SOMERSET HILLS, NJ - The "Mayors for Main Street" alliance, with membership including mayors from four Somerset Hills towns and others in Somerset, Morris, Warren, and Somerset counties, on Thursday announced a letter had been sent to the governor's office, legislative leaders and district representatives and county officials to outlining a list of actions sought to help reopen and lift restrictions on businesses in their communities.
The letter also asks government officials for help in alleviating the struggles that many residents are facing, according to the group.
The letter lays out a number of points that the mayors agreed were "appropriate and necessary steps" to take toward reopening.
1. Allow for more localized policies: Right now, the state is implementing a “one size fits all” approach to the virus, but the reality is that different communities are differently situated, according to a release from the group. "Statewide policies should be flexible to allow for individual mayors and municipalities to determine what works best for their communities based on their specific circumstances."
2. Safely open all “non-essential” businesses: "We ask the State to issue clear guidance on how businesses can practice safe social distancing while having their business open. This guidance could include formulas relating to the square footage of the facility and correlating that to the number of individuals allowed into the business at any given time and updating directions on the use of PPE for both employees and patrons."
3. Safely Open Child Care Facilities: "We recommend that the state allow the reopening of day care facilities to the public and issue the related public health guidance to allow them to do so safely. Access to a family’s existing child care arrangements is critical to restarting our economy. Even parents who have the opportunity to work could be stymied with lack of child care options. In the same vein, we implore the state to issue clear guidance to operator’s of summer camps and similar businesses that will allow them to open as the school year comes to a close."
4. Ease restrictions on the food service industry: Allow restaurants to open to customers for limited in-house dining and allow restaurants, with the capability, to utilize outdoor seating for their patrons.
5. Focus on those residents most at risk: "We know now that senior citizens, especially those in long terms care facilities, are the segment of the population most at risk of contracting and passing away from COVID-19. Allow municipalities to implement smart business practices to protect those senior and at-risk residents without the overreaching impacts on the rest of the community. For instance, the group suggesting permitting stores to open with special times for seniors as many of the supermarkets have already done, and to provide funding for food and safety supplies to be made available to at-risk individuals and long-term care facilities as needed.
The letter also states, "Local elected officials are more connected to the community they represent than any other public official, and it is incumbent upon us as mayors to advocate for the needs of our communities. We have heard those needs loud and clear and now we need you to act."
The "Mayors for Main Street" group is an alliance of some mayors representing towns in four New Jersey Counties. The group's stated mission is to advocate for the swift and safe reopening of businesses within their communities.
"Businesses that have been drastically and negativity impacted due to the COVID-19 pandemic," the release said. "It also serves as a platform for local elected officials to share experiences, ideas and best practices."
The "Mayors for Main Street" group includes the following New Jersey mayors:
• Mayor Marcia Asdal, Chester Township, Morris County
• Mayor James Baldassare, Bernards Township, Somerset County
• Mayor Zachery Bray, Raritan Borough, Somerset County
• Mayor Mary Jane Canose, Borough of Bernardsville, Somerset County
• Mayor Jason Cilento, Dunellen Borough, Middlesex County
• Mayor Christine Serrano Glassner, Mendham Borough, Morris County
• Mayor Jeff Herb, White Township, Warren County
• Mayor Janet Hoven, Chester Borough, Morris County
• Mayor Larry Jacobs, Township of Bedminster, Somerset County
• Mayor Jim Mengucci, Lopatcong Township. Warren County
• Mayor Matthew Moench, Bridgewater Township
• Mayor Michael "Mick" Marion, Warren Township, Somerset County
• Mayor Matthew Murello, Washington Township, Morris County
• Mayor Sarah Neibart, Mendham Township, Morris County
• Mayor Richard Onderko, Manville Borough, Somerset County
• Mayor Todd Tersigni, Phillipsburg, Warren County
• Mayor Brian Tipton, Harmony Township, Warren County
• Mayor Doug Tomson, Hillsborough Township, Somerset County
• Mayor Paul Vallone, Far Hills Borough, Somerset County