To the editor:
I have entered the race for Flemington Borough Council, driven by the arrogance, lack of leadership and lack of transparency that I see displayed by both the Mayor and Council’s handling of the Main Street Redevelopment Project. Flemington Borough will continue to suffer while its elected officials serve wealthy and powerful backers and not the citizens they pledged to serve. Specifically:
- Our Mayor and Council advocate for a developer instead of the community they pledged to serve. They continue to sell a plan that is too tall, too dense, and too expensive to taxpayers. In desperation, they claim there are no alternatives to the current plan even though they have never looked for alternatives. They deny that they bear any responsibility for prior redevelopment failures including not requiring the production of financial statements of any of the past or current redevelopers.
- Having failed us twice before, Council has never put the current Union Hotel Redevelopment Project out for bid for qualified redevelopers who would be willing to work with the borough to create the borough's vision for its future.
- There has been minimal disclosure of the tax breaks that the redeveloper is to receive; Council has not disclosed the full cost to taxpayers or has not considered the costs - either truth is inexcusable.
- Without stating the cost to taxpayers or the extent of giveaways to the developer, Council has moved forward with approvals for the project despite a lack of financial statements from the redeveloper, a traffic study, or proof that our town can handle the sewer, water, or fire emergency services implications of this project.
- The Mayor and Council’s arrogance at Council meetings is disgraceful. When speaking to residents at meetings, the Council is both patronizing and dismissive.
- The lack of transparency by the Mayor and Council should not be tolerated by the people of Flemington, including Council's refusal to discuss aspects of the project that they know to be unpopular, turn over public documents as required by law, or even disclose when meetings with the redeveloper have occurred and who was in attendance.
Flemington needs and deserves leadership that will treat all residents, businesses and prospective development partners equally, with preference only for the community for whom they serve. I “believe government is here to serve the people, not special business interest.” We need to build a new Borough Council.
Michael Harris, Flemington