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Monday March 19, 2018


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Rich Smith Honored at His Last Committee Meeting

At the December 21 Township Committee meeting, Mayor Ed Traszka read a resolution honoring six-year Committeeman Rich Smith for his service to the community, listing positions and committees Smith has held or served on over the years: "Rich served as mayor (2014) and deputy mayor on Township

Committee, Planning Board Class I and Class III, Zoning Board of Adjustment, Site Plan and Subdivision committee, Transportation Advisory Committee, Local Emergency Planning Council, liaison for the Economic Development Commission, Recreation Commission as liaison, Sewer Committee, Wildlife Management Committee, Master Plan Land Development Update Committee, Budget & Finance, and also Board of Fire Prevention Committee."

Traszka thanked Smith on behalf of the entire Committee and wished him a fond farewell. "Rich Smith performed the duties and obligations of public service and he has given his utmost to the people of Montgomery, who in turn benefitted from his experience, knowledge and love for this community."
Police Captain Thomas Wain also congratulated Committeeman Smith at the December 21 meeting and spoke about his lasting impact.

"On behalf of our police department thank you for everything. You have been a good friend to us and you've done a lot of things to advance Montgomery Police. When you toured the department HQ and 'saw how we're living' you looked right at us and said the Committee will do something about it. That was not lip service and it'll be a reality. The force will benefit from that for years to come. Thank you very much Rich," Capt. Wain said.

Smith thanked Wain and said he rose to police captain and has developed "a fantastic team and built a great department." He says the work for the future police headquarters was a clear passion during his time on Committee. Smith first ran for a seat in 2011. Six years later, Smith said he will miss Wednesday phone calls with Township Administrator Donato Nieman, as the two went over many municipal projects and issues. His consistent motivation was explained through parting thoughts.

"I wanted to give back to the community and lend my expertise in design and construction and development to help the town grow in the right direction and in the right place. We were coming out of the 2009 Recession and things were looking good and brewing in town for developments, and I think I brought an independent mind and approach to it. I always tried to do what was best for the township before anything," Smith said.

At the December 21 meeting, he thanked Township Clerk Donna Kukla and Townshi

p Attorney Kristina Hadinger, saying she has "kept the Committee out of legal trouble here in town."
Smith also said he was proud to arrive at the conclusion of a longtime negotiation with Country Club Meadows developments in Belle Mead and "got the stalemate cleared away." The Montgomery Promenade, scheduled to start construction in 2018, is another feat as, "They came back and finally got it approved." On December 21, the Committee discussed the officially-signed L.L. Bean retailer as a flagship of the new mall, along with Frank Theatres.

Smith is also happy to see progress with the township repaving 20% of its roads, 30 to 40 miles of roadway, in his tenure on the Committee. He says another initiative he was happy to work on was having township departments instill a customer service attitude. "When people come to the municipal offices they come here because they need help," he said. He also commented on the new township headquarters property, the former Convatec site, as Smith had evaluated potential for the existing municipal building, "As we tried to restore it to something we could all be proud of. We got to a point where another opportunity came up two miles down the road, and I believe we made a good decision."

Smith said, in 2018 he is looking forward to the promotion he received at work as well as spending more time with his wife and two daughters. His fellow Committee members Mark Conforti and Christine Madrid said the residents may not realize how much time and effort volunteer officials spend on municipal projects.

"We all do this with politics at the local level because we want to contribute to the community. Rich is leaving this place a better place than when he joined the Committee," Madrid said.

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