CHATHAM, NJ – A new restaurant at the train station, a nature trail, better communication with residents and long-term financial planning were among the topics covered by Borough of Chatham Mayor Bruce Harris in an interview with The Alternative Press of Chatham.
Harris believes there is a “good chance” a restaurant that serves liquor will be coming to the Chatham Train Station.
“Right now, we’re waiting for New Jersey Transit to post a request for expressions of interest,” Harris said. “I know that there are groups that are interested.”
The idea was spawned by the Boxcar Bar & Grill, located at the Short Hills Train Station, which, coincidentally, is on Chatham Road.
“We went there a few weeks ago on a Thursday night,” Harris said. “The design (configuration) of the restaurant is exactly the same as our train station. They sell coffee in the morning and then put tables between the benches for lunch and dinner and there is a bar at the other end. It’s on the eastbound side, so after the morning rush, it isn’t crowded with commuters.”
The difference is that Short Hills owns the train station and New Jersey Transit owns the Chatham station. NJ Transit would have to approve the liquor license.
“There’s a liquor license called a concessionaire’s license, which allows someone to sell liquor on public property,” Harris said.
Harris and Summit Mayor Ellen Dickson took a walk along the Passaic River together and are working on developing a nature trail that runs along the border of the two towns. Chatham interns Charles Ross and Andrew Holloway walked the 1.4 mile loop to identify the areas that will need to be addressed.
“There are a few inclines that may be too steep to walk the way they are now,” Harris said. “We’ve completed the study and now we’re looking at the best way to proceed. Having a nice walkable trail would be a big benefit.”
The mayor encourages all residents to sign up for AlertChathamBorough, the emergency alert system introduced by the borough this year. Residents have the ability to decide how they will receive alerts, whether through land lines, texts, email or cell – and prioritize the way they are alerted.
“So far, we have about 900 signed up,” Harris said. “I encourage everyone to sign up, so we can keep them informed. What’s good about this system is that we can target certain streets to let residents know about road work or other events that are specific to those streets.”
The total municipal budget for 2013 is $13.6 million, an increase of $230,000 from 2012. The increase is 1.41 percent. The total tax rate for 2013 will be $1.868 per $100 of assessed value.
“We usually budget for the current year and then glance at next year and do a multi-year capital plan,” Harris said. “Now we want to put that together in a more comprehensive way and come up with a 10-year plan. Our ability to increase revenue is very, very limited, so we have to learn to plan so we can keep taxes down.
“We’ve got a really good council right now and that makes all the difference in the world. We’ve had a great administrator (Bob Falzarano) for 10 years. I’m not the boss of the council, so to get things done it takes the individual council members to raise their hand and say they want to be involved, and that’s what they’ve done.”
BOROUGH NOTES: Chatham has applied for a grant to install electric car charging stations at the train station…the blinking light that fell at the intersection of Chatham Street and Washington Avenue will be replaced in the near future…a new pedestrian crossing is scheduled to be installed at Coleman Avenue and Main Street and there will be a pedestrian blinker installed at the Fairmount Avenue underpass.