Security at All Costs
Crime is up here. You can’t open the local newspaper or read the local news online and not know that. It runs from a Millburn mailman being attacked in broad daylight across from an elementary school for his security keys to a recent blue van loaded with young criminals being dropped off to steal our cars.
Thieves are now so brazen that they are actually breaking in and ransacking homes to look for electronic key fobs, even if we are cautious enough to never leave them in unlocked cars. You can’t even leave a car unattended for mere seconds to unload groceries or pull a trash bin inside.
The Mall – you know what has been happening there. You read the same news we do. $120,000 in purses were recently taken at 10:30am from Dior’s. Unfortunately, it did not just make the very local news, but it made the NY/NJ/CT TV and radio stations.
At a recent Township Committee meeting, the Township Administrator stated that in the previous week there had been 14 arrests, with 33 arrests in the entire month of May this year. We might add that those stats are just the crimes we know about. What is below the iceberg, “actors” not caught, or crimes not reported?
Public safety must be the number one priority of Millburn – it is something that affects each and every one of us, our families, and our kids.
Safety Above All Else
June 13, 2023 - 3:35pm
It goes without saying that public safety should be Millburn’s number one priority and one of the largest line items of our municipal budget. We are thankful to have best-in-class Police and Fire Departments, as well as the vital Millburn-Short Hills Volunteer First Aid Squad.
However, we must always be vigilant and focus on providing the tools and resources that will increase public safety, mitigate crime as discussed in the above section titled Security at All Costs, reduce pedestrian accidents, and enhance public communications. Weekly recorded messages recounting an abridged collection of Township activities is not enough. All residents must be kept well-informed, especially when it comes to public safety.
For example, how many residents are still unaware that the Township Committee has approved the contaminated DPW site or town “dump” for 75 low- and moderate-income rental apartments, sandwiched between high voltage power lines and railroad tracks? We are all responsible for the long-term health of new residents – why are pivotal decisions like this being hidden from our community?
Traffic congestion is getting worse by the day – even slow-moving, impatient, backed-up drivers can be a hazard to themselves and pedestrians. Has our Township Committee initiated effective programs that deter unsafe behavior?
Millburn has issued warnings for years and years about impending flood waters. Have officials done everything humanly possible to rectify the ongoing conditions for both homeowners and commercial property owners using all conceivable government resources?
Even something that seems small and insignificant like ensuring all kids wear bike helmets while cycling is a safety issue. We must be a cohesive team. Yes, every school bus driver and crossing guard is part of public safety. When you want to be a leader in Millburn, safety must always be top of mind.
It's my job:
Believe it or not, these large new buildings are under construction in Millburn. More to come?
Chatham Rd & Woodland Rd
Reservoir across from the Upton
The Metropolitan, Springfield
The Upton, JFK Parkway
Millburn Ave near Town Hall
Corner Main & Essex
Former Annie Sez, Millburn Ave
Town Dump, Essex & Main
Former Wells Fargo, Millburn Ave
This (above) is what the Township Committee agreed could be built in our Town. Millburn's newly approved buildings total 735 rental apartments and, when completed, 194 are to be moderate to low-income units. (The Metropolitan is technically located in Springfield, but the driveway empties out onto Millburn Avenue and our community.)
The State's Fair Share Housing process is not complete. They will ask for much more in 2025. But even before 2025, based on the Township Committee's concessions, builders who buy property in six areas of Town now have the right to build high-density housing - up to 40 units per acre and 48 feet in height. Hypothetically, we could have 4,000 more homes to attain 800 more moderate to low-income housing units. For reference, Millburn currently has 6,700 existing homes.
Yes, some of the new construction is part of satisfying Millburn’s affordable housing obligation. Yet, our settlement agreement was among the worst in the state – our Township Committee, with the incumbent mayor at the helm of the negotiating team – capitulated to all the demands made by Fair Share Housing. Other towns in the area are not giving in to the housing numbers requested. Why have current Township Committee members agreed to housing numbers well in excess of (approximately double) what is legally required by the State?
