Mayor’s State of the City address outlines priorities for 2012

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Mayor Ed Mahaney delivers his State of the City address at the Jan. 1 reorganization meeting of Cape May City Council. Mayor Ed Mahaney delivers his State of the City address at the Jan. 1 reorganization meeting of Cape May City Council. (Ellen Pfeifle)

CAPE MAY – Mayor Ed Mahaney touted the city’s accomplishments over the past year and set out the milestones he expects to pass in 2012 in his annual address at the city’s reorganization on Jan. 1.

The gavel fell to open the lightly attended meeting at noon, accompanied by the church bells from Our Lady Star of the Sea marking the hour. City hall’s front doors were propped open, welcoming the public and the 50 degree temperatures.

The watchword for Mahaney, whose address came just six months after the last State of the City summary, was “sustainability.”

“In the case of Cape May, sustainability must be defined in the broadest sense of the term: our strategies will allow us to sustain economic growth, sustain the city’s infrastructure to assist in providing the programs and services that our residents expect and demand, sustain exemplary environmental stewardship, and sustain affordability of the city for our residents,” said Mahaney.

The six month interval between this address and the last is a result of the municipality’s transition to a concurrent calendar and fiscal year. Mahaney delivered the last address on July 1.

Mahaney set out a laundry list of goals for 2012, with water conservation and infrastructure maintenance high on the list. Cape May runs the only water desalination plant in New Jersey – providing 2 million of the city’s maximum 3.4 million gallon daily requirement, he said.

That plant “…currently produces 60 percent of the potable water used daily on a year round basis in Cape May City, the boroughs of Cape May Point and West Cape May, and the U.S. Coast Guard base,” said Mahaney.

In the coming year, local government will assess the desalination plant’s physical and operational conditions and to plan for long term maintenance and improvements, he added.

To further conserve fresh water resources, the city will install water meters with “encoded registers and radio frequency automatic meter reading and leak detection for all 3,889 accounts,” said the mayor, who assured that the leak detection features “should ensure more timely identification of unknown leaks and thus conserve water.”

Regarding the city’s $10.5 million Convention Hall project, Mahaney reported that the construction remains on schedule and within budget.

“The Convention Hall is to be ‘substantially completed’ by April 13, 2012,” Mahaney said.

The Hall will host three smaller events, including an open house for all city taxpayers, prior to the slated gala grand opening event on Saturday, May 26, featuring Phil Nero and the Philadelphia Pops.

The open house for city taxpayers is offered “to express gratitude for the taxpayers’ support for this economic development project that will surely benefit all of our residents, business people, and visitors for years to come,” said Mahaney.

The installation of the windows and total enclosure of the building is expected to be completed by the end of the month, he said.

Voters here approved the $10.5 million for the project by referendum in 2008. The construction project is set at $7.5 million.

Last October, the council approved two change orders to the work specifications, granting nearly $130,000 not anticipated in original expenses. At that time, Mahaney explained that an undisclosed percentage of the construction budget had been blocked out for such unforeseen costs.

Jack Wichterman is sworn in for another term as deputy mayor. Jack Wichterman is sworn in for another term as deputy mayor.(Ellen Pfeifle)

 Construction progress at Convention Hall Construction progress at Convention Hall (Ellen Pfeifle)

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