JACKSON – The township recently completed an interesting year filled with change, settling old lawsuits, finalizing a major recreation plan and expanding various municipal services but Township Mayor Michael Reina said more positive things are coming in 2024.
In an interview with The Jackson Times, the mayor said, “we have to move forward, one of the reasons I chose that slogan (during his 2022 re-election campaign) was that no matter what, we have to move forward. We did what we had to do and 2022 is over and what walled off into 2023 didn’t let that stop us from making the town a better place to live.”
“In 2024 we’re going to make it even better for everyone,” the mayor added. He noted a number of enhancements to public safety such as a motorcycle unit and the reformation of a K-9 unit for the township police department. “These are all facets for public safety that I believe will enhance Jackson’s police department to the next level.”
Mayor Reina added, “we’ve always been concerned with that (public safety). We made sure the funding was in place. There is a lot of good stuff going on.”
Looking back to 2023, the mayor reflected on last spring’s tornados that touched down in several places in town, and thanked the township personnel who responded. It was also a year with disagreements between the all-Republican Township Council members. On the positive side, there was also continued progress with land preservation and recreational plans for the Rova Farm property.
“In 2023, I think everybody turned a new leaf, meaning regardless of disappointments or not what you thought was going to happen politically, I think the town still benefitted from it because instead of what some people viewed as divisions or a divide, no matter what, things got done,” Reina said.
The mayor said, “lawsuits are being settled. A lot of good has come out of it and through it all we have done a lot of good stuff in lieu of all these so-called issues. Who’s not talking to this one and personal business aside – we have business to do and you can’t let that get in the way of the work. The oath you have taken is to serve all whether they supported you or not.”
“That is something we take pride in,” Mayor Reina added. “Right now, the township financially is in great shape. Once these lawsuits are settled, which they basically are, you look forward – you don’t look behind you – we are going to make this town a little more friendly on the outside. People think there is all this division between new residents and old residents, it’s not like that.”
“You speak to people on the street, they aren’t the people who come to the microphone (at Township Council meeting public comment periods) unfortunately. It is usually the same people who turn around and tell you that we have problems with this we have problems with that and no, you are not involved in the way you think you are.”
“Social media, you see how that rolls whenever you read that and say ‘I read it on social media.’ Well that’s not true,” he added.
Mayor Reina said the township is still looking at acquiring more open space land. “We did a land swap and were able to move things into areas that were better suited, warehousing for instance. People looking into bringing in warehouses and now they are seeing the big picture. Warehouses do not work well with school buses.”
“We are doing more with our senior services. We put most of our permits and everything you do are online now. We’ve come into the 21st century with the programing. We are more in touch with the public than ever before. The stream of information that we provide on our website and to our offices and departments has never been clearer or easier to navigate,” the mayor added.
Mayor Reina said, “we have all these measures in place to make it easier to get information and to have things done. We are looking at the Department of Public Works and looking to expand that. Currently there is a study underway with all our buildings to see whether or not we can make them larger, expand them or basically tear them down and build a bigger building where it will be one-stop shopping.”
The mayor also touched on public recreation with the Rova Farms property that will be christened in the spring and enhancements to Rova Park that “will give the public more places to enjoy. Hopefully we will see something with the hotels by Great Adventure. All our fields have been rejuvenated and they all had brand new turf installed”
“On a positive side. I think we are growing quicker, more efficient than ever before and more user friendly. The positivity in Jackson is a lot more than people will give it credit for because of some of the things on social media and that is why we always say, you want to come to a meeting and ask a question that is fine or give us a call reach out to us and set up a meeting with me or the administrator (Terence Wall) or both and we could introduce you to a department head who could answer all your questions,” the mayor added.
“Get the information right from the source. Everything we do is citizen oriented. There is nothing for us to hide from. I think we have the best of the best considering the size of the town. We are even getting complimented on leaf collection. We still have to deal with the pending snow storms that are predicted but we are 100 square miles,” he noted.
Mayor Reina said, “we saw a drastic change post Covid, people don’t want to get in a large setting anymore as far as some of the Board meetings that we have, they would rather either Zoom it or just collect electronic correspondence.”
“I tell this to the public all the time, you don’t have to wait for a meeting to get an answer, our e-mails and office phone numbers are published. We are an accessible government. You want a meeting with the mayor, administrator or council member I assure you no one will reject that,” the mayor said.