"Township Business Administrator Wayne Bradley and I had put in a lot of work with the New York firm for what'll go on the Irvington General site," said Smith before a Township Council Chamber gallery audience of 65 and the Irvington TV34 public access television camera Tuesday night. "Keep in mind that the hospital never paid a dime to the township and there was no PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) in place."
Smith referred to an artist's rendering of the "Hilltop Renewal Development" at least three times during his 40-minute annual address. The rendering of the Chancellor Avenue elevation features three separate residential apartment towers - respectively 28, 13 and 23 stories tall going westbound or uphill towards Chancellor Avenue School.
The drawing was courtesy of Thomas Balsley Architects plus partners E2PM and EE&K - a Perkins-Eastman Company. The project is the latest attempt to spur economic development in the IGH neighborhood since parent company St. Barnabas closed the medical center.
Smith also declared that an academic afterschool program under the department of recreation will continue after its original funding runs out on Jan. 1. Smith said that alternative funding sources will be found.
"We want to continue the program since it works with (Irvington Public) Schools Superintendent Dr. Neely Hackett's goal for improving academic performance," said Smith. "To do that, I'm asking retired teachers to come out and mentor our students."
Bolstering volunteerism, indeed, was one of Smith's recurring themes. The theme was emphasized by a PowerPoint computer slide graphic of eight multicolored hands surrounding the township seal.
"The mayor nor the council can do it all alone," said Smith. "It takes all of us together to reach our goals."
Smith also made an appeal for any qualified people to become Director of Neighborhood Services. The mayor has doubled as department director since Marty Mays left to become Orange's Public Works Director/Engineer and Planning & Economic Development head.
"I'm looking for someone who has experience being a department head," said Smith. "If you know someone, bring his or her resume to my attention."
Smith's 2013 State of the Township Address asked itself the following questions in looking behind and ahead: "Why Me? Why You? Why Us? Why Now?"
Smith, through the 16 slides developed by Kean University Masters of Public Administration undergraduate and mayoral intern Joseph Day, answered each question. He started with a brief review of his coming on the council in 1996 and becoming mayor in 2002.
"I became Irvington's 20th mayor in 2002 and am the first to be elected to three straight terms," said Smith. "Since 2002, we've been able to lower violent crime and brought new commercial and residential projects to the township."
Smith is technically Irvington's 20th mayor but 16th person to hold the post since the village turned to township mayor-council government in 1895. Two of the early mayors held two non-consecutive terms between 1895 and 1924.
"Our crime rate has dropped overall, although there has been an uptick this year, since Police director Joseph Santiago came aboard in 2008," said Smith. "I know that if you were mugged, you'd call me a liar - crime's a personal business. The statistics comes from the (State Attorney General's) Uniform Crime Report."
Concerning development, Smith also pointed to the continuing development of the old Valley Fair/Great Eastern department store by Interstate 78.
"People from New York are looking at Irvington," said Smith. "They can drive or get a ride within 20 minutes. There's the airport, 78, the Garden State Parkway - all centrally located here."