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Democratic council CandidatE

Stephanie Mcgowan

What is your opinion on the potential redevelopment projects as listed on the Borough website?

Redevelopment has been and continues to be both a challenge and an opportunity for our Borough.  As clearly outlined on the Borough of Rutherford website, there are four projects that have approved redevelopment plans (106 Park Avenue has been completed), two areas designated in need of redevelopment that do not have an approved redevelopment plan, and one area currently under review for redevelopment.  Since my arrival on the Council, the priority of the projects has shifted multiple times, which speaks to the complexity of a potential project moving through all the required phases to fruition.  

My opinion on development remains unchanged.  I am glad that community feedback is both solicited through opportunities such as the Town Hall on Development Councilman Goldsack and I hosted on March 3rd, and an updated listing available on the Borough website so residents can see what projects are being considered and at what stage they are in.  I believe that projects should be supported that enable greater foot traffic to our business district, support the beautification of areas that do not reflect the pride in ownership we as members of this Borough have come to expect, and provide much needed revenue to minimize the tax burden our residents shoulder.  I am a firm believer that with the consideration of larger development projects comes with thinking differently about how we provide win-win opportunities for the Borough.  For example, I am in support of structuring financial agreements with developers so that funding is provided to our schools and allocated to our essential services.  These are decisions that we can require and ensure that our Borough receives the financial assistance needed in any agreement set forward. Further, I whole-heartedly champion the need for our affordable housing requirements to be focused on developing supportive living environments designed for uniquely abled individuals, veterans, and our senior population.  

What do you hope can be included in the new county park that will be created where the current Highline is along Erie Avenue in Rutherford?

Many lessons have been learned during this Covid-19 pandemic about the need for space and ensuring opportunities for residents to safely enjoy being outside.  Although a great deal of clean up and removal of the train tracks is still needed to be executed by the county, it would be wonderful to see a walking trail, bike trail and leisure-lane benches along the path to encourage residents to enjoy the serenity this new county space will provide. I would also be willing to champion the inclusion of a dog park which many residents would welcome, including my very own rescue Bailey!

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?


Supporting our business district is a part of the lifeline of our Borough.  Now that business districts are no longer required to be contiguous, I believe the Borough can support multiple initiatives that support new and existing businesses throughout Rutherford.  For example, during the recent Covid-19 pandemic, restaurants were unable to have indoor dining until just recently.  By soliciting private support, the Mayor and Council were able to provide an organized and marketed Dining Out Rutherford campaign.  Although initially the participants were Rutherfordian’s supporting our local businesses, the marketing and consistency of Dining Out Rutherford brought new customers to our amazing restaurants and helped them financially survive through these most unexpected times.  Another initiative that Councilman Guzman and I have been working on is connecting our incredibly robust community organizations to “adopt” a business.  This initiative would facilitate support for our various businesses in the Borough, while fundraising for our community-based organizations that are a part of the fabric of Rutherford.  Just as there has been a critical need to support our businesses, there is also a critical need to support these organizations that selflessly give to our children, veterans, athletes, scouts, and our seniors.   Our goal was to begin launching this initiative after Dining Out Rutherford concluded, and our children began this very untraditional school year. As we begin to acclimate to our “new” normal, finding creative, out of the box initiatives, will be essential to the long-term health, growth, and recruitment of our business district.


What initiative do you envision implementing if elected that can bring revenue streams to our town?

As 2nd on Finance with Councilman Goldsack, this year we ensured the inclusion of capital funding to support updated parking apparatus to allow greater revenue to the Borough in a more user friendly and reliable way.  The goal would be to replace the existing meters with an updated parking technology that allows for the use of credits cards, coins, or mobile pay through apps.  This technology would enable the Borough to increase the intake of metered parking spaces, make paying for the usage more convenient, and can be expanded to manage parking decks as well as ease the need for enforcement resources.  Further, this technology could also show residents and visitors to our Borough where available spaces can be found.  The goal of this initiative is to both increase our revenue, as well as address some of the challenges specific to parking across the  Borough.

What do you envision Rutherford’s Downtown looking like 10 years from now, and how would you accomplish that?

I would like to see our Downtown updated with a more attractive streetscape and greater diversity of choices for residents to shop, eat, and gather. Additionally, we need to attract “anchor” businesses to round out the revitalization of our downtown area.  Further, we need to think about how to attract potential customers to experience our community.  Through supporting entities such as the Rutherford Arts Council, performance art troops and activities, as well as businesses that make our Borough a venue-based entertainment destination, we would capitalize on our proximity to New York City but maintain our small community feel.

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