Safeguard Best Schools
We have exceptional schools. That’s a key reason why many residents choose Millburn to raise their families. Our children are the future. We all want our top-rated schools to continue their decades-long track record in being the best at educating our kids – but they are under threat.
The overdevelopment approved by the Township Committee under Mayor Miggins’ leadership will put tremendous pressure on every school. Capacity is threatened, staffing will be stretched thin, and high-quality performance and rankings will deteriorate. The Township Committee and the incumbent mayor made no effort to study the impact on our schools when they approved very large development projects for our town. They barged ahead and approved one of the state’s worst settlement agreements with no regard for impact on our schools. While it is true that Fair Share Housing does not consider school capacity, it does not mean that our Township Committee cannot commission studies to understand the impact on our schools, as many other neighboring towns have done.
We face saturated classrooms because there is finite capacity in our school buildings. It takes years to plan and build additions to our existing schools and even longer to build new schools. Teachers will face much larger class sizes along with the added complexities of managing an exploding school population. Do you remember the trailers that stayed outside of Glenwood School for over a decade? And the huge trailer in front of the Middle School that took years to remove and replace with proper classroom space? How does that help your kid’s education? How might that impact your home values down the road, if our school system is no longer the best in the state?
Resist Outside Influence
One-party rule inevitably leads to unchecked power. Our local elected officials are unwilling to push back on the dictates from county and state politicians who don’t even live here.
Our student population grows with each new housing project. Our schools will need funding to deal with that growth, yet our Township Committee, with Mayor Miggins at the helm, has agreed to a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) program that contributes zero tax dollars to our schools. Why are taxpayers footing the entire bill for the 75-unit project at the DPW site, which exceeds Millburn’s state-mandated obligation? Is this project for the benefit of Millburn residents or simply a feather in the cap for state politicians who were already trumpeting this achievement before the ink was dry?
As former Millburn Mayor Dianne Eglow recently wrote in an open letter about why she left her party, “I first noted a problem with party politics when I was expected to hire firms that were promoted by the county Democratic party, to perform township work. I was ordered to choose between obedience to the party and maintaining my integrity and commitment to serving the residents of Millburn-Short Hills.”
The current Township Committee, led by Mayor Maggee Miggins, succumbs to pressure from county, state, and federal politicians at our expense. And they’ll do it again, perhaps even more aggressively, if they are voted back in.
Respect Residents' Input
The Township Committee has pushed aside residents in favor of developers and political influencers. Party interests come first, residents last. The current Township Committee and mayor have ignored, cajoled, and even insulted taxpayers and residents who approached them with ideas, questions, and objections.
Our elected officials and mayor have reduced public input to the bare minimum. Residents’ questions are simply never answered, regardless of how many times they are raised. Our paid professionals, including the Business Administrator, do not follow up on resident’s concerns, and instead, they often dismiss said concerns and cite misleading statistics to further their own agenda. Do you really think it’s fair to compare the number of car thefts in 2023 with those in the 1990s, prior to the widespread adoption of engine immobilizers? Believe it or not, the Business Administrator tried to do exactly that in a June 2023 Township Committee meeting. The mayor also cited these same irrelevant statistics at a neighborhood meeting in July.
The Township Committee has spent countless dollars on consultants to conduct surveys to understand residents’ needs. Yet when well-informed residents point out how those surveys are opaque, poorly designed, and scientifically invalid, the concerns go unheeded, likely because those surveys are designed to generate a pre-determined outcome. 2,000 residents signed a petition opposing the 75-unit income-segregated housing project at the DPW site (a.k.a. the contaminated town “dump”). Yet the mayor refused to even consider those residents, and instead pushed forth with her ill-conceived plan which she negotiated and approved without any prior public input.
Earlier this year, the Zoom option for participating in Township Committee meetings was inexplicably removed. Only after repeated public outcry was this restored. How could anyone possibly justify removing opportunities for residents to provide input to their elected officials?