Mayor's Message

January 23, 2023

With 2022 coming to a close, without the daily changes in rules surrounding the COVID-19 Pandemic, it’s nice to be getting back to the old normal.

Before I begin, I would be remiss if I did not mention that everything that happens in this town would not be possible if it were not for the incredible support that I receive day in and day out from all of the Council Members, and this past year was no exception. I would like to congratulate Council President Anthony Sgobba on his reelection as Council President. I would also like to congratulate Council members Vancheri, Murphy, and Patel on their election this past November.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all of the employees of this Township who work so hard each and every day to keep this Town up and running, especially our Business Administrator Chuck Cuccia, our Township Clerk, Cynthia Kraus, and our Deputy Clerk, Melissa DePiro.

I am thrilled to announce that the first three sections of our Main Street, Streetscape project which have been delayed for years due to supply chain issues and Covid related delays is finally under way. Soon, our downtown will not be stuck in 1960, and like so many of our surrounding neighbors, we will have a modern, cleaned up downtown, that we can all be proud of, that will be decorated with lights and wreathes and banners, all funded by grants received in prior years. All of the construction that you see ongoing along Main Street is currently to improve the downtown aesthetics and bring Little Falls into the Millennium. Eventually, it is my vision that this Streetscape will span from the border of Little Falls in North Caldwell in Singac to the very top of Long Hill Road, as well as along Stevens Ave. and eventually Paterson Ave. It will add a welcoming and soft feel to the Township

Little Falls had a great 2022. From a grant’s perspective, the Township was awarded funding of nearly $1.75 Million and comes from a combination of State and County sources. We received nearly a half million dollars to improve Wilmore Park, we’ve received over $469,000 to continue the Streetscape on Stevens Ave. from Main Street to Walnut Street. We received $300,000 to expand the Streetscape on Main Street from Maple Ave. to Van Ness Ave., and we received $248,000 to add a sidewalk along Wilmore Road to allow students to safely walk to school from Francisco Ave. We also received $100,000 to add Belgium Block curbs and repave Mozart Ave. and Cherry Street, as well as nearly $100,000 for police overtime for things such as highway enforcement, drunk driving enforcement, and seatbelt enforcement, as well as $26,000 towards firefighter turnout gear. All of these improvements and expenses come to Little Falls residents at no costs funded by grants, which have increased by hundreds of thousands of dollars since I have become Mayor over prior administrations.

Little Falls continued to have incredible attendance at its Summer Concerts in the Park with the assistance of ABC, we continued to host outdoor movie nights, and the ever-popular Farmers Market which nearly doubled its visitors this year to almost 15,000 visitors throughout its 24 weeks, and this year, the Township hosted its second annual Water Day, which wasn’t cut short by rain, and was an incredible success. The township continued to host its annual 5K, town wide garage sale, Light Up Little Falls, and its numerous flag-raising ceremonies to honor and remind us of the struggles and successes of others. I need to thank Councilmember Hablitz for her dedication to making Little Falls such a great place to live, as well as former Council members Seber and Kahwaty for their assistance in making these events so successful with so many events offered to people of all ages.

I also need to thank our Little Falls CERT Team more than ever for their services this year as they assisted at all of our major events throughout town to ensure that all remained safe.

This past year, the Township made a substantial upgrade to the 911 communications system which cost nearly $1 Million. We continued to make substantial sewer repairs and upgrades to our aging sewer system in town, some of which is over 100 years old. We also completed the pedestrian walkway at Town Hall which was part of the original plan but eliminated during construction. We purchased a roll off truck to ensure that in the event there is ever a flood again that we are never dependent upon garbage contractors to assist in removing and relocating dumpsters when our residents are in dire need of dumpsters being relocated. We also brought our tax map into the 21st century and have now digitized the tax map. And we passed a lead-based paint abatement ordinance to ensure that residents, particularly tenants, remain safe. And finally, after over a decade of the building remaining empty, and this administration vowing to work to save the building, we partnered with the Historic Society and Ethan and the Bean to repurpose the old Municipal Building at 35 Stevens Ave. to have it restored to its old beauty at no cost to the residents of Little Falls.


This past year, the Fall and Spring sports were able to utilize the renovated Sports and Recreation Complex, and the Townships annual Summer Camp program was back in full swing, thanks to our Recreation department headed by Mr. Passero and Mr. Pace. This past year, Pickleball saw its highest registration numbers with 139 individuals registered, and seemingly, that many people there each day. Our spring sports season saw an all-time high registration of 889 children registered as well with more and more children being drawn to the renovated facility than ever before, with a total of 2,456 youth and adult sports registrations in Community Pass in 2022.

This year, the Little Falls Recreation Department successfully added two events, one of which was delayed a few years due to weather and Covid, with the addition of the food truck festival for Halloween, as well as the addition of the Peddlers Village Holiday Marketplace. There are now 38 total different sports programs and events hosted by the Township Recreation Department each year available to Little Falls Residents.

