I moved to Chatham 17 years ago because of the great schools, abundant green space compared to the rest of New Jersey, and the relatively low property taxes. My main objective as a Township Committee person beginning in January is to maintain all of those advantages for our community.
I have served on the Chatham Township Environmental Commission for ten years, so I am quite familiar with the way the Township Committee operates, and how it cooperates with the other committees such as the Planning Board and Environmental Commission. I plan to do a lot of homework to understand the finances: the budget, sources of funding, taxation formulas and whatever else is required for decision-making.
While much of the Township Committee’s work is reactive to resident’s requests or requirements by the state, I will also challenge myself become involved in creative projects that are good for the town.
One issue I feel strongly about is increased connectivity for residents. By connectivity I mean both physical pathways between municipal open space properties, and virtual pathways of communication with the government.
The Township Greenway project -- biking/walking paths between our municipal open space parcels—needs more momentum. Walking/biking paths add to our quality of life by promoting exercise, interpersonal contact, and access to nature. The open space parcels we can connect are schools, recreation fields, a future community garden, and public green areas such as the Passaic River.
A specific connectivity project I am working on as a member of the Environmental Commission is called Safe Routes to School. We are teaming up with principals, students, teachers and parents to make it easier, safer and, frankly, more popular, to walk or bike to school. After this education and evaluation, we will earn the right to state transportation funds for new, key sidewalks. Safe Routes would benefit all residents.
My ideas for improvements in communication are enhancements to the Township website, more postings on the public access channel, and more email to residents who request it. An example of better communication on the Township website would be complete text of pending ordinances, An example of better information on the public access channels would be a “how to” video on the new “single stream” recycling. An example of direct email would be notification about what disturbances the electric and gas utilities are doing in the power line corridor, or solicitation of comments on the Colony Pool renovation.