CHATHAM, NJ - The Borough of Chatham Council used a presentation of the 2017 Morris County budget as an opportunity to vent its frustration with what it perceives as an unresponsive county bureaucracy at its regular meeting on Monday night.
Borough council president Vicki Fife told Freeholder Christine Myers and county administrator John Bonanni that, "We feel like we're the orphans of Morris County."
Among the grievances aired were: longstanding traffic problems on Main Street in Chatham and the perception that there is poor response from the county when issues in Chatham Borough are communicated. One example was Mayor Bruce Harris' draft proposal for a new train station on River Road, which was submitted in March. Harris has yet to hear back from anyone from the county.
Borough council member Jim Lonergan pointed out that Chatham Borough contributes $6 million per year in taxes to the county, but is not receiving anything close to that in return with road projects, etc.
Council member Jim Collander speaks up about traffic problems in Chatham during Freeholder Christine Myers budget presentation
Council member Jim Collander acknowledged that the county had completed repaving of Fairmount Avenue, but noted that "It took a long time to get your attention."
Mayor Harris has worked on a draft proposal for a new train station on River Road in Chatham, which might also lead to a commuter parking garage in the same area. The first step would be to get it on the agenda of the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority.
"We've been working on this for a year and a half," Harris said. "We met with New Jersey Transit and they gave us the criteria for a new train station. I've been working with an intern and worked up a proposal. It's a draft because there is a lot of statistical data such as commuting patterns that someone would have to provide. After I circulated it to the mayors in Summit and Chatham Township and got their comments, we finalized it in March as draft and then sent it to the county and we haven't heard anything.
"Freeholder (Kathy) DeFillippo is the county's representative on the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority, which prioritizes transportation planning projects. So we need to get on their agenda. It takes years. Who knows it might serve as a place for a large commuter parking garage."