republican council CandidatE
1). What is your opinion on the potential redevelopment projects as listed on the Borough website?
The problem with the boroughs plan is that they continually look for wrong development. I am not in favor of turning us into Hudson County with High Rise housing, without Residents watching them we can turn into the next High Rise City. Should we have to watch over them to make sure the Mayor and Council do what we as Residents of Rutherford want? Part of the plan they currently have now focuses on Residential buildings getting PILOT grants. PILOT money DOES NOT go to the school system which uses over 60% of our tax dollars. That means that every child that the new development project creates will be paid for by the current residents, not the developer who also gets a tax incentive of lower taxes over time. The burden now shifts to the residents of Rutherford to pay for all services and basically gives the developers a free lunch. With that PILOT money our elected officials can use it to close a municipal budget gap, pay for pet projects, and spend it any way they want with no input from the residents. All this while no money goes into the school system. Instead of creating Residential high rise density we should look to create Commercial which places no burden on the school system, and minimal on local services. If we also eliminate the PILOT program on a commercial property 60% of tax revenue would be funneled into the school system with NO additional additions to the school. Basically out schools would get to keep 100% of all money with no child expenses. They could do all the projects the BOE wants to do and no increase to the classroom size. This is the right development and not over development.
2). What do you hope can be included in the new county park that will be created where the current Highline is along Erie Ave in Rutherford?
One issue is that as you say it is a County Park. As with the Williams Center it is in Rutherford but we have little control of the operations. I would hope that first ,the county puts the control of that park in the hands of Rutherford. What the County wants and Rutherford wants may be two separate things and then the County wins by default. That being said, I would hope and expect depending on size we can accommodate a walk path, bike path, ADA path and area, a noise barrier to reduce train noise which can then be designed to look more appeasing, not the way the barrier was put up against Rt. 3. Then ask the residents of Rutherford what is "most important to them" and not "tell them what is important to them".
3). There are quite a few new businesses that have either recently opened or will open soon. How do you feel the Mayor and Council can help support and promote these new businesses?
The downtown partnership was disbanded, there has not been a local place to help coordinate the business, residents, and elected officials go meet so all are working together. Too many things were wrong with the partnership,with the right design it can benefit all. I had a business in Rutherford for 9 years, during that time I had no interaction with Borough Hall asking if they could help me grow the business. That being said, ribbon cutting is not a promotion but a photo op. We need the Mayor and Council to take an active involvement in the current businesses. Along with all new that come to town. Having a council member meet with business owners, or having a volunteer resident and or business owner be a voice for the local merchants. An office could be set up where both residents and businesses can work on ideas. With the virus and lock downs still in effect one place to start is by having dining out every night instead of just one. This would help all businesses, and keep the flow through traffic coming off Rt. 3 and going to Rt. 17 from coming into town. Making it a safer town, and helping to keep the businesses alive. There are ways to pay for Police and DPW without costing the residents any additional tax dollars and helping to keep our businesses alive.
4). What initiative do you envision implementing if elected that can bring in revenue streams to our town?
As I said before, we need Right Development not Over Development. Commercial property gives us the tax dollars we need and does not created a burden on the School System which is 60% of our tax dollars, nor does it create a need for affordable housing requirements. We can use the land on the right side of Rt. 17 as commercial growth. Since the Council wants to develop Agnew area again, make it with the right size of commercial not over sized residential. We could work with the county to improve the Main floor of the Williams Center. If it was repaired events could be held there. On each tickets sold to an event $1 could be added to pay for improvement's and $1 to go to the borough to help with services costs. This would also help local businesses with increased foot traffic. We need to do a better job on how we spend tax dollars. Currently there is No shared services between the BOE and the Borough. If we had both BOE and Borough work together we would save tax dollars. Current Council NEVER goes to a BOE meeting and NEVER attends the BOE budget meeting. If the Borough can work with the BOE we would have a tax savings.
5). What do you envision Rutherford's Downtown looking like 10 years from now, and how would you accomplish that?
That question depends on who is in office. If the current administration has its way, there will be no down town. It will look like Jersey City or Union City. Right now we have an issue with flow through traffic coming into town. Parking is running short with no residents only parking, and the Council wants high density housing. Their own statements say "We are not done with the Agnew area for (over) development". If I had my wish 10 years from now, we would still have a movie theater, a working Williams Center main hall to have concerts, graduations, and events. I would want the streets to be a place citizens could walk with their children and be able to cross the street without any fear. I would want a variety of stores and not just the same stores opening up a block or doors apart. I would like to have the Rutherford Street fair on Memorial and Labor day so all residents can enjoy start and end of summer. I would ask a study be done to make Park Ave one way, that would allow for cars to park front in and increase the amount of parking spaces on Park Ave. This also cuts down on the amount of flow through traffic into town. Promote down town outside of Rutherford, and also make it more attractive to view. We redid the sidewalk crossing going to Felician University, why not make Park Ave look just as good? These things will not take 10 years to do they can be stated right away, and help promote our quality of life.