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Finance Board Approves Consolidation Study

Study to join the two towns will now move forward


The Local Finance Board in Trenton approved the application to study the consolidation of Scotch Plains and Fanwood on Wednesday afternoon.

Gina Genovese, Executive Director of Courage to Re-Connect, said this is a great day for taxpayers in New Jersey.

Members of the Finance Board, Mayor Mahr and attorney were present at the meeting.

To move forward, citizens will appoint two commisioners, one from each town.

Additionally each town's council will choose a commissioner for the board. Then each four person group from each town will choose a fifth person for their group.

In total, their will be 10 commisioners from both towns. The study will be completed over the next three years.

The movement for this study has been completely driven by citizens. Genovese hopes this will save tax dollars for citizens and improve services.

Read more about the consolidation, in the Patch article, ""

Check scotchplains.patch.com for more updates on this story.

SPF Patch will meet with Mayor Mahr on Friday morning.


How do you feel about a possible consolidation?

Holden MaGroin September 14, 2012 at 04:12 PM
I'm Holden MaGroin and this is for Mr. Wall. Herbie does not have religion. I think that means he's an antagonistic. Anyway, he's German and does like his ham. His wife Bygby is the religious one, but we try not to discuss religion or politics with her.
Holden MaGroin September 14, 2012 at 04:30 PM
I'm Holden MaGroin and now I'm a little confused. As a faithful Patch reader, I try to read every article to show my support for our local paper. I've attached a link for a photo from the article about our Patriotic Scotch Plains Republicans beginning their campaign. My confusion comes from the italics under the headline that says the information is coming from the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Republican committee. How come the Patriotic Republicans can be merged for the two towns but the Fanwood ones are against the town merger? Don't they share a patriotic platform? If they don't, is that why in the picture it looks like SP candidate Saridaki is leaning away from Fanwood candidate Manduca and has a look like he's eaten bad sushi as Candidate Manduca is speaking? All in all, very confusing. http://scotchplains.patch.com/articles/scotch-plains-republican-campaign-well-underway#photo-9720953
Michael Lewis September 14, 2012 at 07:24 PM
Was it not Abraham Lincoln who said "With malice toward none, with charity for all"? Surely that extends to my sectarian brethren in Scotch Plains - after all, we are a big tent. This actually appears to be a mismatch of press release / story with photo - in this case one of a debate featuring local candidates but sponsored by the local Tea Party back in April: http://scotchplains.patch.com/articles/spf-candidates-debate-local-issues-for-the-tea-party#photo-9721023 Besides, our own Mayor Mahr broke bread with her SP Democratic cohort not that long ago - perhaps easier with Glover backing away from the whole notion of "control" of the police department or (as I said then) perhaps it is just that the Democrats just like a good party.
Michael Lewis September 14, 2012 at 07:28 PM
Be careful about sushi comments - might have to defend the honor of Fanwood sushi too...
firedup49 September 14, 2012 at 08:56 PM
In a past Patch article I thought this was interesting. I always try to look behind the curtain. "SP Mayor Malool to Resign for New Job" Beginning in May, Malool will take on the role of the Director of the Shared Services within the division of Local Government Services in the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. The Mayor stated that a state policy will prevent her from holding elected office while she works in state government. As the Director of Shared Services, Malool will work with local governments across the state to facilitate positive change; helping neighboring towns save money and cultivate new ideas for the use of shared services.  Malool will also aid in the development of related legislation, such as the new consolidation law championed by Courage to Reconnect. http://scotchplains.patch.com/articles/sp-mayor-malool-to-resign-drops-out-of-election-race
Holden MaGroin September 14, 2012 at 10:11 PM
I'm Holden MaGroin and this is for Mr. Lewis. Does this mean that there is also a Scotch Plains-Fanwood Democrat committee as well? Now I'm really confused. Do our 2 towns' political parties work in a merger environment, but don't want the actual towns to be merged? Our big tent has 2 mayors, 2 police chiefs, 2 judges, 2 prosecutors, not sure how many lawyers, but we know there's 1 more now than there was in June. (that special one hired for $5k this summer by Fanwood to tell everyone how they spend their money wisely) and I go on and on. Since you mention a Lincoln quote and also the tea party I will add one of Lincoln's comments as well, "If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." Abe seems to have had the ability to not like the tea party 150 years before they even came out. He was a wise man indeed. As far as sushi, no disrespect to any Fanwood sushi, as a good Irishman and a sushi fan, I have a soft spot for "ginger" sushi in Fanwood. I still think Mr. Saridaki is leaning away from Mr. Manduca and that he seems like he could use a Brioschi.