Building Department & Fire Official

In 2022, under the leadership of James DiMaria, the building department and the Township have continued to work towards revitalizing, upgrading, and enhancing our Township in a positive direction which is simultaneously helping to ensure the financial future of the Town. Many homeowners have also invested in their homes continuing to choose Little Falls as their home, and continuing to make improvements to their home. In 2022, there were 764 permits issued and costing over $600,000 in total permit fees. There were 70 new buildings constructed, with new construction totaling over $37 Million. There were 759 inspections completed, and 230 violations issued. These new buildings and developments will increase the tax base and ratables for the municipality and greatly assist in continuing to stabilize the taxes in Little Falls while assisting in paying down the excessive debt that Little Falls has had since prior to me taking office.

Under his department in Fire Prevention, Mr. DiMaria has performed a total of 742 inspections in 2022, and performed a total of 9 fire investigations. Through these inspections, he has issued 258 violations for issues that he has noted. The building and Fire Prevention departments have been busy in 2022.

Developments and Traffic

The new development which is under way have proven to have little impact on our schools, and little impact on the traffic in Little Falls which was a concern of many residents here in town prior to them being developed. In fact, only a couple of children have been added to our schools from all of the developments, including those approved even prior to me being elected Mayor. As far as traffic, traffic has noticeably decreased over the past several months now that drivers are becoming more accustomed to the new traffic pattern at the RT46/3 split. Once the project is completed and additional lanes are added at the split, and the highway becomes even safer and accidents hopefully decrease substantially, traffic along Main Street will be almost entirely alleviated along Main Street. Since changing the timing of the traffic lights on Main Street, traffic, even during rush hour, is minimal and flows with little wait time at all of the traffic lights along Main Street.


As residents are aware, last year the Federal government announced funding for the Peckman River project, which the Federal Government has announced funding for to the tune of over $146 Million. I have just learned that the design study is about to begin and soon, will be underway. While this project will take some time to be completed, it will ultimately add relief that many Little Falls residents need to help them sleep better at night, knowing that their homes are not one rainstorm away from flooding.


The Little Falls Library continues to add countless community events each year for our residents, and hosts so many events for our children and adults.


With respect to our Police Department, this past year, the Little Falls Police Department, led by newly sworn in Chief Bryan Prall, continues to maintain its accreditation as a department due to the policies and procedures that have been instituted to ensure the safety of our department and our residents. I want to wish Chief Prall safety and success in his leadership of this Department as he leads them in his new rank as Chief.

This past year, under his leadership, the Little Falls Police Department has responded to 26,099 calls for service, averaging over 71 calls per day. There were 994 motor vehicle crashes, 4,273 traffic enforcements, and over 100,000 miles patrolled, all within a town that’s less than 3 square miles.

As we progress into 2023, the Little Falls Police Department will be launching an online traffic complaint form where residents can log a complaint, and officers can follow up with data and information to provide the best solutions to issues that may exist on their particular streets or areas of concern. We are also going to be transitioning to a new program to disseminate information to residents for both emergency and non-emergency purposes.

During 2023, Chief Prall intends to reinstitute the Special Police Officer Program. These officers, once trained and in place, will allow us the flexibility to bolster the department’s capabilities with community policing, traffic enforcement and patrol related duties. They will also serve as a force-multiplier during states of emergency or when additional man power is necessary.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of the members of the Little Falls Police Department for their service, as well as their families, who work holidays, emergencies, and all hours of the day and night.

The Council and I continue to keep the safety of the residents in the forefront of our minds, and after having an opportunity to monitor the success of the speed humps that were added on Jacobus Avenue and Van Pelt, additional streets through Little Falls may be added in the upcoming year after additional meetings with residents. I would like to thank Councilman Vancheri for continued dedication to the transportation related issues in this municipality. This year, Councilman Vancheri was instrumental in having the first “don’t block the box” added to the intersection of Montclair Ave, with additional intersections along Main Street to be added in the upcoming warmer weather.

This year, I am hopeful that the installation of the Traffic Light at the intersection of Francisco Ave, at Cedar Grove and Wilmore Roads will be completed, adding a level of safety for everyone that uses that intersection on a daily basis.


In furtherance of the Township’s dedication to safety, this year, due the Little Falls EMS program has moved to a full-time program. Under the guidance of EMS Coordinator Mike Bandurski, the Little Falls EMS program has run smoothly and efficiently and has provided an incredible service to Little Falls residents, which to date, no resident has been issued a bill for services by the EMTs or for the Ambulance. In 2022, Little Falls EMS was called a total of 1,647 times. Little Falls staffed at least one ambulance 24/7 and a second ambulance when possible. Little Falls EMS answered 1,266 calls within the Township and responded to medical calls in Wayne 94 times, Totowa 65 times, Woodland Park 59 times, Clifton 57 times, and several other towns totaling an additional 37 times. Thank you to all of our EMT’s who work each day responding to some of the least expected calls anyone can imagine. In 2023, the construction of the new EMS Building on Wilmore Road should be underway as soon as funding is approved by the council and plans are completed.

