Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sea View Among Safest American Towns

Sea View, NJ.

Time magazine published its 100 Safest Towns in America yesterday, and Sea View, NJ, ranked number 72.

Until recently, Sea View was best known for the Ocean Park amusement pier, which once served as a top vacation destination. That golden age ended when the pier closing and boardwalk merchant exodus created severe economic hardship for the town.

Based on similar cases, one would have expected the character of a town to deteriorate. This is not been the case in Sea View, much to the credit of their mayor of 12 years, Winston Mayfield.

Mayfield originally ran for office on a platform of cleaning up the town and creating a safe haven for its residents. As mayor he delivered on his promise. During his first few years in office, Mayfield instituted extensive neighborhood cleanup programs. He developed some the most elaborate green initiatives in the country through his Green With Pride program. Under Mayfield’s leadership, Sea View helped inspire Rutgers University’s New Jersey Sustainable State Institute and the Mayor’s Committee for a Green Future.

Sea View remains among the nation’s leading municipalities in purchasing environmentally friendly products, such as compact fluorescent light bulbs, recycled paper, and hybrid cars. Mayfield has also supported ordinances for mandatory recycling and anti-idling, and is well known for planting trees around city buildings with the local high school every Earth Day. His sparse critics point to the negative impact the new high energy standards may have on industry and housing development incentive, but even they commend the mayor’s motives.

Mayfield has taken the concept of “neighborhood watch” to previously unseen extremes. Three years ago, following his most recent reelection, he led a fund-raising campaign to purchase surveillance camera systems for installation throughout the town. These were stationed at each traffic light, in front of the most commonly used business establishments, and on certain neighborhood blocks. Crime is down 45% during the mayor’s tenure in office, and violent crime is essentially nonexistent in Sea View, despite rising crime rates in nearly every surrounding town during the same period.

When receiving word about the Time magazine honor, Mayor Mayfield commented, “This is a testament to efforts of our citizens. We've all been committed to making this a safer and cleaner place to live. We have had some difficult economic trials here, but with the unwavering confidence and support of our citizens, we will overcome that challenge as well. Everyone here certainly deserves as much."

This award may come as a surprise in the wake of the Satin Strangler arrest in Sea View. Of course, Time made its selections prior to the arrest. Regarding the Satin Strangler case, Mayfield stated, “That was just more evidence that this is a safe place to live. She was an outsider who came through and placed our town in jeopardy. Luckily, we had a surveillance system in place to identify and apprehend her and keep our residents safe."

Other safe towns on Time magazine’s list included State College, PA, Steubenville, OH, Wheeling, WV, Pittsfield, MA, Wausau, WI, Nashua, NH, Parkensburg, WV, Glens Falls, NY, and Williamsport, PA.

That’s the dirt from the 72nd safest town in America.


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