Holden MaGroin September 14, 2012 at 10:22 PM
I'm Holden MaGroin and this is for firedup. I always thought that when someone looked behind the curtain it was because the curtain was hiding something. What exactly is the curtain hiding if it was the headline in the paper? I would like to add that I also like to pat myself on the back, the only problem is that sometimes you can sprain your shoulder.
faith September 15, 2012 at 12:43 AM
holden this is great. i cannot stop laughing. loved yr last sentence. great comment.
Spare us September 15, 2012 at 01:05 AM
I find all of firedup49 comments useful. The mention of the previous patch article clears things up for those of us who don't spend all day studying and stalking the patch looking to argue or make fun of everyone. SP former Mayor Malool resigned for a position that is directly related to consolidation. SP council voted before she quit, to support the study. That adds further clarity for some of us who don't have all the facts, it's obvious why the officials of SP and Fanwood are on opposite sides with this. Fanwood was blindsided
Holden MaGroin September 15, 2012 at 02:02 AM
I'm Holden MaGroin and I fear that Spare us may be commenting about me. If I could I would like like to address some of your concerns or observations. I also find firedup's comments helpful and even say so in this thread. I especially found his comments on how to donate to the Connector organization as a community service and defended him when he had his comments deleted. I even went so far as to show people how to find his deleted comments. In regards to studying, I still have my old report cards and they will prove that I'm not very good at studying. Ditto an ancient police report that will show I don't stalk well either. (alright that was a joke). I do take offense to you saying I spend all day on the Patch. From the time stamp on this post you will see I also come on at night. Feel free to click on my name to read my comments. I don't really argue with people too much and those I sometimes make fun of are usually self-righteous or a politician. Sorry if I'm being redundant. If you find any posts on this thread or an old one where you have a problem with my words, let me know and I will be happy to defend them. Now I'll ask you, how exactly was Fanwood blindsided? Because the former mayor took a state job that even a boob like me was aware she was looking for? I don't often give the council much credit, but by your words you would have them operating in a bubble. They weren't blindsided. Go ask them.
FanwoodMom September 15, 2012 at 02:27 AM
I guess the point I was trying to make was, if we will see a savings in taxes, and if becoming one town means addressing the overcrowded school situation, then I could be persuaded to consider consolidation. If there is no tax savings and no improvement to our overcrowding problem, then I don't think it is worth it to spend money on the study.
Holden MaGroin September 15, 2012 at 03:26 AM
I'm Holden MaGroin and I will try again. A merger should lower taxes somewhat because there won't be 2 of as many things like police chiefs and judges and lawyers. Fanwoodmon you keep talking about being in favor if the merger will address the schools. This merger doesn't have anything to do with the schools. You tried to clarify your point, but your point is missing something. You can't connect what you're not happy with (the schools) with the merger. You're certainly entitled to be against the merger, but I think you would need a different reason. Also, we have kids in 3 schools, little Craven in elementary, Cheq in middle, and Tug in the high school. What schools are you finding over crowded?
firedup49 September 16, 2012 at 01:35 AM
Good evening, Holden MaGrion, the PO Box given by Courage to Connect is also the PO Box of Gina's Tennis World Berkley Heights. I find odd should it not have its own address for donation purposes? (you can google the PO Box address and you will see). I feel the good people of Scotch Plains and Fanwood are being blindsided. The lure is saving taxes. I like to see all the facts, before I can agree....What I have researched since Gina first came to SP I am not sold..
Michael Lewis September 16, 2012 at 04:05 AM
@Holden and @Spare Us - It does get confusing and to jog MY memory I have tried to put together a timeline - please correct as necessary. 1/10/12: Fanwood Council unanimously passes resolution in support of pursuing police merger (I was there for this one but do not recall if "joint meeting" came up now or at a later meeting in response to a question...SP Patch, 1/11/12). There is to be a meeting with SP on 1/19 to discuss further, with subsequent report back. 1/17/12: SP Council passes similar resolution AND suppporting a study commission to assess the pros and cons of consolidation 4-1 (Marcus against, SP Times 1/19). The 1/19 joint meeting evidently happened but nothing much else did until Mayor Malool published a letter professing PERSONAL support for a straight contractural arrangement with Fanwood, and again, ultimate full consolidation (SP Patch, 3/13). Councilmembers DePaola and Vastine publish their own letter stating that - essentially - either "joint meeting" or straight contract lead to the same result (SP Patch 3/13). SP Democratic Chair shows a sense of humor in his own letter about SP Republican division (SP Patch 3/15). My conclusions follow below...
