99% complete. Replacement of the Varsity Football Field with a state of the art drainage and synthetic turf surface has also been completed. Both bathrooms at the Senior Center have been renovated.


Our Health Department has been re-organized. They continue to deliver exemplary services to our residents. We now share
services with Montclair to reduce the overall cost of our Health Department operating expenses.

We continue to work on Human Resource issues within the Township. Updated policies and procedures have been put in place including an employee manual with a drug testing policy. This will enhance municipal services as well as protect the municipal workplace. This is in an effort to deliver better, more timely services to our community while creating a safer work environment.

The building is  complete in Essex Park on Franklin Avenue. This development received an award for Best New Development in New Jersey in  2007.  Many of us still feel that we need to keep building density  around 12 units per acre. There are updates to our Zoning Ordinance which should help keep most of our Township within that goal.

In April of 2011, the Council created a "GREEN TEAM" Committee which is focused on urban environmental sustainability.  This year we have received several grants to update our parks.  We  will continue identifying and implementing real world  solutions to enhance our community such as;

  • Open space and public land updates

  • Alternate energy sources and suppliers

  • Energy savings strategies

  • Mitigation of storm water problems

  • Decreased carbon footprint

  • Paperless office options to reduce paper usage

  • Enhanced recycling programs

 

2008 Steven J. Rovell. All rights reserved.