Dear Editor:

After hearing from numerous friends that “Madison was the best town,” my husband and I made the decision in 2010 to move here from a neighboring community. Seven years later we couldn’t be happier. We love the friendly, down-to-earth people in town, the strong sense of community and our beautiful downtown. We truly consider Madison a hidden gem.

Over the past few years, however, I’ve noticed a number of changes in our community that are concerning. For starters, our taxes have increased an excessive amount in just 7 years, while our property values have declined. I’ve seen increased class sizes at MJS, terrible conditions on the MJS field, and extensive residential construction in our quaint downtown. 

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While it’s very nice to be a “Welcoming Community,” we need to seriously consider how the increased number of students, many of whom are recent immigrants or perhaps visiting from another country, impacts our children, teachers and the learning environment in our schools. 

I am very passionate about reaching out to those less fortunate—my husband and I support and are active in several local causes. However, when our taxes are increasing at an accelerated rate (6.4% increase since 2014 according to NJ Monthly—4th highest increase of Top 50 rated towns), our school ratings are down (#32 in 2016 NJ Monthly vs. #15 in 2010), our property values are down (-7.4% median price change since 2014 according to 2017 NJ Monthly versus a 6.9% increase for the average of the top 50 rated towns), our electric rates are significantly higher than neighboring towns and MJS is outgrowing its current structure, I think we have to carefully examine our path for the future.

I had the pleasure of meeting Ron Hendrickson at Bottle Hill Day. The first thing he asked me was, “What’s important to you in Madison?” We had a 20-minute conversation discussing everything from education to recreation, and I loved what Ron had to say. We discussed agenda items that would truly benefit all Madison residents, regardless of your political affiliation. 

Ron Hendrickson is a Ph.D. research scientist at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York City with a strong intellect and, among other strengths, a strong understanding of technology and how it could positively affect our community. He would be a tremendous asset to Madison as a member of the Borough Council.

Although I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting Denis Schreiber, I firmly believe his extensive financial background and shared platform with Ron would be beneficial to our town. 

As many of you know, our current Madison borough council consists of 5 Democrats, one Republican and our Democratic mayor. With such a strong Democratic majority, I feel there is a lack of healthy debate over issues potentially affecting the quality of life in our town. (Are Madison’s voters aware that the 5 democrats have voted as a bloc on every issue over the past 5 years?)

I believe Ron and Denis would provide some balance to the council and would be an important voice for “what matters most” to all of us. And, more importantly, ensure a healthy and active debate on critical issues affecting or community.

Whether Republican, Democrat or Independent, please consider what is in the best interest of our wonderful town when you head to the polls on November 7th. The Green Village developer (KRE) markets Madison as having “the distinct Norman Rockwell quality” of downtown.

Will the massive structure like Madison Place change the feel of our charming downtown? Will additional multi-unit residential developments impact our schools and traffic? Will the traffic driving to and from Route 24 through Madison and Chatham become an even greater source of frustration? Will higher taxes and lower school ratings affect the desirability of our town and our real estate values?

I am in full support of modernizing our historic downtown and making it easier for business owners to succeed, but I fear overdevelopment of residential apartments could be very detrimental to our community, and I am concerned that there has not been a healthy debate with all views considered on these and other issues facing our borough council.

In closing, we absolutely love Madison and feel blessed to have so many dear friends and neighbors.  We are proud to live here and greatly enjoy contributing to our community. Let’s do our best to strike a balance on our borough council so our representatives have the opportunity to work more effectively together for what is in the best interest of our entire community.

Thank you,

Claudia Dattoma McIntyre

West Lane