A Facebook note by Betsy Driver, published August 23, 2018 – www.facebook.com/notes/a-better-fit-for-flemington-driver-runion-giles-mccormick/while-you-werent-paying-attention-by-betsy-driver/459479994555611/

How distracted have we become?

The Union Hotel and the redevelopment of Main Street has been front and center for the past 10 years.

Meanwhile, the quality of life in the Borough and the every day services residents expect from the town have also fallen while that big building on Main Street sucks up all of our attention.

Earlier this week, on Wednesday afternoon, I watched as a notice was placed on a neighbor’s door because they had about 4 small folded up boxes on the curb before the magical hour of 4 or 5pm when it becomes permissible to put trash and recycling out. We actually pay someone to troll the Borough the day before garbage pickup looking for residents who put their garbage or recycling out too early. On Friday, we pay him again to troll around looking for cans that haven’t been taken in on a timely basis.

It struck me as being about as unfriendly as we can get towards those who pay good money via taxes and high rent to live in the Borough. Don’t we have more important things to do?

This incident is just a symptom of our current situation.

Other signs of a failing quality of life index include things like a lack of safe bike lanes; are there any bike lanes in the borough? Not that I am aware of. There aren’t even very many bike racks around town.

We don’t even do a very good job of being walkable. A few years ago, we received a NJ Complete Streets designation; to the best of my knowledge, no tangible efforts have been made to implement the program. HART did an awareness program a couple years ago – I found the place results interesting in that people were cited for jaywalking but only one vehicle driver was cited for failing to stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

We could spend years improving pedestrian and bicyclist safety in the borough but we need to start somewhere and that could be bike lanes, crosswalks that are better marked, and enforcement.

We don’t have a borough playground for our kids. Sure, there is Mine Brook Park just inside the Township but it’s not really walkable from most of the Borough, especially for parents with shortie legs in tow.

Fact is, we need a Borough park that is usable, accessible, and offers things residents actually want. You’ve already told me – a dog park, a playground, better lighting, less trash, safer, better walking trails.

I’m aware of the many problems with Tuccamirgan Park, but most of those problems are ones of our own making through neglect and indifference. I’m working on changing that. At the last council meeting, an ordinance I introduced passed which prohibits smoking on borough property, including the park. This may seem inconsequential, but little steps can add up to big change over time.

I will seek out ways the Borough can make more improvements in the park – including a re-evaluation of how the space is being used, what improvements can be made to make it more welcoming and user friendly, and how we can pay for it. Frenchtown recently rehabbed one of their parks with a new playground using grants and a GoFundMe campaign. There is money out there to improve parks; the only thing we have been lacking in town is the initiative to seek it out.

Perhaps we can find room in there to build a dog park? I think we can. And I think we can find ways to pay for it with minimal impact on borough taxpayers.

Can we find space in there for a proper playground? We can, if we really want to make it happen. I want to make it happen, and my running mates for Borough Council, Chris Runion and Caitlin Giles-McCormick, want to make a Borough playground a reality, too.

Can we find ways to clean up the park and make it more welcoming? Absolutely. This can be done with a minimal amount of investment. But we need to care enough as a community, and as a council, to make it happen. No one has been caring for our assets over the past several years to do anything but put band-aids on the park.

Don’t let the quest for the right redevelopment be a distraction.

We need the quality of life enhancements that our high taxes should give us. There’s much room for improvement in this area and when I am Mayor, I will make our quality of life a priority.

We need a higher user-friendly index. Let’s make it happen.

The team of #ABetterFitForFlemington Driver, Runion and Giles-McCormick will work to make Flemington a place people want to live.

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