The Borough Council recently adopted a Redevelopment Plan that Councilmen Hutchison and Trenga promise will revitalize the Downtown. But if you really look at what’s in the plan, you’ll see it won’t work.
Have you visited our historic downtown lately? You won’t like what you see. Numerous empty stores, some of which were there for decades, dot the landscape. Cifelli’s and Becker’s news stand are gone, Old Dogs New Tricks is gone, and Lee’s Auto Parts and Appleby Insurance are leaving. Businesses new and old find success impossible. Overgrown trees hide the stores that are left and uplifted pavers make walking the downtown a risky adventure. This is the legacy of the terrible decisions our Council incumbents have made over the last 10 years.
Councilmen Hutchison and Trenga have been promising us for years to improve the Downtown and bring in new businesses but they have done exactly the opposite. They have increased taxes numerous times, 10% in the last two years alone. They have increased electric rates, making ours the highest in the entire state of NJ (see graph below). They increased permit and inspection fees, making it even more difficult to open a business in town. Talk to any businesses that have opened or tried to open recently, and you’ll find that our regulations are a nightmare! And as businesses leave, why would anyone want to come here under these conditions?
The Redevelopment Plan provides no real benefits to a developer coming in to the town. Only businesses with a Mercantile License can benefit from the plan, so new entities are ineligible. According to the Planner at the last Council Meeting, a developer would only save about $5000 on a $1 million dollar project. Yet the Agency designated to run the Plan would have a Director and Staff for which no one could tell us how they would be paid. And worse, the Redevelopment Agency approved by the Council has condemnation listed as one of its powers. Councilman Jones and I asked for that to be removed, but we were voted down.
More of Councilmen Hutchison and Trenga bad ideas won’t fix the Downtown. They have to go!