It’s becoming a New Year’s Day tradition in Guttenberg: have a local official take the oath of office, joined by some other prominent official from Hudson County who is slated to do the same.
Two years ago, when members of the Guttenberg Town Council were sworn in, Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise came to Guttenberg to take his oath on New Year’s Day.
This year, it was Sal Vega, the chairman of Hudson County Board of Freeholders, who made the journey to Guttenberg to take the oath along with Mayor David Delle Donna and council members Adela Martinez, Gerald Drasheff and Efrain Velez.
Sure, the Hudson County Board of Freeholders held a special swearing in presentation a few days later at the Brennan Court House, but Vega decided to officially take the oath on New Year’s Day with the Guttenberg gang, with Hudson County Superior Court Judge Maureen Mantineo presiding.
“They started a tradition with Tom DeGise, and then they reminded me of it,” Vega said. “When they extended the invitation to me, I felt honored and thought it would be nice to take the oath in Guttenberg. It was a nice ceremony. Dave has done a number of good things with us in the county, some good projects.”
“My relationship with Sal is great,” Delle Donna said. “We invite them to come. Tom graciously accepted and it is our honor to have them come.”
Once Delle Donna took the oath for his third term as Guttenberg’s mayor and the first four-year term, he immediately started to make plans for the future.
New community center a priority “The first thing we have to work on is getting a new community center,” Delle Donna said. “That will be the first priority.”
The old community center had to be razed three years ago due to asbestos contamination and the town has been operating without once since, using Anna L. Klein School’s cafetorium for many of the activities that used to take place in the community center.
Now, Delle Donna wants to insure a new community center.
“We’re in the process of securing a location,” Delle Donna said. “We are going to find out about the land that the Board of Education currently owns on 68th and Hudson, which is currently a 50-by-100 lot. We have briefly discussed the idea of purchasing that land, but now, we’re going to work on it in earnest.”
Delle Donna would like to take that property and build a two-story facility, complete with a gymnasium on the first floor, meeting rooms on the second and locker rooms, and bathrooms in the basement.
“We currently have about $300,000 set aside from various grants and funds that we would use for this project,” Delle Donna said. “We can apply for other grants as well. The idea is to centrally locate the community center with the school. My thought is that the school would also use the community center. It would help them out with space and they can convert their current gymnasium into whatever they need. We would use the community center for after-school and recreation programs.”
Since the property is currently owned by the Board of Education, Delle Donna said that the town would have to make a proposal to the state Board of Education if a land deal was to be made.
“There might be restrictions on the property,” Delle Donna said. “We may have some hurdles we have to look at. But it would make sense if we can get it done. It could alleviate some of the school’s space problems and it would centralize recreation and school activities.”
The second item on Delle Donna’s agenda for the first 100 days of his new term will be securing the public park site on River Road, in between K. Hovnanian’s Bulls Ferry luxury housing complex and another set to be built by the developer on the northern side, the Guttenberg/North Bergen border.
“The final touches are being put on the purchase of the land,” Delle Donna said. “Our attorneys are talking with the K. Hovnanian attorneys to make sure all the logistics are in place. I believe that the final deal will take place within the next month or so. I’m confident we will get the funding to then build the park. It’s finally becoming a reality. I am confident about the park getting done. The community center is the top priority.”
That’s why Delle Donna got a running start in taking the oath on New Year’s Day. There will be a special inauguration at the regular council meeting Monday night.