My name is Thaddeus Kobylarz and I am running for mayor. Over nearly two years as an elected member of the Chatham Borough Council, including this past one as Budget and Finance Committee chair and member of the Planning Board, I have examined closely the workings of our municipal government, and developed a vision for Chatham’s future. We face some real challenges: a flat revenue stream with increasing costs for public services; too many empty storefronts in our downtown; frustrating traffic. But with the right approach, we can meet these challenges and make our beautiful town an even better place to live. I believe that with smart revitalization, we can preserve and enhance the charm of Chatham – its visual appeal, small-town feel, peaceful neighborhoods, and tree-canopied streets – while building a robust tax base and developing a lively and flourishing downtown.
As a Council member, with the backing of our current mayor, Bruce Harris, I am spearheading an economic revitalization initiative to attract growth-oriented startup, early-stage, and established enterprises to help foster a thriving downtown commercial zone, both along Main Street and in the two industrial districts along River Road and Commerce Street. I have gained the partnership of the Morris County Economic Development Corporation to make the Borough the centerpiece of a larger, countywide program to attract technology and innovation companies to the region. You may have already seen the yellow banners along Fairmount Avenue and Main Street with the inscriptions “Startup/Moveup Chatham” and “Destination: Innovation” on them; these are the product of this growing marketing program.
To anchor the innovation economy in Chatham, I facilitated the Borough’s partnership with the Garibaldi Group to create an innovation-oriented coworking space (“The Station”) at 14 Fairmount Avenue. The Station officially opened in July of this year and already boasts its first permanent innovation economy resident (Boxcar, an app-driven parking and transportation service) as well as over 70% of its offices leased. As more people work in Chatham at The Station and other currently empty office space, they will bolster our downtown restaurants and boutiques with their weekday purchases.
In addition to strengthening our local economy, we need to address traffic congestion and safety issues. I plan to bring in a traffic engineering team to analyze the Borough’s system of streets holistically and propose solutions, potentially in coordination with surrounding communities, rather than playing whack-a-mole with each problematic intersection; push Trenton hard for another ramp onto route 24 and for “smart traffic lights” along Main Street and Watchung Avenue; and insist that the State make permanent the electric signs providing drive times to Route 287 that were placed temporarily along Route 24 last year, resulting in some measure of traffic reduction along Main Street.
Finally, I want to make Chatham a place to thrive at all stages of life. We serve families well, especially with our fantastic schools. Chatham should also be a great place to retire. I propose that we create a Senior Advisory Committee to apprise the Mayor and Council of issues important to Chatham’s senior residents; connect seniors in need of occasional or periodic assistance (with everything from home maintenance to food shopping to shoveling snow) to a volunteer group of capable helpers; institute a phone line with daily updates on Chatham activities and meetings; and provide a shuttle that circulates along Main Street and around the Borough to convey non-driving seniors to shops, restaurants, appointments, and the Chatham Senior Center.
I invite you to learn more about my plans at https://www.chathamnjdemocrats.com/thad_kobylarz, and I hope you will reach out to me with any questions or ideas. Let’s build a more perfect Chatham together.
Chatham Borough Council Member
Candidate for Mayor