To the Editor:
While many Township residents may have little personal contact with the Senior Center of the Chathams, they should be informed how Mayor Michael Kelly, all but ignores and holds our Seniors in low regard. Kelly's conduct in the handling of the Senior Center is appalling, and indicative of the way Kelly chooses to govern.
THE DISRUPTION of the Senior Center which would have occurred had Kelly's proposal to tear down and literally give away our Municipal Building, (a multi-million asset), to a contractor who in exchange would have built 65 to 72 Fair Housing Units, was literally foisted on us with no warning and very little thought as to the consequences of Kelly's harebrained plans!
Our Senior Center is a "Treasure" for the Township's older residents and in many cases their main and only source for recreation, socialization and personal support. It operates 6 days a week, 6-7 hours a day, 11 months a year. It is a reason why many Seniors choose to remain in the area.
Neither Kelly or his ardent supporter, Committeewoman Tracy Ness ever met with the Senior Centers' Board of Trustees, or the Center's full-time Director, but rather communicated in an unofficial, off the record, non-public contact with the Board's Chair.
The Center's Board, or members of the public were not involved in any of the planning. It was sprung on them with little notice in much the same manner Kelly handled the Meyersville Road residents. No Professional study was undertaken to determine the costs to relocate the Center, where it might be located for "at least two years", or how the Center would pay for the costs including moving expenses, rental costs, and upkeep of the temporary facility, let alone who would pay for the operational funding for same. Currently, the Center pays a very nominal rental for its space at Town Hall.
Apparently little thought or concern was given to where a suitable location might be found to "temporarily" house the Center, or if the new location would have adequate parking or convenient access and facilities for those using walkers or wheelchairs. No Township location was ever publicly discussed and relocating the Center to an adjacent community was a very real possibility.
Was any consideration given to studying not only the financial but also the "personal" cost to our Seniors if the accessibility and convenience of the Center's relocation would in many ways adversely impact Chatham Township, Borough and New Providence Seniors?
Ask yourself how ANY responsible elected official would come up with such a rotten plan in the first place? Fortunately Township residents, particularly those homeowners on Meyersville Road and their neighbors, came out fighting mad and forced Kelly to abandon his plan which not only would have impacted the Senior Center but also the entire Meyersville Road area and destroy what is now our Town Hall.
If you can believe it, Kelly's plans didn't even specify the specific costs to relocate and build a new Municipal Hall, or designate a suitable area where it would be located! No adjacent "neighbors" were apparently even considered.
A number of Township residents and taxpayers have publicly voiced their displeasure over the way Kelly conducts Township affairs, holding hearings without even trying to involve or contact those affected by his derelict governance, which he carries out in a "cavalier" fashion.
His inept handling of the Fair Housing issues, his disregard for property owners, volunteers who have served the Township, his two-faced attempts to convince residents he is acting in their best interests, "his coffees", where he was said to "have told people what they wanted to hear, but not reveal the entire story", was a part of his playbook until the Township Attorney intervened to stop him.
Once elected he packed Township Boards with his cronies and Democrat supporters. He promised "Non-Partisan" governance, a pledge to maintain low taxes and to run a friendly, responsive Township Committee. So much for his "promises"!
Expect a tax increase approximating 15% when adding the Municipal tax (.12%) with School Taxes (.03%).
To measure Kelly's inept governance, look to how poorly he runs Township Meetings. The recent open meetings are a disaster in that few residents calling in can even be understood let alone heard! Kelly has yet to realize that when he runs the public session of meetings, a statement or question from the floor should be repeated before he tries to reply to some unintelligible exchange.
Change the way Kelly runs our community. You can reject Kelly for his unacceptable governance, and his total disregard for our residents, by voting for Ashley Felice and Mark Hamilton in the upcoming Republican Primary election. Change the way our Township is being governed. Show Kelly "the door" like you did when rejecting Tayfun Selen's re-election in last year's Primary.
Bailey Brower, Jr.
Previous Mayor, 4 term Committeeman, and a life long resident who served on Township Boards for 28 years.