Mayor John Sowden listed priorities for Franklin officials during the borough’s 110th annual mayor and council reorganization meeting Sunday, Jan. 1.
“The first priority would be, of course, finding a new water source for the borough’s drinking water,” he said.
Second is completion of the water tower. Contracts are expected by the middle of January, he said.
Officials plan to continue paving streets according to a list created about eight years ago.
“We also have to review our stormwater plans,” Sowden said, pointing out that the state has mandated that municipalities ensure that stormwater is diverted safely.
“It’s going to be expensive,” he warned.
Officials would like to improve the “Welcome to Franklin” signs and the holiday lights on Main Street “so that we can start to help to draw (people to) Main Street again.”
Councilman Concetto Formica and the mayor have been discussing ways to beautify the pond area.
“We want to make Franklin an inviting town to work in and live in. In short, we need to rethink how Franklin does business.”
Sowden, who has lived in Franklin all this life, said officials need to look at ways to capitalize on the borough’s past, starting with the zinc company site, then the Edison Schoolhouse-Hungarian Church.
They also want to work with surrounding towns “to make it so it’s cost-effective to live here.”
Council president elected
John Postas, who was elected council president for 2023, urged the council members to think outside the box about what to do to improve Main Street, especially the zinc mine property. ”It’s been sitting for 40-plus years with nothing going on.”
”First we need a draw into that center of town. I think that zinc company property could be the draw.”
Councilman Gilbert Snyder said the council needs a better dialogue with the Planning Board.
State Sen. Steven Oroho, R-24, administered the oath of office to Councilmen Formica and Stephen Skellenger, who were unopposed in the Nov. 8 election. Their new terms are for three years.
Oroho was a member of the Franklin Borough Council from 2001 to 2006 and of the Sussex County Board of Freeholders from 2005 to 2007.
Municipal Clerk Darlene Tremont administered the oath of office to Fire Chief Khyle Conklin and other officers of the Fire Department.
The meeting was attended by Sussex County Commissioner Dawn Fantasia, who has lived in Franklin since 2011. She was a Borough Council member for three years and was appointed council president in 2018.
CORRECTION: The family members standing with Councilman Stephen Skellenger as he took the oath of office were referred to incorrectly in an earlier version of this article. They are his mother, Robin, and niece Mila Garrera. Also, there was an incorrect reference to Councilman John Postas being re-elected council president. He was not council president in 2022.
“We want to make Franklin an inviting town to work in and live in. In short, we need to rethink how Franklin does business.” - John Sowden, Franklin mayor