MILLBURN, NJ - The following is a candidate statement from Ian Mount.
Dear Millburn – Short Hills Residents:
For the past three years, I’ve proudly served on the Township Committee, and for the past year as Deputy Mayor. I take the job and my duties seriously, and have done my best to perform them with the diligence and professionalism that the residents of our outstanding hometown deserve.
There are times as a public servant when we are confronted by criticisms and actions that flatly contradict what we know to be accurate, reasonable and informed. Those moments often tend to coincide with election season – and never more so than this year.
And never more so than with Complete Streets. The misinformation, fear tactics and other actions taken by our opponents have gone beyond campaign rhetoric. They have done a disservice to our town, bringing in negative publicity and anxiety.
Regardless, the responsibility Ted and I have is to keep focused and to set an example as representatives of the community we serve.
So, before voting tomorrow, if you are concerned with Complete Streets, I ask you to go to the Township website (www.twp.millburn.nj.us – left hand side – Complete Streets) and review the FAQ’s, history, plans and other materials.
I ask you when doing so, to keep in mind why we embarked on this – serious resident concerns with pedestrian safety, traffic congestion, and speeding, and a lack of downtown vitality for our businesses. Compare the plan against these four objectives.
When you review the materials, I believe you will see that this was done with extensive public and stakeholder input, and with extensive expert analysis – in a diligent and comprehensive manner. As an aside, through the many forums available to our residents, including Committee meetings, our opponents attended none.
Because the Complete Streets project is under construction, it’s an easy target for campaign season criticism. And yes, it is a nuisance to our residents and a disruption to our businesses in the short term. What’s important is that we are taking proactive steps to address serious problems and improve our downtown for the future. The construction work is temporary, but the benefits will be long lasting.
Assertions have been made that the Complete Streets project was moved ahead without transparency. I believe the catch phrase is “We need a review.” I’d like to address that misinformation with facts. For more than two years, the plan was designed and engineered by a highly experienced team of multi-disciplinary professionals in close coordination with our police department, fire department, DPW, emergency services, township engineers, township construction official, township forester and administrative staff – all of whom still participate in our job meetings each week. As you will see on the website, our community, business and stakeholder outreach was not only extensive; it was a crucially important aspect in the development of our final design.
There have also been statements made about the “many mistakes” in the fundamental design elements of the Millburn Complete Streets project. To be clear, those statements are opinions. Those opinions are refuted by all of the expert engineers, designers and credentialed professionals that have participated in the project, and they don’t withstand scrutiny. Again, I encourage you to visit the website and see the FAQ’s. Complete Streets is a critically important program for our downtown, so it’s essential that we separate rhetoric from reality.
We fully recognize and are highly sensitive to the fact that the construction is a disruption, but we can’t build the project without doing the work. We are taking every possible step to minimize the impact, but the work is necessary for the long-term safety and vitality of our downtown. The idea that the project should be stopped mid-stream is misguided, impractical and, in both the near and long term, irresponsible. That ill-conceived course of action would negatively impact the future of our town and businesses indefinitely, well beyond the temporary disruption of construction.
There are instances when we know we can do better, and any downtown construction job comes with its share of headaches, but that has no bearing whatsoever on the need, purpose, advisability and benefits of the thoroughly vetted measures we are taking with Complete Streets to help our downtown for the long term.
I was born and raised in this town, and my wife is a downtown business owner. Our children go to school here, and we want Millburn to be as strong and thriving community for them as it was for me.
That is the reason I support Complete Streets. That is the reason why I want to see it through.
We are an educated, sophisticated and successful community. I hope and believe that our residents will see the need for positive steps and real action for the future benefit of the entire community.
We need level-headed, informed and proactive leaders on our Township Committee, with the fortitude and foresight to get things done and achieve real progress. I’ve been honored to have the opportunity to work toward those goals the past three years and would look forward to continuing that work for the next three.