Joseph Martin, who served as Verona’s township manager from 2004 to 2015, passed away on Friday, December 27, 2019 at The Daughters of Miriam in Clifton. He was 73.
Martin led Verona during a time of change on the Hilltop behind the Community Center, and beyond. He struck the first of the major PILOT tax deals that have come to define development in Verona, for the Highlands at Hilltop apartment buildings. He presided over government when the Town Council shaped the plans for the two youth sports fields that have come to be known as Freedom and Liberty. He also managed Verona through a property tax revaluation mandated by Essex County that was Verona’s first in almost three decades, and the shift led to many heated meetings with residents. Martin had a forceful personality that collided with the Board of Education on its efforts to repair the track behind H.B. Whitehorne and redevelop the upper and lower athletic fields at Verona High School, with the police department over its technology needs and with some members of the Town Council.
Jay Sniatkowski, who served on the Town Council during Martin’s tenure, appreciates what Martin achieved. “Joe was a dedicated public servant,” Sniatkowski says. “He had an inquisitive mind that was apparent in all the great work he did to better our community. He was a problem solver who aggressively tackled issues with a curiosity that allowed him a comprehensive understanding of the town and its history. Joe is a friend who will be missed.” Sniatkowski still marvels at some of the arcana that Martin had mastered, like the Latin names of the tree species in town.
Martin had had an extensive career in government before coming to Verona. He had twice served as Essex County administrator and had been the manager of Union County. He worked at New Jersey Transit in the late 1980s, as well as for Arthur Andersen, once a major accounting firm to corporations and government.
Joseph Alton Martin Jr. grew up in Essex Fells, and was a 1964 graduate of West Essex High School and a 1969 graduate of Syracuse University, where he also earned an MBA. It was often noted in Verona’s Memorial and Veterans Day observances that Martin had served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.
Martin’s wake will be held on Thursday, January 2, from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Codey & Jones Funeral Home, 54 Roseland Avenue, in Caldwell. The funeral service will be held on Friday, January 3 at 11 a.m. in the First Presbyterian Church at Caldwell. In lieu of flowers, donations to the West Essex First Aid Squad and/or The Daughters of Miriam Center would be appreciated.
Martin’s full obituary can be found on the Codey & Jones website here.