Tuesday’s Scotch Plains Town Council Conference meeting was marked by passionate discussion regarding several crucial community issues including a municipal study to examine the implications of merging Scotch Plains and Fanwood.
While council members and the mayor seemed to agree that consolidating the towns “would save both communities millions of dollars,” tempers flared over how to keep Fanwood’s government involved in a resolution to move forward with a municipal study.
According to the organization’s website, Courage to Reconnect, a nonprofit organization in favor of consolidating Scotch Plains and Fanwood consists of both Scotch Plains and Fanwood residents who banded together to petition local governments to study the benefits of merging the two towns. The organization has gone on to help several other New Jersey communities approach possible consolidation. While both towns have expressed interest in the possibility of a , actually consolidating Scotch Plains and Fanwood remains a point of great contention.
Mayor Malool noted that in order for a study to move forward, both communities must agree to be involved. She proposed that the Council pass a resolution stating that they are in favor of making an application to the local finance board to create a joint municipal study.
Councilman Kevin Glover, raised an objection stating that he didn’t want the Council to “act like the folks in Washington” and pass a resolution just for the sake of it. Glover suggested that the two towns hold an open forum where residents could express their opinions. Glover also stated that Malool should contact Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr personally before taking any action. Councilman Mickey Marcus agreed stating that passing a resolution would be “running before they could even walk.”
Councilman Bo Vastine spoke up for Courage to Reconnect and the citizens of both communities who support studying a potential merger.
“We owe these people careful consideration. Let everybody who is elected to serve these two towns state their position,” Vastine stated.
After a prolonged period of debate, a frustrated Mayor Malool delivered a definitive response.
“I have been in favor of studying this for years and Fanwood refused to participate. We need to put our cards on the table. The people have spoken, and they want to know whether or not merging the towns will save them money,” Malool said.
A resolution proposed by Mayor Mahr will appear on the Council meeting agenda this January. The resolution will state that the Scotch Plains Town Council wants to approach the local finance board to commission a joint municipal study to study what a merger would look like if Scotch Plains and Fanwood were to consolidate. As it will be presented during a regular meeting, the public will be allowed to comment.
For more local news, follow us on Twitter