SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ – The Scotch Plains Management Corporation Board (SPMC) voted to approve a request from Mayor Kevin Glover to suspend billing for the 2013 year to businesses within the district.
“My motivation is simply to stop and ask the question what are we doing with the SPMC?” said Mayor Glover. “I really think the downtown needs revitalization and we need to determine priorities. The SPMC has been around for almost five years and we need to stop and take stock of what has happened in that time and really define who it should benefit.”
Businesses that are located in the designated Special Improvement District are required to pay a fee each year. This money is then meant to be spent on projects aimed at improving business, such as activities to bring people to town, and projects to make the town more appealing.
“Our new town engineers are also township planners and they can be a resource to assist with applying for grant money to improve our downtown. The real question is, what should our downtown look and feel like? We have a lot of folks who drive thru here every day, but they just don’t stop We need to get them to see what we are doing right and use that as an anchor to encourage others to come here. Our downtown just needs some focus,” said Mayor Glover.
Mayor Glover says he is “ 150 percent committed” to doing what it takes to improve the downtown, by looking at everything from cutting out some of the paperwork and encouraging new businesses to do things like putting out sidewalk cafes, to acting as an ambassador to attract new businesses.
“ Lisa Mohn has done a wonderful job of attracting people to town with the Business and Professional Association sponsored Farmer’s Market. We need more things like this to draw people. I really feel that we need to make some robust changes and things have been slow to happen due to many changes of SPMC board members and personnel,” said Mayor Glover.
However, Councilman Bo Vastine disagrees with how the changes are being brought about. “Neither the Mayor nor the SPMC Board has the authority to suspend payments. This was passed as an ordinance. This would be like an individual having a meeting in their living room and deciding to not pay taxes and think it was ok because it was voted on. We don’t have a kingdom, we have a governing body.”
According to Vastine, what needs to happen is that the SPMC Board needs to come back to the Council with a budget and make the recommendation that payments be suspended and then the entire Council needs to vote on it.
“We may ultimately end up in the same place, but there is a process to handle matters with the SPMC,” said Vastine.
While the rules of change are debated, the SPMC Board, the SPMC Chairman Dominick Verdick and Scotch Plains Business and Professional Association President Lisa Mohn are focused on “how we can do great things for the town of Scotch Plains.”
“We are forming Committees to get input, such as the Beautification Committee and the Publication Committee,” said Mohn. “It’s all about improving our town for everyone’s benefit.”