Woodland Park, NJ

Borough of Woodland Park

Tracy Kallert, Mayor


1/25/2024 - Mayor Kallert's "State of The Borough" Address



5 Brophy Lane | Woodland Park, NJ 07424 | 973.345.8100


January 25, 2024


The following is the transcript of Mayor Kallert's "State of The Borough" address given at the January 24, 2024 Borough Council meeting:


Good evening. Tonight, I am proud to share with you our Woodland Park State of the borough.

In 2023, the borough was presented with many great opportunities but it was also not without its challenges. It took true teamwork and collaboration to make it through, but we did it together.

This year, I had the honor of becoming the acting mayor and then your elected mayor, a position I am truly grateful and humbled to hold.

Our council members Christine Tiseo, Mike Sica, and Sam Yodice were sworn in and joined our veterans Tina Gatti and Vince DeCesare. They hit the ground running and led their committees professionally and efficiently ensuring that diligence and cooperation remained key factors in the progress of the borough.

In October, Councilman Sam Yodice took on the role of business administrator after being unanimously selected. This decision has proven to be one of our finest.

Subsequently, we welcomed back Councilman Chaabane and we thank him for his continued commitment to serve Woodland Park. Taking on the role of mayor left a vacancy in my council seat. I was thrilled when Mr. Ron Arnau accepted the position, thus rounding out an incredibly engaged and dedicated team.

Woodland Park could not progress without its partnership with Millennium Strategies, which has proved to be a huge financial success. In 2023, Woodland Park was awarded $1,017,682 in grants. This money was used to reduce police overtime costs, make substantial improvements to our parks, and make much-needed improvements to infrastructure including sewer and water lines, the Brophy Lane improvement project, and the Browertown Road streetscape, just to name a few.

We are one month into the New Year and I am excited to announce we currently are awaiting notification of an additional $920,508.46 in grant monies that we have applied for.

I would like to express our sincere gratitude to the Passaic County Commissioners, who have always generously supported Woodland Park and our initiatives to keep the borough a community where families not only live but thrive with their financial aid.

It was my wish to bring the residents a thorough and comprehensive report so I thought it only fitting to reach out to our outstanding department heads and staff and hear directly from them the accomplishments they are most proud of and their goals for the coming year. The pride they take in their work and their accomplishments is what sets Woodland Park above other municipalities.

Police Chief John Uzzalino reported this past year the police department purchased a Ford F-150 pick-up truck to aid in moving emergency equipment around during critical incidents. They hired two new full-time police officers and  reinstated the Class 2 Special program with the addition of two more officers. The department hired two more Special Class 3 officers to bring our total to five, which keeps an officer in each of our school buildings to ensure our children and staff remain safe while we place a priority on their education.

The department has completed the transition to the State Digital P-25 radio system, which broadened its radio transmission capability and upgraded its body-worn camera system to AXON.

For 2024, they have pledged to remain vigilant about the safety and security of  our residents and our community. The department looks forward to maintaining its great relationship with the mayor and council, a vision we share as well. They are actively looking to implement new programs for the safety and well-being of the community.

With the new implementation of police licensing, the department will strive to have officers trained above and beyond the standards given by state mandates.

They are excited to keep their commitment to more interaction with the residents through community outreach. Their commitment to do more is admirable as they are already a staple at all events Woodland Park hosts including our fishing derby, Woodland Park Day, health fair, holiday festival, trunk or treat, summer camp, and much more. They are a cornerstone of this great community and we look forward to working with them in the coming year.

Fire Chief Paul Salomone is proud to report that the fire department is committed to the borough, its residents, and their safety. They once again have a well-planned training schedule for their membership to maintain their professionalism and skill level.

They have had a very successful recruitment program over the past few years and they intend to train their new members with the knowledge of their more  experienced members.

One of the department’s goals is to reach out to the younger children in grammar school and high school, they believe the fire department can make a positive impact on them, and possibly have them become members and continue the volunteerism within the community in the future.  

They will, as always, continue to work with our police and EMS and look forward to an even better holiday parade this year, though I’m not sure that is even possible after the last event. When it comes to our fire department, they continue to amaze me.

Chief Salomone has assured us that any assistance the mayor and council need they will always be there for us and the community and we are incredibly lucky to have them.

