Where the Fanwood Candidates Stand: Downtown Fanwood, Seniors and Young People

A look at the issues discussed at the Oct. 24, Fanwood Candidates Forum.

At the Oct. 24 Candidates Forum in Fanwood, Democratic Candidates Jack Molenaar and Dan Levine responded to questions along with current Republican council members, Mike Szuch and Robert Manduca, who are running for re-election.

The candidates were asked important questions about consolidation and shared services by moderator, Fred Rossi.

In addition to those issues, Rossi started off the forum by asking the candidates if they think the many renovations Downtown Fanwood has received is a success and what problems they think exist.

Molenaar joined the Fanwood Council in 1994, as a city planner he immediately became a part of the downtown redevelopment committee. 

Molenaar said he considers downtown Fanwood his baby.

"The success we've had down there has been incredible," he said. "The fact we can build buildings in a recession is incredible."

He added that more development needs to be done, such as pedestrian safety and crosswalks. 

Councilman Manduca said the redevelopment has taken 8 years to build 2 buildings.

"You could build 7 Empire State Buildings in that time," he said. 

Adding that he would not characterize the redevelopment as a rosy success. He also pointed out the many vacancies as problems. 

"Unless we learn from those mistakes we're not going to capitalize on the future," Manduca said.

Councilman Szuch said Fanwood should put more attention on immediate downtown on Martine Ave., between South Ave. and LaGrande Ave. With extra funds the town has for grants he would like to start helping existing businesses improve their images.

Levine agreed that the leasing pace was slower than most would like. 

He added that going forward there are a few issues that the town is already aware of, such as the pedestrian crosswalks and improvements to current businesses. 

Rossi posed another questions for candidates asking, with senior citizens living on fixed income and costs rising what can they do to keep those seniors in Fanwood?

Manduca belived that the town should do something to help senior citizens. He said it's in Fanwood's interest to lower the tax burden for seniors because once senior citizens move out young families with multiple children are moving in. 

When looking at the tax bill, by giving the seniors a break, the numbers of children we have to educate will be more affordable with seniors in Fanwood.

Again, Molenaar said shared services is where the savings are at for all Fanwoodians and any senior citizen out there.

After discussing the seniors of Fanwood, Rossi asked the candidates what kind of things can be done for the young people in town?

Levine pointed out how the recreation department is good for providing services for young people, saying his family particularly took advantage of it. 

Szuch added that the recreation department recieved a grant from the county which made it possible to update the parks. He also said the unfortunate part was the loss of sports at the middle school was a drawback but other programs throughout the borough have made up for it.

Szuch said, "If they are willing(the children), they will find something."

Check back with scotchplains.patch.com for the closing statements provided by each candidate. 

bgporter October 26, 2012 at 02:46 PM
"Councilman Manduca said the redevelopment has taken 8 years to build 2 buildings. "You could build 7 Empire State Buildings in that time," he said. " -- this is a curious argument (perhaps there's context missing). When I read that, the clearest interpretation is that it's a call to roust the incumbents who are clearly responsible for the slow pace and put someone in there who can move things ahead more quickly.
Robert Manduca November 06, 2012 at 03:40 AM
Ah Mr. Porter you are correct, there is context missing. Mr. Molenaar referred to the downtown redevelopment as "his baby." My point was an eight year development effort who's primary tenant is still "vacancy", can hardly be called the "incredible success" Mr. Molenaar claims it to be. I sited several cases where Mr. Molenaar's over zealousness on the Planning Board had actually cost Fanwood tax paying businesses. Thank you for the care with which you prefaced your comments.


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