Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Don't say you weren't warned.

They had an invited speaker at last week's Township Committee meeting - Peter Beronio, the Economic Development Director for Englewood NJ. He spoke about how Englewood has turned their town around, adding new businesses and reversing many years of decline and decay. Apparently they've done quite a good job at it.

What was also apparent from the kind of questions asked of Mr. Beronio was the focus of our TC members. Jerry Ryan mostly asked questions about money - how much new tax revenue did they get, what change in commercial/residential rateables, how much money did it take to implement the changes. Fred Profeta, on the other hand, kept asking questions intended to bolster his case for a full-time economic planner. Unfortunately for Fred, Mr. Beronio described how Englewood's planning was done by a troika of municipal employees who'd already been on the municipal payroll for years, learned their planning skills as they went, on the job, and combined that role with their other jobs. He made a point of the fact that planners the town could hire were likely either to be too inexperienced, or too tied to specific developers, and that it was far better to use the talent of people already in place.

Another notable point from Mr. Beronio's presentation: Englewood has indeed increased commercial ratables over the past few years - by about 3% - in Maplewood terms, that would amount to about $0.10/$100 assessed ... and Englewood had to condemn a hundred or more homes to do it. And at that, Englewood has a much bigger selection of large commercial sites, One of them as much as 60 acres. Compare that to Maplewood's largest tract, of about 2 acres.

What did I glean from all this? Fred, like all modern Republicans, is interested in buying votes with promises he can't keep and money he can't really afford to spend. Jerry is watching out for the bucks we spend.

Don't say you weren't warned.

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