Mayor Shing-Fu Hsueh Farewell Speech
West Windsor Township Mayor, Shing-Fu Hsueh Farewell Speech
Dec 11, 2017 – West Windsor Town Hall, New Jersey
By: Shing-Fu Hsueh, Ph.D., P.E., P.P.
Mayor, West Windsor Township
December 11, 2017
First, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all West Windsor residents for giving me the opportunity to serve this community we all love for 25 years. Special thanks go to those who have supported me and voted for me over the years. More importantly, I want to thank our many volunteers. I would also like to thank the municipal staff, who are both talented and dedicated, and who supported my vision for West Windsor Township during my tenure as mayor.
It has been my honor to serve as Mayor of West Windsor for these last 16 and halfyears. As a new resident moving to West Windsor in December 1985, I immediately volunteered to serve my community. I began as a member of the Board of Health and later, served on the Environmental Commission before being elected to Council in 1993.
When I first ran for Mayor in 2001, I promised you that integration and connection for West Windsor was my goal – a clearer sense of community and a sense of place. Specifically, I proposed a Farmers Market; preservation of West Windsor’s agricultural heritage; an Arts Center; a History Museum; a general “complete street”concept for bicycle and pedestrian friendly roadway design; infrastructure improvements to upgrade and improve the traffic circulation; an efficient and effective government; an expanded senior center with the best programs for the Township’s retirees; and parks providing the best recreational facilities for residents of all ages. All of this I worked to accomplish, while maintaining atriple-A bond rating, controlled growth, and a stable and predictable property tax system despite changing NJ State policies and mandates.
As you can see from my years of service as your mayor, my accomplishments and infrastructure improvements have been in support of these goals. Together, with your support and participation, I have been successful.In 2009, West Windsor was named by AOL Neighborhood Scoutas“the most family-friendly neighborhood to raise kids in New Jersey;” West Windsor was the first town in New Jersey recognized by the National League of American Bicyclists with a bronze level award as a Bicycle Friendly Community.In 2017, Business Insider selected West Windsor “the best city in New Jersey if you want to buy a home;” NJ Family Magazine selected West Windsor “the best town in Mercer County” in 2017;and in 2017, West Windsor is included in New Jersey Politics, September, 2017 issue, entitled, “these towns are the property tax bargains in each of NJ’s 21 counties.”
Eight recreational parks with well-maintained facilities,West Windsor Community Farmers Market, West Windsor Arts Center, the History Museum and Environmental Education Center at the Schenck Farmstead, and more than 50% of the Township preserved as open space providing passive and/or active recreation -all these are places where we can enjoy and meet with our neighbors.
The first Trolley Line Trailbecame the first in the State using a PSE&G easement, the Pigtown Bridge, the Alexander Railroad Bridge reconstruction, the Grover’s Mill Pond clean-up, the Meadow Road realignment and Canal Pointe Boulevard reconstruction, an additional 600-car parking lot with a pathway to the train station;the majority of these infrastructure improvements were completed with much of their budgetsfunded from non-tax sources. These projects haveexemplified what a local government can doas we plan for our future infrastructure improvements.
I am very proud of what we have accomplished. And this community remains the same community I have served since July 1, 1993– a community of diversity in terms of age, ethnicity, and economic status.
There are other projects that have already been committed to by the State, County and private sectors that will be started in the foreseeable future. Hopefully, the new administration and Council will continue to follow through to ensure their full completion. These projects include:
- Redevelopment of the Princeton Junction neighborhood –All outstanding legal issues associated with the plan approved in 2011 will be resolved in the next few months. Major redevelopment projects for the Ellsworth Shopping Village andInterCap Holding (Avalon) sites are expected to get started soon after.These projects will help to create the environment thatmillennials in New Jersey are looking to live in.
- Route One improvements –After decades of negotiation, we have come to an agreement with all neighboring Townships, Princeton University, and NJDOT on a concept design focusing on the segment around the Washington Road intersection that will include bicycle and pedestrian friendly features as well as safety improvements for motorists. NJDOT will include this as their priority projectin 2018.
- Edinburg Road and Old Trenton Road Intersection improvements – This will be a priority project under Mercer County’s jurisdiction for 2018, working with West Windsor to resolve the traffic congestion in this area.
- Reconstruction of Route 571 between Cranbury Road and Clarksville Road – This will include a complete streets design and will require purchase of additional property needed to create the long awaited downtown area. Mercer County isworking with West Windsor in preparation for the 2019 reconstruction under the County’s jurisdiction.
- Commitments from the County to reconstruct two bridges –The Cranbury Road Bridge over the Millstone River and the Old Trenton Road Bridge over the Bride-Groom Run. Once we have these two bridges completed, we can claim thatall bridges in West Windsor, will meet 100% of the public safety standards.
- Work with Princeton, County and the State to reconstruct the two Alexander Road Bridges over the border waters(D&R Canal and Stony Brook) into Princeton.
Besides these important projects to focus on, I have the following recommendations to share with our newly elected Mayor and Council members, based on my experience in public service for West Windsor:
- Get familiar with the Mayor-Council form of government and understand your roles as soon aspossible. There are experts recommended by the State League of Municipalities to help accomplish this.
- Keep good relationships with all County and State agencies as much as you can, which is particularly important for the new Mayor, because you are now the face of West Windsor.
- Whenever we are dealing with conflicts with the private sector, do our homework, understand the issues clearly, know what we want, and negotiate first. Litigation is always the last resort.
- Like the CEO of a private company, the Mayor has the responsibility of coordinating and facilitating all the key managers in the Administration. Listen to the experts, trust the experts, ask questions and make key policy decisions, and without micromanaging, monitor and follow up onthe progress.
- Howard Hughes (HH) will continue to be a critical issue in West Windsor. The day after I was elected to the Council in May 1993, Toll Brothers filed law suit against West Windsor based on the affordable housing. This turned out to be a precedent setting law suit,viewed as an important case study by both the land use planning and legal professions in New Jersey. As you know, recently we filed our application in response to the Amazon HQ2 RFP with unanimous support from the Council and HH management. My experience with parties involved will be of interest to our new Mayor and governing body. I am available to share them with the new team whenever you feel the timing is appropriate.
- Continue to implement the West Windsor Sustainable Plan, which is part of our Municipal Master Plan adopted in October 2004. So far, we have been ranked at the top level by the Sustainable Jersey Program. Next year, the Gold-level certification will be initiated. I would like to see we pursue for this certification as much as we can.
- To run an effective Council meeting, all questions that the individual Council member has, please communicate with Council chair, Mayor or Business Administrator as soon as you can. A lot of time can be saved at meetings if issues can be clarified beforehand.
Tonight, while the year 2017 is coming to a close in three weeks, I would like to take this opportunity to remind you: In 2018, West Windsor will continue our tradition with events that were institutionalized. The 39th Arbor Day celebration ceremony; the Memorial Day Parade; the second annual West Windsor Day; the 13th annual Dragon Boat Competition for breast cancer survivorsall held in earlyspring and summer; the Veteran’s Day Ceremony, the 6th Turkey Trot for regional charity organizations on Thanksgiving Day; and a tree-lighting ceremony on the first Sunday of December. Let’s bring our friends and neighbors all together at these events! Out of many, we are one!
In conclusion, the most important recommendation from me to the forthcoming leadership team is communication, communication, and communication. Communication has to be two ways –both expressing your opinions and listening to those of others. Also, communication must happen on all levels – communication with higher levels of government agencies, communication among elected officials, communication between the Administration and Council, and most importantly, communication with West Windsor residents.
Thank you. Good night and good luck.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!