Michael Lewis September 16, 2012 at 04:21 AM
...cont'd...These are only my conclusions. 1) SP's officials were more anxious to push further and faster than those of Fanwood. 2) This issue came up in the joint discussion between SP and Fanwood on 1/19, together with issues relating to actual control, funding and layoffs impacting on the two police departments. 3) To the extent that there was blindsiding of Fanwood's officials, it was in the fact that certain aspects of the ongoing discussions were made public in Mayor Malool's letter. 4) Mayor Malool was herself blindsided by Councilmembers DePaola and Vastine. And (for me) the most interesting point, 5) Councilmember Glover DID in fact back away from his position in support of consolidation (or at least control of a merged police department) back in January when he spoke at the third Courage to Reconnect public meeting a month or two ago (I was there, and I found it surprising then and was not sure if my memory was playing tricks). As I said in the beginning, it DOES get confusing.
Builda Wall September 16, 2012 at 05:39 AM
Although I'm currently more focused on moving forward with plans to present my proposed merger of Scotch Plains and Plainfield (you cannot deny Scotch Plainfield has a nice ring to it) to Mayor DePaola and the council I nevertheless seem to recall the Fanwood council making the police chief's job there permanent or forever and ever or something--which at the time was assumed by council watchers to be an action taken in response to SP's merger discussions. I likewise doubt that our towns' joint Republican and joint Democrat groups don't discuss what's going on in their respective council meetings especially when it concerns something potentially big like a merger or whether the Chippery will ever reopen. By the way, if you're at the light at Snuffy's and trying to make a left onto Mountain ave, why does the green arrow never appear? And why does the banner currently over Park ave announcing Scotch Plains Day not actually say what day it is? (It's Oct 7th according to the town website.) Or how is it possible that the new BP station next to Bowcraft is currently 30 cents less per gallon than the BP next to the train station in Westfield?
Michael Lewis September 16, 2012 at 01:26 PM
Oddly enough, "Scotch Plains" would work here and would save the taxpayers of both communities money (would not have to change letterheads). Of course there is the whole "identity" issue...the Plainfield train station would have to be renamed.
Michael Lewis September 16, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Removal of Chief Trigo's "interim" status occurred after the delivery of the original Mason report but before its release to the public (as was the announcement of the agreement with the County to take on dispatch, which was cited in the Mason report as being one of the major potential cost savings associated with a merger of the police departments). The timing here was interesting.
Holden MaGroin September 16, 2012 at 02:26 PM
I'm Holden MaGroin and this is for firedup. Good morning. I agree that one would think that there should be a separate PO box for the Conector donations. It would make for less confusion unless people use the Paypal link that you provided and some hater must have deleted. But I don't think there's anything secretive about it. She seems to be pretty open about here background, although I never knew she was a world ranked tennis player when she was younger. Maybe there's something there we can find behind a curtain? I think that Spare us seems pretty "firedup" as well. I know that I've had to use other names at times when I comment on articles that are seen outside of Union county. The Patch editors outside our county don't seem to like my name. But I've never had to use a different name to support a Holden comment.
Holden MaGroin September 16, 2012 at 02:44 PM
