Monday, February 1, 2010

Highlands First Impressions: Inviting Residents and Business Owners to Live, Work and Play here year 'round

For many the onset of Spring signifies a new beginning. In Highlands Spring reminds us that Summer fun is on the horizon. We emerge from cabin fever, spending more time outside in mild weather, enjoying nature's new life. Just as we spruce up our homes in the Spring celebrating the end of winter confinement, we straighten up our yards and make improvements that we can enjoy outdoors during our leisure time. The goals of Borough government are very similar.

Spring is the season for clean up throughout the Borough. Beach sweeps, bulk and brush pick ups, mulching and pruning in the parks, and general clean up of the basketball and tennis courts are some of the tasks assigned to the Department of Public Works in the Spring. Likewise Property Maintenance Code Enforcement becomes priority, as residents and visitors alike begin to stroll on Borough streets at all times of day and evening. Residents and Business Owners are encouraged to seek assistance and advice from Borough Hall in disposing of unwanted, unnecessary items and in improving the appearance of homes and businesses.

In 2010 the Highlands Borough Council has targeted the Downtown Business District for improvement. We are investigating requirements for a facade program for commercial property and residences throughout downtown. The Substandard Housing Committee continues to target vacant buildings in disrepair. Property owners are encouraged to meet with Borough Officials to discuss the condition of their home or business, receiving instructions about how to comply with code requirements. The benefit to the Property owner is a maximum value for their home or business. The benefit to the Borough is a clean and presentable appearance for Borough residents and visitors to the Borough.

Discussions are ongoing regarding grant opportunities for downtown improvements such as a Bay Avenue street scape, Broadband (aka Wifi) internet access, and underground utilities in targeted areas of the Business District. Grants are being carefully scrutinized for cost evaluation given the tight budget constraints facing residents, business owners, and municipalities alike. Planning future projects gives us hope and pride in Highlands Borough. Cleaning up what we have reminds us to put our best foot forward, reflecting on the value we place on our identity, history, and charm as a community. Projects which might draw new commercial uses to the Business District are high priority, because maximizing Commercial Property Values results in increased revenue from the Business District and a lower tax burden on residents at this difficult time.

In all matters facing the Borough of Highlands in 2010, we must be mindful of the need to balance the benefits and the cost of improvements to the Business District and generally throughout the Borough. Input from residents and business owners is key in determining where the benefits outweigh the costs of any project. The Governing Body of the Borough of Highlands encourages all residents and taxpayers to communicate with us via the web site and Borough Hall providing perspectives on the grant applications we may consider. We look forward to working with you as your representatives toward bringing out the best in Highlands for ourselves, and for future generations to come.