As a voting member of the Planning Board, we approved the previous developers to move forward with this project. As a member of the Borough Council I realize how important developing the Mill project is to our residents. Members of both the Borough Council and the Planning Board have been working closely with the new developer, to move the project along as quickly and responsibly as possible. I intend to continue to support the developers in bringing this project to fruition. This is a subject that comes up often while speaking to the residents in town, and once developed, the project will be one that our town can be proud of.
The walking bridge has been installed and in the coming weeks we expect the finishing touches to be completed as well. With the bridge in place I believe more people will be drawn to Memorial Park and to the businesses in our Down Town. I would encourage all residents to attend the Peddie Lake Bridge Dedication and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at Memorial Park on October 28th at 6pm.
I believe shared services are one of the ways we can ensure fiscal stability and sustainability for the future of our Borough. We have been working closely with neighboring towns to achieve this goal and with a renewed push at the State level shared services seem to be the best way a small town like ours can relieve some of our tax burden.
While we have a town that is very pedestrian friendly, we have recently received grants to add additional sidewalks and repair some of our roads. Our town is small in size with little room for development. However, when the Rug Mill is developed it will provide not only new residential space but will also bring in more business to our town.
As a lifelong resident I have seen the town go through many changes. Recently we have been heading in a positive direction for our residents and business owners. With my experience on the Planning Board and the Borough Council I have learned how the local government operates and how through cooperation and perseverance we can affect positive changes for the Borough.
I have been heading the Rug Mill redevelopment committee for several years now, working with the developer and the Borough professionals so that we can bring this important project to fruition. Although the project obtained planning board approval last year, a new developer has taken over the project which has caused some delay as they make modifications to the project. I will continue to work closely with the developer and will make sure that this project benefits the Borough and brings a new vitality to our downtown.
I will continue to perform my oversight responsibilities as a Council member. When I first joined Council almost six years ago, we were informed by our engineers that the project was going to cost significantly more than anticipated. At that point, rather than authorizing additional taxpayers funding to cover these additional costs, we decided to put the project on hold so that we could seek alternate funding sources. Soon after, I learned of a federal grant that was available which seemed a perfect for this type of project. Council applied for and was awarded that grant. Without this funding, this project may never have moved forward. This bridge is a beautiful addition to our town thanks to all the hard work by all those involved.
Growth and shared services are the key's to fiscal stability and sustainability for the near term and intermediate term. However, municipal consolidation or a greater county role in providing services is the only viable long term solution. We have executed a shared service agreements for police dispatch with East Windsor and more recently a shared municipal court with Robbinsville Township. I will continue to seek other opportunities to share services. Currently there is little incentive for larger municipalities to merge with smaller ones so more work needs to be done on the State and County levels to address this situation. In the meantime I will continue to work for the redevelopment of the rug miil and encourage growth in our downtown.
Pedestrian safety is a major concern of mine and will be a major focus of my next 3 years. I have formed the Complete Streets Committee this year to address these concerns and make Hightstown more pedestrian friendly for our residents and especially for our school children. However, the biggest issue at the present moment, is completing work on the new municipal building and police station. Since Hurricane Irene we have been operating out of make-shift facilities and it's time to move forward with the permanent facility in order to adequately serve our residents. I am on the sub-committee that is working with the architect to ensure that this project gets completed on schedule and within our budget and meets the needs of our residents.
My many years on planning board as well as my two terms on council have given me a great deal of knowledge on the workings of local government. I have seen what works and what doesn't, and how best to move things forward. In addition to that, as in my professional life, I have been involved in many major development and construction projects over the last 30 years. I believe this experience will benefit the Borough as we move the rug mill redevelopment project forward and as we build our new municipal facilities.