I am Paul Grosswald, the Democratic Candidate for Common Council in Ward 1. Summit's Common Council has made poor choices when it comes to investing our tax dollars. This has been evidenced most recently with the nearly $750 thousand dollars spent on installation of parking lot gates at the DeForest Avenue lots. The gates create dangerous conditions when cars are backed up trying to enter or exit the lots. The ticket machines by the gates are positioned incorrectly, causing many drivers to have to exit their vehicles to put the ticket in. The gates make Summit look unwelcoming when compared with other local downtown shopping districts, such as Millburn and Maplewood, that do not use gates.
Even worse, the gates regularly do not work. Summit residents and visitors often avoid using the lots, or choose not to return to downtown Summit after a bad experience with the gates. Just recently I helped a woman who got trapped behind the gates. There was no parking ambassador on duty. No one responded to the woman's attempts to contact someone. She had to call the police to get her out. The woman was frantic. She kept saying this was making her late for an appointment. Do you think that woman is going to shop in downtown Summit again?
After it became apparent that people were unhappy with the DeForest Avenue parking lots, Council responded by spending $650 thousand to "beautify" DeForest Avenue, as if that were the problem.
Now, Council has taken the first steps towards implementing a new parking plan that will cost tens of millions of dollars and which will ruin the visual appeal of the area alongside The Village Green. The plan would require the post office to relocate to a small retail storefront so that a multi-story parking garage could be erected in its place. If Council follows through on this plan it would be a huge mistake. The Post Office and its historic building provide a viable, heavily utilized and attractive core of Summit's Downtown and should remain intact on The Village Green.
Summit residents are not asking for another parking garage. So who would benefit from such a project? One person who has expressed an interest in the project is a real estate developer who happens to also be business partners with my opponent, the Council President. So is this project being pursued to benefit Summit or to benefit special interests?
It is apparent that the viewpoints of the Council members are not aligned with those of their constituents. While Council is willing to waste tens of millions of our tax dollars on unneeded parking garages, education remains underfunded, the police department remains understaffed, speeding is not enforced, and certain areas of downtown remain inaccessible to seniors and disabled people. Summit residents need to have a voice on Common Council. If elected, I will listen to your concerns, hear your voice, and support the Summit Community, not special interests. Please vote for Paul Grosswald in Row 8, Column A on November 4.
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