It must be said that Priya Patel's letter is certainly full of heartfelt kindness - coming only from a good place. That is very clear.
That said, unless you descend from indigenous, Native Americans - we are all immigrants. All of us. Though many are born here, like you - our predecessors all came from somewhere else. All seeking a better life. Many seeking refuge.
So please understand that no one - NO ONE - is trying to exclude any type or group of people. That is not what this heated issue is about at all.
You said you have lived in and become part of our wonderful community for 5 years now. I have been here for almost 30 years - this is only significant because I have seen many more changes - I raised my family here.
Our schools are all at capacity. We had to open The Washington school to manage the township’s increased enrollment. I’m not sure if you were living here when we had trailers set up on school properties to function as temporary classrooms to accommodate all the students, or if you were here when they had to take away art and music classrooms - art on a cart - to allow room for the growing population.
I’ve heard over and over about how short lunch periods are to accommodate everyone. It stresses our children. Lunch should be a respite.
If you ask anyone in this town why they moved here - almost universally - the resounding answer is our schools. So why on earth would we want to compromise the integrity of our schools? Our schools are at capacity AND between all the proposed, new developments in town - it would almost certainly add hundreds of children to our already at capacity schools.
Where do you propose we put all these new, nice children? Expansion of the schools is very, very expensive and likely not even feasible in many cases. Who will pay for this - with the already soaring taxes in our town??
Yes, we are obligated by law to provide a certain amount of low income housing and no one is disputing or objecting to that.
But radically changing the landscape of a neighborhood - like Chatham Road - will absolutely devastate that area in every way. Just the traffic alone would be unimaginable. Tragically, we just had a pedestrian killed in that area and that’s without drastically increased traffic, which by the way is a short distance from where young, elementary school students walk to and from school.
Many people moan about the current traffic to get into and drive around our downtown. What do you think these proposed developments would do to add to that??? Agnes Sym recognizes all of this and is proposing that we explore other options. How, how, how is this bad?
To compare her to the despot in The White House is preposterous and also egregious. Especially as her family - like ALL of ours - are descended from immigrants. Our community IS welcoming and warm. Your digression about luxury cars and brand name stores and yada yada yada has nothing to do with - well anything. It’s one thing to welcome all new neighbors as it happens naturally but when it’s proposed to be forced - en masse - again hundreds of new children busting into our bursting schools - it will decimate our wonderful community as we know it. You do realize that the primary justification for our high taxes IS OUR INCREDIBLE SCHOOLS.
We do not live in a world of unicorns and Big Rock Candy Mountains. Every action and decision must be ever so carefully weighed and debated. These decisions will be irrevocable and will change our beloved landscape - literally and figuratively - forever.
Agnes Sym has all of our best interests at heart and not those of the greedy developers. She personally has a lot at stake - she is raising her young family here, too.
I applaud her intelligence, commitment to and passion for Millburn/Short Hills, her fresh approach, and her willingness to stand up strongly for us.
Michele Salt Horn