Mayor's Corner

The Borough of Essex Fells, NJ Essex Fells Welcomes You

Over one hundred years ago, Anthony Drexel, a prominent developer and planner, had a vision and dream to build a unique community with beautiful homes situated in a bucolic area of New Jersey. He teamed up with his son-in-law, John R. Fell, Charles W. Leavitt, and later the firm of Wendell and Treat, and together they laid out the plans for this residential community, which at the time was part of the Township of Caldwell.

Anthony Joseph Drexel Borough Founder
Anthony Joseph Drexel

As this new area began to grow, it also began to develop its own identity. But what to call it? “Essex” was decided upon because of the county within which the area is situated and “Fells” was chosen, not only because of John Fell, but also because the word “fell” suggests a rolling, hilly area. Eventually, community leaders went to the New Jersey State Legislature for incorporation, and on March 31, 1902, the Borough of Essex Fells was born.

Although Essex Fells is the smallest community in Essex County, its contributions to our society, as well as its heart and soul, are enormous. Essex Fells has been the home of not only entrepreneurs, inventors, and leaders in industry and business, but also artists, singers, poets, philanthropists, and humanitarians. Its residents demonstrate their commitment and love of community through involvement with organizations like the Essex Fells Garden Club, Skating Pond Committee, Recreation Committee, Foundations supporting Police, Recreation, or the Elementary School, or the Essex Fells Volunteer Fire Department.

Recently, Essex Fells celebrated its Centennial and how Anthony Drexel’s vision and dream became a reality. To this very day, residents of “the Fells” celebrate the beauty of the town’s design with its winding streets, shade trees, and magnificent homes.

Statue of Anthony Drexel at Drexel University Statue of Anthony Drexel
at Drexel University

We celebrate the serenity of an early morning walk; we celebrate Memorial Day with a remembrance of our war heroes and with the Dogwood Festival; we celebrate the concerts given by the elementary school children at Essex Fells School; we celebrate skating at the pond; we celebrate the laughter and cheering from our playing fields; we celebrate the beauty of our dogwoods; we celebrate being neighbors; and we celebrate simply being part of this small and ever so special place. We are truly the caretakers of a wonderful legacy; the trustees of a precious stone. I believe that Anthony Drexel would be proud to see what has become of his dream.

It is our hope that this website will provide you with helpful and pertinent information about the Borough of Essex Fells.

If you would like to contact me by e-mail, please feel free to do so at I would like to hear from you.

Letter from the Mayor on the Passing of Jack Pohlman

I am so sorry to write about the passing of my friend, and a friend of the Borough, Jack Pohlman.  Jack was the Superintendent of the Essex Fells Water Utility for the last 25 plus years.  You don’t know him?  He preferred it that way.  Do you appreciate the amazing job he did for you and the Borough of Essex Fells?  You should every time you turn on your tap to fill your coffee pot, make dinner, or simply have a glass of water from the finest water utility on the East Coast.

Jack Pohlman started with the Borough of Essex Fells as a janitor.  Yup, a janitor.  You know, the guy pushing a broom.  His intelligence and drive brought him into learning about how our water utility operates when it was “old school.”  Pumps, pipes, dials and valves.  He learned and operated the system the way those who came before him did – with dirt and mud on his hands.  And sweat.  Sure, he got the necessary paper work, training, and certificates that the State and bureaucracy require to become the Superintendent of our Utility, but Jack knew our system inside and out.  He knew, and I believe felt, the very flow of water that was drawn from our aquifers, to the air stripper, to the mains, to the streets, to your homes and out of your faucets.  He lived, breathed, ate and slept the Essex Fells Water Utility. 

But Jack’s love of our Borough and her residents goes beyond the Water Utility.  For example, Jack would help with leaf pickup, snow plowing (one of my favorite winter memories will always be my standing at the end of my driveway at night during a raging snowstorm and seeing Jack go driving by in a town truck with the yellow emergency lights on plowing the road) or anything that was needed by anyone at anytime.

Jack did not suffer fools easily.  In fact, he intimidated me.  He knew that, and I have to say, I loved him for it.  It was Jack’s way or the highway.  There was more than one time that, when it came to the operation of the water utility, Jack would have his finger in my face about what needed to be done and that it had to be done NOW.  And there was never a time that I disagreed.  Jack was instrumental in our securing a twenty-year water contact with our customer towns when it was crucial that we do so.  His legacy will ensure that that happens again.  Jack was passionate about the Utility, Jack was passionate about our town, and Jack was passionate about our relationship.  Jack was a true friend.

I worry about things.  I worry about a lot of things.  I worry about our town.  I worry about the kids of Essex Fells.  I worry about you residents.  I worry about having our police officers patrolling our streets less than 20 miles from some of the most dangerous streets in New Jersey.  I worry every time there is a storm or the lights flicker. I worry about taxes, streets, lights, funding, leaves, the Pond, the fields, deer, coyotes, foxes, and feral cats.  I worry about my friends, neighbors, and fellow firefighters every an alarm goes off.  But, what I never worried about was the Essex Fells Water Utility with Jack Pohlman on the job.   He ran it his way, without fanfare or fuss.

Early on in our relationship (I think it was when I was a Councilman), I called Jack, “Aquaman.”  To me, he was a superhero. He ran an operation that is incredibly complex, extremely important to not only every resident of Essex Fells, but also the residents of three surrounding towns, and did it with quiet understatement. Now, believe me, when I say “quiet understatement,” that only refers to you folks.  To those of us who daily worked with him, Jack was hardly “quiet.”  Yet, he never wanted the limelight, the attention, or the public affirmation that he was doing simply a magnificent job for Essex Fells.

Earlier this year, I finally did something that I had been meaning to do for years.  I sent Jack a 14 inch Aquaman action figure along with a note (that I will keep between us) thanking him for all his service to Essex Fells and for our friendship. 

As I approached Jack’s wife, Tina, at his wake and told her how much Jack meant to the Borough and me, and that to me, Jack will always be “Aquaman,” she lovingly smiled and pointed to the Aquaman action figure that I had sent to him earlier which she placed directly next to his casket. 

Essex Fells lost a superhero. 

View Official Letter Here