Our Department of Public Works Superintendent John Pietrowski is proud of his department and what they have accomplished this year. He reports that in 2023, the DPW completed several projects that they believe will improve the experience that residents have come to expect.

The Peckman River Pump Station was brought online, which removed a wastewater transmission pipe that was installed in the stream bed of the Peckman River. They elevated the pipe to above the roadway. Relocating this pipe had an immediate impact on the day-to-day levels of the Peckman River, and should help improve the capacity of the river. This improvement is a major step in our commitment to mitigating flooding for our residents in flood-prone areas.

The DPW replaced over 750 feet of problematic water main on Maple Avenue, including new curbing and paving. We are nearing completion of Phase 1 on the Browertown Streetscape Project, including the addition of a crosswalk near Andrews Drive that will improve public safety.


Through cooperation with PSE&G, the DPW removed several potentially hazardous trees along borough roadways. They also trimmed and/or removed a large number of potentially hazardous trees in our parks and public spaces.

In Zaccaria Park, they installed two new sun shelters and paved the roadway going down to the field, thus completing the initial design improvements around the turf soccer field.

In 2024, improvements within the borough will continue to be a priority.

The DPW will be installing no less than seven new valves on water mains within our water system. This will allow for better-controlled shutdowns, in case of emergency, thereby fewer residents will be impacted by water main breaks.

They are expecting to replace the 35-year-old roof over the Department of Public Works building, a much-needed repair.

The borough expects to complete the updates at Thomas May Park, including a new border around the newly poured rubberized surface, new equipment, and grounds maintenance.

In the first half of the year, we expect to take delivery of a new Tymco street sweeper. This will not only allow us to keep the streets free of debris, but also clean out the borough's stormwater infrastructure.

The DPW remains committed to continuously monitoring and maintaining our culverts, catch basins, and waterways to make sure they are clear of any debris and the flow is uninterrupted.

We as a borough are grateful for their hard work and attention to detail with regard to our meticulously landscaped and maintained parks and public areas as well as their expertise in making our community a winter wonderland during the holiday season.


Our municipal building is getting a new look as we implement new technological advances thanks to Adam Nemeth, our technology officer. We are receiving tremendous feedback on our new digital signage. We replaced antiquated and inefficient telephone and internet systems and added new services, which will be more effective and provide significant cost savings. We are making upgrades to our security cameras in our parks and other areas which will add to the security and capability of our data network and infrastructure.

We have plans for major advances with regard to our website and other platforms that we are actively working on and are super excited to bring you.

Through the diligence of our tax and water department, led by Bernadette Lawler, we are proud to report that in 2023 the borough:

  • Collected 99.38% of property taxes
  • Collected 98% of water bills
  • Identified 68 water leaks within the billing cycles and notified the residents to address the plumbing issues to avoid high water bills.
  • Continued to provide the highest customer service to support all property owners.
  • Provided seamless communication and processing of the initiatives of the Treasury Department and the Division of Community Affairs as it relates to property taxes and utility payment resources for those who are struggling. Including the Property Tax Freeze program, Anchor program, and Division of Community Affairs LIHWAP assistance for delinquent utility payment support.
  • Streamlined the CO process for water meter compliance for property sales and rentals to be managed under one roof making the process easier for the residents, attorneys and realtors.
  • Migrated a seamless process to support the tax assessors office to meet the publics needs.


In 2024, the tax and water department has set the following goals to deliver the finest service to our residents.

  • Continue to work with the highest level of respect for the public and co-workers to raise morale within our municipality.
  • Continue to work alongside the DPW utilizing the Beacon software, identifying potential plumbing leaks to help the resident avoid massive water bills.
  • Continue to manage and monitor water meter replacement to allow the process of meter readings to become fully automated.

By providing these resources to the community, the department is making good on its promise to deliver excellent service and communication daily to our residents.

This administration has put in long hours making progress with regard to our affordable housing obligations. But, we still have much work to do. In conjunction with our COAH initiative, we are forming a committee to update our master plan.

We are proud to report the borough has been issued a AA bond rating and has been upgraded from a negative to a stable outlook.

There has been much interest in our vacant retail properties, many of which are currently in the design phase. We anticipate these spaces will be occupied by the end of the year. Our residential properties continued to be improved upon at a steady rate.

