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South Amboy Council Candidates Answer Amboy Guardian Questions

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Zusette Dato

Running For Reelection

1. Town Improvements – Yes, we continue to address the maintenance and improvements to assets and infrastructure, protecting the environment, becoming a Sustainable Jersey Community, maintaining our low crime rate, preserving our quality of life and maintaining a financially stable City through responsible ratable growth.  In addition to all of the above, we routinely respond to concerns and requests brought to us by our constituents.

2. Businesses – The South Amboy Business District easily lends itself to development that would welcome businesses that patrons would visit rather than reach online.  Many retailers today are transitioning to an “online” presence rather than a bricks and mortar establishment.  For these reason restaurants, personal services and entertainment venues are preferable as well as specialized shops and services and those businesses related to the Arts.

3. Parking Meters – It has been the opinion of this administration that in South Amboy parking meters would actually hurt business.  We have taken steps to designate areas of parking that have limited occupancy time.  We have also designated fifteen (15) minute parking areas in certain areas located in the business district to provide for a fast turnaround.  We have created “pocket parking” along Broadway.  With technology what it is and the parking system available, we see a need to change the way we think about parking in our City.  Also, being a New Jersey Designated Transit Village and an extremely walkable community, we are looking to include more bike lanes and pedestrian pathways, especially in the areas where development such as the Intermodal Transportation Center, commercial and residential development is taking place.

4. Term Limits – I don’t think term limits are necessary.  It takes a few years to really understand the needs of the community and work well within the system.  If residents are unhappy with their representative, they have the right to vote for someone else or encourage some other candidate to run in the primary.  That is our democratic process.

5. Housing – We believe in quality, not quantity.  We need to continue to utilize smart growth as we view any project.  We need to attract age oriented individuals to minimize the impact on our school system.  The waterfront housing worked well as we secured high ratable with little impact to the school system.  South Amboy was never an industrial community.  With the creation of the train station and the upcoming ferry service, we are connecting workers to their jobs.

6. Employment – We have seen situations where a business opening will be solely run by its proprietor and we have seen businesses that have hired a large number of people from the community at large.  We have also had expansions in existing businesses that have allowed the hiring of additional workers.  There is no reason to believe this trend will change, however, employing the “smart growth” process of Redevelopment projects also offers job opportunities for the building trades during the construction of their projects.  Needless to say, we also encourage business to consider tapping into our local talent pool to hire local residents.

7. City Assets – Comments that we hear from residents primarily indicate that they feel the city is clean with safe streets but we see the need to improve the status quo.  We both walk the City frequently and as we observe areas in need of attention, we point these areas out to code enforcement or others to get speedy attention to the need.  Over the years we have seen improvements to our infrastructure.  These included bridges, roads and sewers.  We can now focus on the Broadway business district.  The creation of the Arts District will undoubtedly attract new business, which is already occurring with the opening of “Raise the Bar” and “Soul Sisters Cakery Café” ribbon cutting tomorrow, Saturday, October 29.  When you also consider our YMCA, the train station and County Waterfront Park, we feel we are blessed but will continue to be open to and seek further improvements to quality of life for residents and visitors.

Barbara Pasternack

1) Town Improvements – I haven’t been to the arts district yet so I really can’t predict if it will be a success. I do know when the presentation was made to the council there was concern from the residents about parking and I don’t see that being resolved. The open hours are limited and they close early. There is a lot of room for other businesses on Broadway but there is no success. I heard Dunkin Dounuts and Subway are closing. That would be a disaster.

2) Businesses – I would like to see businesses that well established and could withstand the growth pains of South Amboy. We missed the boat on Amazon. They are building a warehouse in Avenel and hiring 3500 people. I have done some research and Pet Supplies Plus is expanding along with Great Harvest Bread Co. They are looking to add 60 stores in the northeast. All products are made by hand adding more employees to the businesses. Pet owner spend over 350 million dollars just around the holidays.

3) Parking Meters – First you have to address parking. There Re some spaces that are currently unused and/or in need of demolition. Make them municipal parking lots and charge an affordable amount to residents and let the city offset taxes. Every time this topic is approached there is never a solution.

4) Term Limits – I do believe term limits are necessary. If the same people are always there the same ideas or lack thereof continue. I especially think they are necessary because as evidenced in the 2010 mayoral race the elections are not always honest. Is it rigged? Perhaps.

5) Housing – Absolutely no more housing is needed here. There is too much already and no matter how they are classified they aren’t selling. There are too many foreclosures. We need a new firehouse and other businesses not housing. What they should do with existing empty properties is convert them to “over 55” housing. They should come up with a new idea for the Manhattan Beach Project. In December 2014 they had to sign the contract by the end of the year. Nearly 2 years later …nothing.

6) Employment – I go to the council meetings and I am unaware of any new businesses coming to town. A bar reopened but don’t see anything adding to the workforce.

7) Town’s Assets – When I came here from Brooklyn 11 years ago I saw promise and hope. The waterfront is beautiful but when you get to Broadway it is disappointing. The new train station has its challenges because if you park in the lot and want to go to Broadway you have to go up one staircase and then down another and go back again. If you drive you have to find parking. Another challenge. When I have to take the train during the week I have to take a taxi because there is no parking. Parking seems to be a common denominator of all of the problems.

I don’t think it is hopeless or impossible to turn this town around. We do need some new people and new thinking.

I think a South Amboy Business Association would be a good idea. Business owners could share ideas and help each other address problems. They could approach the administration as a cohesive group wand add more strength to problem resolution. They might also be able to share the cost of advertising with co-op ads. More marketing is needed.

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