I'm Holden MaGroin and this is for Mr Lewis. Thanks for the timeline and I would agree that the only blindsiding that the firedup Spare us mentioned was when substitute mayor DePaola was told by the patriotic leader of the republicans that it was time to throw Mayor Malool out for not listening to the honorable patriotic Mr Marks. If I recall the patriotic Mr Marks was not happy when Malool changed town lawyers. I thought that that was a mayors prerogative unless the lawyer was a boyhood friend of the patriotic Mr Marks. I also recall that Malool made enemies by acting unpatriotic in backing her republican colleague Mr Bratti during the election even though the older patriotic republicans didn't want him because he too didn't always do what he was told to do. So yes, there was blind siding but it can from the king/queen makers at the top of the patriot party. As far as Fanwood, you correctly note that they too were in the loop when they changed police chiefs Trigo's status from temporary to permanent 10 days before the consolidation report came out. So no, Fanwood was hardly blind sided and have been trying everything they can to obstruct a vote coming to the voters. I have to believe that if this gets passed the committee and goes for a citizens vote that we will come to see the $5,000 Fanwood just spent on another lawyer to report on how they spend tax money wisely will look like chump change in comparison to what they will spend in "vote no" propaganda.
Jenni September 16, 2012 at 03:53 PM
Like I said above and a few others have too, unless the state starts sending SPF BOE more money, the savings of this proposed consolidation will be very minimal. And Princeton's consolidation cost was more than their study anticipated. They were lucky that Princeton University donated $500K to help off set these unexpected additional consolidation costs. Who would help SPF? And, the schools we already share run with bare minimums. The School system is an example of sharing that does not seem so wonderful. BOE has no money to maintain the buildings. One example is the HS, it has an over 50 year old HVAC that is in desperate need of repairs. And a leaky roof... The list goes on ...
Jenni September 16, 2012 at 07:00 PM
http://spf-teaparty.org/state/issues/item/DohertyAmendment This is a solution to our high taxes
Spare us September 16, 2012 at 07:06 PM
Uh Jenni, you seem to be the only one talking about Trenton on here. What do you think the costs would be if we had two school districts? If I'm correct, every school building is in Scotch Plains.
Jenni September 16, 2012 at 08:22 PM
no spare us #2, I am not the only one talking about Trenton/schools. I am not suggesting 2 school districts, together our kids/schools do without a lot already. Did you see my link above? My reason for bringing up schoosl is that is where most of our money goes. IF consolidating the 2 towns would benefit our schools by allowing the consolidated town more school funding, then i say go for it. Pretty sure that's not gonna happen. Pretty sure when the study is complete the savings for the consolidated police, department of public works and adminstration, will not be much.
Spare us September 16, 2012 at 08:48 PM
Jenni, why are you calling me a #2? That's rude and I don't think you should insult me. I reread this thread and with the exception of DPW slowness causing leaves to pile near school, you ARE the only one talking schools on an article about town consolidation. Your Tea Party link about Dougherty's proposal is apples to oranges in regards to this discussion.
Jenni September 16, 2012 at 09:27 PM
I was not calling you a #2, I referred to you as spare us #2 because i saw a different spare us above who was arguing with holden. There are plenty of people posting all kinds of things on this thread,not directly apples to apples, so I am not sure why you want to pick on me? but I am sorry you thought i called you something gross
Michael Lewis September 16, 2012 at 09:42 PM
Actually, you are both right. Jenni is correct in saying that - in terms of an impact on property taxes - adjustment of the school funding formula would probably have a far greater impact than savings from consolidating the two towns. However, beyond obliquely-worded resolutions from both town councils in support of Senator Doherty's proposal, petitioning our BOE to pass one (I have never received a straight answer as to why it does not...), and a letter-writing campaign to our state legislators (particularly one former Mayor of Fanwood) there is little that can be done at this level. It has to be taken up at the state level. But if EVER there was a reason why the electorate should have Initiative and Referendum for issues other than town consolidation, this is indeed it.
Spare us September 16, 2012 at 09:50 PM
Jenni. I'm the same one from before. Why do you think I'm different?
bgporter September 17, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Hi, Jenni -- your info is out of date. Several of the schools were shut down this summer for roof repairs (the Creative Summer Workshops, traditionally held at School One were relocated to TMS for that reason) and the HVAC at the high school was replaced this summer, viz: www.goleader.com/12aug30/03.pdf My son's CAD teacher is apparently very easily agitated when the classroom door's left open and chilled air spills out.
Nicole Bitette (Editor) September 17, 2012 at 07:56 PM
Hi everyone: Check out what Fanwood Mayor, Colleen Mahr and Scotch Plains Mayor Mary DePaola and SP Councilman Ed Saridaki had to say about the consolidation study. http://scotchplains.patch.com/articles/fanwood-mayor-voices-concerns-about-consolidation-study http://scotchplains.patch.com/articles/scotch-plains-mayor-and-sp-councilman-comment-on-consolidation

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