The Alfred Baumann Public Library has been busier than ever providing resources and activities for our residents, proving what we have always known: a library is more than just a building, it is the heartbeat of a community. We thank Linda Hoffman and her staff for reassuring us of that daily.

We can all agree the number one goal for our library is to secure a successful bid for our reconstruction project and commence construction as soon as possible.

The Library Board of Trustees, borough administration, and library director worked collaboratively to finalize plans for the library's addition and renovation.

In light of the current climate and rising costs of construction, the bids for the library construction project came in too high. The building and grounds committee, library director, and borough administrator, along with our construction professionals, are working diligently to revise the current plans to go back out to bid and we anxiously await a favorable outcome.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to outgoing Library Board Trustees Mary Holloway and Ron Arnau. Their dedicated years of service to the library and community have left a lasting impact, and we wish them well in their future endeavors. Additionally, we are delighted to welcome Christine Tarbox-Murphy and Melanie Holmes to the library board. We are confident that their valuable insights will greatly contribute to the board's continued success.

In 2024, residents will have more access to library outreach programs and can anticipate more enhanced programming such as art and cooking classes for children, teens, and adults. Additionally, the library will provide Increased delivery service to homebound patrons and continue its partnerships with community organizations and businesses.

The library staff is excited about hosting a book club with the mayor this summer. But I think I’m more excited! Reading is my passion and I am looking forward to sharing this passion with the residents.  

The Friends of the Library in 2023 ran three successful fundraisers. Funds were distributed to the construction fund and museum pass program. They assisted with the relocation to Berkeley College and mentored neighboring libraries with plans to start their own friend groups.

In 2024, the Friends of the Library aim to continue to sponsor fundraisers, organize trips to cultural venues, and increase its membership. 

The library and Friends of the Library appreciate and value the ongoing support from the mayor and council and look forward to another year of proudly serving our residents.

 All of these reports share a common theme: unity and teamwork. Speaking of teamwork, I am so proud of the partnership we have with Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michele Pillari and the Board of Education.

December and January were in a word, crazy, and brought forth unprecedented back-to-back storms causing major flooding. 

Dr. Pillari’s initiative to reach out to the county and gain permission for the students to transition to virtual learning was the first of its kind. She impressed upon the county her commitment to making sure education remained a priority and the detriment closing schools would have on our children. Her advocacy on their behalf was inspiring.

To our residents who experienced the weeks of flooding and tireless monitoring of your homes and sump pumps and the clean-up that followed, your resilience, strength, and character are remarkable. To our police, fire, first aid and DPW, thank you will never be enough for all you do for us. But know we are grateful.

While thus far I have reported all of the wonderful things taking place in Woodland Park, I do expect some challenges in 2024.

We are actively working on the 2024 budget with the guidance of our CFO Heather Barkenbush. It has always been our goal to provide Woodland Park with the finest services available while still being cognizant of the financial stresses of our residents. Our team is committed to working hard to make fiscal responsibility a priority with regard to this year’s budget. We will be critical of all budgets within the departments and make the necessary changes to keep our budget stable.

We were both saddened and surprised to learn the Bank of New York has decided to sell its property on Rifle Camp Road. We had been engaged in conversations with them for some time about the future of the property and they gave no indication they would be leaving, rather the opposite. While we cannot prevent development in that area, the council, our professionals, and I are committed to doing everything possible to minimize the overdevelopment of Woodland Park and the overtaxing of our borough resources. This has been a priority since we first learned of this decision and it will continue to be a priority going forward.

This administration makes transparency and communication with the residents a top priority. To all of you who have utilized the Mayor’s Action Canter, thank you for your questions, your comments, and your feedback.

We agree it is an awesome resource and it works. To those of you who havent tried it yet please reach out for any issue big or small. The link is on our home website page at wpnj.us. We are here to serve our residents and the borough.

In closing on a personal note, I wish to thank the employees and professionals for accepting me as a part of your team so readily. It is such a pleasure watching you interact and collaborate with each other and the residents. Your respect for each other is admirable and to be commended. And to the residents of Woodland Park, thank you for the trust you placed in me and my ability to lead our wonderful community. I promise you I will always respect the office I hold and the people I serve.

May God bless each of you and may God bless Woodland Park.


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