Frustration from the community

The lack of transparency from the Common Council’s Safety Committee and the associated frustration from residents was on full display at last week’s Council meeting. Multiple community members commented on the lack of clarity, communication, and rationale with the process for three proposed 4-way stops on Ashland & Maple, Ashland & Tulip, and Tulip & Prospect. Chaired by Ms. Susan Hairston, the Safety Committee also disregarded numerous pleas from the public in the month leading up to the hearing. Clearly, three 4-way stops on major arteries within a few blocks of one another will have a significant impact on the surrounding neighborhoods—the public’s input is critical to the decision.

The way Common Council, and specifically the Safety & Health Committee chaired by Councilmember Susan Hairston, managed this ordinance does not bode well for other debates ahead.

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Most at risk for similar frustration from the community is the proposed Broad Street West redevelopment plan. Despite prior community outreach, any future lack of transparency could very quickly jeopardize the look and feel of our city and turn it into Morristown. 

A call for Action

My husband and I moved to Summit to raise our family in a charming town next to a big city. Like countless individuals and families across Summit, it is something we believe should be preserved.  

That’s why I’m calling for greater transparency into the City’s Broad Street West Redevelopment plan. The community deserves, and frankly has the right, to know exactly who is leading negotiations with the developer and the details of any legal agreements that have been publicly approved.

First, members of Common Council, City Staff, Planning Board members, and others are all mentioned as contributing to the negotiations but who is specifically in charge? Transparency drives accountability. Let's share names, reaffirm the group’s guiding principles, and open lines of communication that also respect the requisite confidentiality of these delicate negotiations. 

Second, the 12/17/2019 Common Council agenda listed Capital Projects Resolution # 6821 to Authorize Execution of a Conditional Designation and Escrow Agreement By and between City of Summit and Broad St West Redeveloper. Seven months later, this legal agreement has not been disclosed to the public. Agreements signed on behalf of the community should be accessible to the residents of Summit for review. 

Transparency must remain at the heart of City Hall. As a candidate, and if elected to Council, this will serve as my guiding light. A project of this size deserves a champion of transparency and I will continue to be your advocate. 

Eileen Kelly

Candidate for Common Council - Ward 1