Smith made his comments to about 60 members of the Bayonne Chamber of Commerce at The Chandelier Restaurant at 53rd Street and Broadway on April 22.
“The state of the city is excellent,” Smith said, “and I think you can all attest to that. There’s a certain vibrancy.”
Pointing outside the window, Smith talked about the new retail and residential development in town, including a new Walgreen’s pharmacy directly across the street.
“That’s because five years ago we began with a plan,” the mayor continued. “There are projects under way all across our city. Projects are gearing up. I can attest to it.”
Smith discussed the project proposals for The Peninsula at Harbor South, the resurrected Hi-Hat property initiative, Camelot Luxury Apartments, and the Silklofts renovation of the old Maidenform factory, among others.
The mayor also touted what he said were his administration’s accomplishments over the past several years, including reducing by more than 40 percent the $400 million in debt he inherited when taking office “to pay for the sins of the past.”
“We hit the ground running three days later,” he said. “We knew we had to work quickly.”
Smith also talked about his administration streamlining local government from nine departments to four, and doing so without any layoffs.
“But we never once, never once, sacrificed municipal services,” he said. “That was an idea that never crossed our minds.”
Smith said the resulting city government was the leanest in years, going back to the 1990s.
“The men and women of Bayonne responded admirably and got the job done,” he said.
Smith said that now the programs and practices he put into place are bearing fruit, mentioning NJ Biz magazine’s proclamation that the city was one of the top places to live and do business in over the next several years.
The revitalization of the city’s longtime Broadway shopping district is another of the city’s priorities, beginning with the recently announced medical facility proposal for the block between 23rd and 24th streets.
City recreation improvements are also high on the agenda for the Smith administration with the recently announced upgrades to Don Ahern Veterans Stadium, which will include enhanced football and baseball fields, as well as new lighting.
“It’s going to be absolutely magnificent,” the mayor said.
The funding for the project came from the “cobbling together” of insurance monies, state grants, and private donations.
The mayor also mentioned upcoming projects that improve the New Jersey Turnpike extension and Bayonne Exit 14A.
Future looks bright
Smith said the city was moving ahead and that he was excited about its future.
“It’s demonstrable. You can see it,” he said. “Bayonne is on the cusp of the last of the Gold Coast in Hudson County. The best is yet to come. We have a lot to look forward to.”
Breakfast sponsors included Bayonne Community Bank, CarePoint Health, and Public Service Electric & Gas.
Joseph Passantino may be reached at: JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.