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Scotch Plains/Fanwood — News

Township Council Looks at Special Improvement District

The Alternative Press Staff

Wednesday, November 13, 2013 • 10:45pm

SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ – The Special Improvement District (SID) was one of the primary topics of discussion at Tuesday night’s Township Council meeting.

Deputy Mayor Colleen Gialanella was critical of the SID spending $33,000 on decorations for downtown.

“Other towns have competitions or have civic groups that get involved in town decoration,” Gialanella said. She went on to outline how the SID had not presented a budget or conducted an audit in a timely manner and there would not be lingering questions about decisions if “proper minutes and agendas had been done and filed with the council. I am trying to get at the heart of how we can create a system in the New Year that will work, not only for the SID but for all boards.”

Mayor Kevin Glover agreed, indicating that the SID had “not been properly managed from the outset,” with continual changes in board members, meetings held without a quorum and continuous violations of rules.

Councilman Mickey Marcus said he was concerned about “the goals, purpose and direction of the SID” and how it was important to establish specific and measurable goals with a plan on how the goals would be met.

Councilman Bo Vastine pointed out that in every other town in New Jersey that had an SID, they had been successful, and “somehow Scotch Plains has the only SID that has not been successful.”  He was of the opinion that part of the reason for this failure was too much involvement from the council. “If we keep the politicians out, I think we would accomplish something.”

While not specific vote was taken, it was suggested that there was a need for a better mix of businesses downtown, that the landlords and business owners needed to be encouraged to work together, and the need to look for a way for the SID to be more self-sustaining. Full agreement was reached on the need to establish goals and a specific plan for reaching them, but specific action was tabled for a future meeting.

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