Fire Department

In 2022, the Little Falls Fire Department, led by Chief, Ken Cichy, responded to a dorm fire at MSU, a structure fire at Tony’s Pizza, a structure Fire on Loretta Drive, a Motor Vehicle entrapment on Cedar Grove Road and Newark Pompton Turnpike, and multiple mutual aid calls to Cedar Grove, Passaic, and Prospect Park to fight structure fires. There were a total of 584 alarms, with 43 of them being at MSU.

In 2022, the water main project along Main Street from Union Ave. to Rt23 was completed increasing water pressure for residents and the fire department if ever needed.

In 2023, the Little Falls Fire Department is looking to Secure funding to migrate the Fire Department on to the State radio system, including new portable and mobile radios. The Department is also looking to secure funding for the replacement of Engine #4 as well as a mini pumper/squad vehicle for Singac Company 3.

Thankfully, the residents of this Township can sleep with the peace of mind that the Little Falls Fire Department is ready to jump into action any time of day, no matter the weather. I want to thank each and every member of the Little Falls Fire Department for their dedication to the residents of this Township.


In 2022, under the Guidance of DPW Superintendent Ron Campbell, the Little Falls DPW continued to keep up with its traditions of making sure that Little Falls roadways were plowed within seconds of snow hitting them following every snowstorm. This small crew is responsible for maintaining all of our parks and fields throughout the town, as well as maintaining 140 various lots that were affected by FEMA buyouts. The DPW planted dozens of trees this year on various vacant lots and in our parks and built a rain garden on the old Morris Canal Lane. The DPW continued to re-stripe all of the crosswalks and stop bars as needed throughout town and restriped all of the parking spaces along the rec center to maximize parking for visitors. The DPW painted epoxy floors in the cells and garage at the Police station as well as hung new TVs to assist the Police in upgrading the townships surveillance system.

This year, the Township also received a new F350 with a plow as well as two state of the art Ventrac snowplow and snow blower machines, which frankly, if we don’t get to use it this year I’d be happy. Being a grown-up has dramatically changed the way I feel about snow.

Over the past 6 years, I have truly enjoyed serving as Mayor. When I ran for Mayor, the number one concern of the residents was the ever-increasing taxes, and I vowed to find a way to stabilize taxes. I have found a solution to do so, and anyone who does budgeting knows that there are two parts to any budget, income, and expenses. I am happy to say that there is very little money that can be removed from the budget with respect to spending. So the only wany to offset the ever growing costs, is to increase the income, and adding rateables is the only way municipalities can do so. Many have criticized the development that is occurring in town. Yet, on the other hand, if nothing was done to offset the growing expenses, your taxes would increase, and the number one concern of nearly every resident that I have ever spoken to would not have been addressed.

This is where I ask you all to take a look at what is most important to you, and decide what is right for Little Falls. Is it more important to be able to afford your basic needs and necessities and have developments that beautify industrial zones in Little Falls, or is it more important to allow industrial zones along Main Street to sit stagnant in the name of quaintness while simultaneously not being able to afford to live here anymore; because you can’t choose both.

The answer that you would prefer a balance between the two simply does not exist, because developers have a minimum density that they require in order for the project to be feasible. As an aside, I agree with nearly everyone that has said that the new developments are tall, that they are close to the street, that they are dense, that they are plain. However, the fears that schools will be overcrowded, traffic will increase, and additional services will be needed have simply proven to be incorrect. A balance had to be met that brought in a benefit to the Township that keeps Little Falls affordable while not costing additional services. And as many economists suspected, the market was only going to warrant redevelopment for a short period of time, and that bubble has now burst. We had to strike while the iron was hot. I now suspect that there will be a period of time when major development will cease for a period of time, and thankfully, Little Falls will have the advantage of these new rateables to assist us all in stabilizing our local taxes.

So, in the face of adversity, so much has been accomplished here in Little Falls in 2022. As I have stated from the onset, I remain dedicated to my promise of Transparency. I wish people would attend Council meetings and address me and this Council with questions, rather than spreading their misinformation on social media which goes largely unanswered.

The future of this Township is truly bright, and all of our pockets will truly see a tremendous benefit. I have truly enjoyed each day that I have been fortunate enough to serve as your Mayor.

As always, if you ever have any issues, no matter how big or small, no matter day or night, I invite you to contact me by any means. I am always happy to have a discussion about anything and prefer to do so without people using social media as their first effort to have an issue addressed.

I look forward to continuing to serve as your Mayor, and I wish everyone health and happiness in 2023.

Thank You.

James Belford Damiano
-Mayor, Township of Little Falls