Fanwood Mayor Voices Concerns About Consolidation Study

Mayor Colleen Mahr feels Fanwood residents lack support of study


The Mayor of Fanwood, Colleen Mahr, recently expressed that her concerns about a proposed consolidation study for Fanwood and Scotch Plains lie with who the Fanwood Courage to Re-connect members are and the fact that, to her knowledge, there are no Fanwood residents in support of the study.

Courage to Re-connect is the organization leading the movement for consolidation, route: {:controller=>"articles", :action=>"show", :id=>"spf-residents-take-historic-step-towards-consolidation-of-neighboring-towns"} --> of Fanwood and Scotch Plains. Three meetings have been held to gauge community support.

At the , tensions ran high about Courage to Re-Connect and at the , residents were still voicing their concerns.

In mid-August the Finance Board met to and last week the Board of the two towns.

"My objections throughout the process have been that it has been promoted through Courage to Re-connect," Mahr said. "If Fanwood wanted it, I'd have no objections"

Mahr noted that she has never seen the Fanwood residents on the Courage to Re-Connect board.

She said she has only heard that the people of Fanwood were distrustful because the faces of the organization were from Scotch Plains and Long Valley.

Mahr's concerns lie in the fact that there has been a lack of support from Fanwood residents since the beginning.

"I don't fear any saving of tax dollars. Our record shows I support that." 

The town has been dedicated to cutting costs where it can, she noted. For example the town has outsourced its dispatching to the County of Union and looked to shared services, such as the Board of Education, Health and Animal Control.

Mahr mentioned she had not received one call in support of the study. At meetings, no-one has come forward wanting to pursue the study.

All three public meetings held regarding the consolidation study were neither chaired or ran by any Fanwood residents, she stated.

In addition, Mahr says that the fact that there is name or face representing the consolidation study has created skepticism about the process as well as negative atmosphere.

Mahr noted that she understands that this is just a study and not an actual consolidation.

Last November, after their fourth try, the Borough and Township of Princeton approved a consolidation of Princeton. Mahr looked at this consolidation as an example for Scotch Plains and Fanwood.

Mahr said, Courage to Re-Connect would need to raise at least $50,000 for a well-executed study. She pointed out that the shared service study a few years back cost about $40,000 with a grant from the state of New Jersey. She also stated that the baseline contract for the facilitator in Princeton was $80,000. Patch is checking into the costs for the Princeton consolidation.

Mahr also believes that a significant portion of the work will be done by local municipal staff.

In Fanwood, she said, staff already wear two to three different hats. She said that having this study be a part of the community for the next few years will take those employees away from their day-to-day tasks.

The main takeaway, said Mahr, is that she is not afraid of discussions or having a study. However, she feels that the current effort is not sufficiently grassroots.

According to Mahr, based on the emails she has received and that the finance board has received, as well as the comments at public meetings, there is no ground swell support to study consolidation.

At Tuesday's Council Meeting the consolidation study will be discussed further. Mahr encourages anyone with concerns or in support of the study to discuss this at the meeting which begins at 7:30 p.m.

Scotch Plains Mayor, Mary DePaola and Councilman Ed Sadariki

haljalikea kick September 18, 2012 at 07:38 PM
Was there more than one petitioner at that meeting? I Only recall a guy named Dan something who identified himself as one of the Fanwood petitioners. I recall he said the Patch the non scientific patch poll proved residents wanted a study? Didn't hear him say where in Fanwood he spoke to residents about the petition or when that happened?
bgporter September 18, 2012 at 08:47 PM
One of the 5 Fanwood CRTC board members attended and stood to speak. Their application (downloaded from http://spfreconnect.wordpress.com/application/ ) lists a Dan Winigrad from Fanwood.
Michael Lewis September 18, 2012 at 09:04 PM
I will stipulate to both points without reservation, and to the fact that - barring the unforeseen - we WLL have both a study and a referendum. MY point was pretty simply what I said - my team got thumped last year and I suspect that Mayor Mahr's feel a large portion of her electorate was the overriding reason why.
Builda Wall September 19, 2012 at 06:29 AM
This video is from February but I just discovered it and am posting it in case others here haven't seen it either: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5h6rpGXo1ME
Susan Iaccarino September 21, 2012 at 07:07 PM
I couldn't agree more. I, admittedly, have not attended these meetings but can't imagine that a consolidation study proposal rests in the hands of a few. I am for consolidation if it means lower taxes, however, I'm afraid Fanwood is caught in a small town time warp, e.g., resisitance of change, period!


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