The Newton Renaissance Continued
Friday, July 13, 2012 • 9:49pm
NEWTON, NJ – Some of the faces on the Town of Newton Town Council may have changed on July 2, with the reorganization and swearing in of a new mayor and deputy mayor; and the return of one councilperson, and addition of a completely new councilperson.
Yet the new administration, like the one just prior under former Mayor Helen Le Frois, still has similar goals and visions in mind.
“I wish the council the best of luck, and look forward to seeing their projects come to full fruition,” Le Frois told The Alternative Press.
Le Frois said she hopes to be back volunteering her time with the town soon, and as a resident, will continue to support the council’s plans for the town.
As Le Frois left, she received well wishes from a number of her colleagues.
“On behalf of all Newton employees, professionals, and volunteers, I want to thank former Mayor Le Frois for her service on the town council and to our community,” said Thomas S. Russo, Jr., Town Manager. “Her leadership, dedication, and commitment to excellence will surely be missed.”
“I will miss Helen, as she was a person who was devoted to serving the citizens of Newton,” incoming Mayor Sandra Diglio said of Le Frois. “Helen, thank you for being my mentor and I wish you the best in your future endeavors.”
Councilman Joseph Ricciardo has now stepped up to the position of deputy mayor. Councilwoman Kristen Becker was elected to another term, and, Councilman Daniel Flynn has joined the council for the first time.
For Diglio, becoming mayor has become a full-circle event.
“I consider it a great honor to be able to serve the town,” she said.
Her husband Philip J. Diglio served the community as a councilman for 16 years, taking over the roles of deputy mayor and mayor, before retiring due to illness in 2008, to which he succumbed in 2009.
Diglio now follows in her husband’s footsteps, now having served in all three positions as well.
“Many of you will remember him as someone who was always willing to listen,” Diglio said. “Well, I listened to him and ran for council, and I thank the residents of Newton for electing me to office, and providing me the opportunity to serve them.”
Diglio acknowledged town employees and volunteers for their service. She is a member of the Newton First Aid Squad. She thanked the squad and the fire department.
“Without them [volunteers] we would not be working well as a town,” Diglio said.
Diglio recognized the renaissance efforts happening in town.
“During the past few years, the town has been experiencing a revitalization, this is an exciting time,” she said. “The Newton Theatre opened last September, and there have been many wonderful shows. The world headquarters of Thorlabs celebrated its grand opening. These two businesses are wonderful assets to our community. Several stores have also opened and Newton has become a home to both a winter and summer Farmers’ Market. Other improvements on Spring Street included iupgraded parking lots, wayfinding signs, benches, and bike racks. For better protection, the police have installed cameras on Spring Street (click here to read the story in The Alternative Press), a new surveillance system at Town Hall, and now have a new solar-powered message board. The alleyways have been paved and lighting installed to improve safety.”
Some other points Diglio touched on in terms of revitalization included: the tax abatement program in the historic district, updates of land use ordinances, the environmental work at the armory with plans for the town to purchase the building, additional redevelopment projects (Paterson Avenue and Martorana Projects), work done by the DPW and Water and Sewer workers, solar panels at the water treatment plant, DPW, Newton High School, and Merriam Avenue School, and more shared services.
Diglio would also like to see a community center come to fruition.
“I’m looking forward to my year as mayor,” Diglio said, and reiterated. “No one does it alone. We serve as a unit.”
She referred to the council working together governed by the Faulkner Act, with the council and manager team.
“I would be remiss not to mention Tom Russo, he’s doing an excellent job,” Diglio said. “He checks his facts and does his homework. I appreciate that.”
Along with Diglio, the other members of the council are looking forward to some projects ahead with the town.
“I’m excited about the work that needs to be done, and was left by the previous council, they’ve all done a great job, I’m looking forward to it wholeheartedly,” said Flynn.
“Helen [Le Frois] especially will be missed,” he added.
Flynn hopes to see Sussex County Community College have a more integrated presence within Downtown Newton.
“Their [the students] presence is missed on Spring Street and Main Street,” Flynn said. “The downtown should be in more collaboration with the college.”
Becker said, “We’re still a very cohesive council.”
She is looking forward to redevelopment projects, and increasing technology within the town, in order for a more user-friendly experience for residents.
Ricciardo said he would like the council to continue to work on projects as they were, and looks forward to the finalization of the armory project.
Councilman Kevin Elvidge would also like to see the redevelopment of the armory, and a senior citizens center come to reality. He would like to see the beautification continue on Spring Street, and to revisit the town’s vision plan.