See the PDF version at Developing Trust Part1
To My Flemington Neighbors:
Several weeks ago I published a piece in TAPinto detailing my prior experience and why I believe the public can trust me to represent their interests if elected in November. In that article I pointed out that one of the dangers of political figures holding office for multiple terms is that they become beholden to the powers that perpetuate them. I think there is perhaps no clearer example of our elected officials, Mayor Greiner and Councilpersons Marc Hain and Brooke Warden, working for the interests of a few rather than the interests of the many than when we juxtapose two concurrent projects: Courthouse Square and the streetscape on Main Street.
The history of the streetscape project goes back to April 16th, 2014 when borough council was asked by business leaders to sponsor a $1-million-dollar federal grant that the borough would later receive in 2015. The proposed project was to benefit both business owners and residents, improve pedestrian safety, had full community endorsement, and would come at no cost to the local tax payer. It was a project that would eventually improve the safety and aesthetics of the entire length of Main Street. Unfortunately, it has been over four years and still not broken ground. Coordination has been the responsibility of the streetscape committee whom current councilperson Brooke Warden is a part and largely overseen under the tenure of Mayor Phil Greiner. Because of continued delays the costs have gone up, and bids are now more than $300,000 over budget. There were no moves by council to avoid these last-minute proposals. In fact, when it was learned that the project came in over budget, Phil, Brooke, and Marc’s response was to cancel the next regularly scheduled council meeting. This has left us in a position to bond for $500,000 and attempt to rescue the streetscape from its impending grant expiration date at the end of this year. A project meant to benefit all, supported by all, was neglected by the few chosen to represent us.
On the other hand, we have the controversial Courthouse Square project with its nearly 100-foot-tall buildings and 800 car parking garage that has divided this community due to its size, scale, and density. Residents have attended council meetings and repeatedly voiced their concerns about the redeveloper and financial agreements. Lawsuits have been filed questioning the validity of the Redevelopment Area along with conflicts of interest on the planning board and the process by which this project has moved through council. Sitting council members Harris, Driver, and Peterson have repeatedly voted ‘no’ on agreements with the developer out of concern that such agreements do not protect borough residents and taxpayers and shifts much of the risk onto the community.
Unlike the streetscape project, council and the planning board do not have external deadlines to meet with regard to Courthouse Square. But they do have a self-imposed deadline: November 6th. Those up for reelection have pushed through the redeveloper and financial agreements with no negotiations and the planning board is now holding weekly special meetings before a possible change in the governing body. At the same time, council has cancelled public meetings where concerned citizens can ask questions regarding these agreements. These grossly political moves are not about preservation of the community and looking out for our best interests. This is about self-preservation and special interests. The current incumbents up for reelection have failed to represent us and bring promised change to Main Street. But you can bring a change on November 6th. A vote for Betsy Driver, Caitlin Giles-McCormick and myself, Chris Runion, is a vote for representation, a vote for Main Street, a vote for you.
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