"I think we have a clearly defined vision for the future [of Metuchen]," Borough Councilman Timothy Dacey has stated about his run for office with fellow incumbent Councilman Pete Cammarano. "[We must] keep this a vibrant town where people enjoy living and where people would like to move to, maintaining the quality of the community . . . "
Timothy Dacey is seeking his second term on the Metuchen Borough Council and is a former member of the Metuchen Parking Authority. He works as Vice President of administration services at Bergen Community College in Paramus and has held municipal positions as diverse as the Director of Public Works & Engineering for Woodbridge Township and the Deputy Executive Director of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority. Dacey graduated from St. Joseph's High School in Metuchen, received a B.S. at the United States Merchant Marine Academy and was awarded an M.S. from the State University of New York - Maritime College. His wife of 16 years, Lisa, is school psychologist at Campbell. Their son Sean attends Edgar Middle School.
Dacey feels strongly that Main Street needs to be patient during this economic climate and bring the right kind of businesses to town--although he laments the bureaucratic red tape when a new tenant wants to move into business space, he thinks that the allotted amount of time during which a business makes itself known to the community is necessary: "You want to maintain family-friendly businesses in a family-friendly town." The rejuvenation of the downtown district is subject to foot traffic and, since the upstairs of all buildings on the street are zoned for residences, there should be a greater push to get people to live downtown as well as work there. This would increase the amount of people around at night, although the controversy over the limited number of liquor licenses available for Metuchen (at this time it is three) continues; most restaurants close early and late-night dining and drinking are not available on Main Street. He holds out hope that in the future there could be the sharing of liquor license availabilty between different townships (Ex: Perth Amboy has far more than Metuchen and could sell one to town.)
RENAISSANCE DEVELOPMENT PROJECT
Dacey supports fully the Renaissance Project in its present incarnation. Given the new traffic reconfiguration funds, he thinks that the entire downtown will be completely revitalized by this construction. He also supports the investigation into a covered parking garage in the New Street lot, similar to the one recently built in Princeton. "The borough receives over a million dollars in parking revenue each year," he says, and over $800,000 of it goes directly back into town development. "And if we get a good supermarket into the store space there, we can entice other good retail stores into the downtown area." He believes that towns such as Westfield and Princeton have made similar decisions over the years with positive results. Dacey also maintains that the voices of the public were heard over the 15 public hearings that were held on this issue--many of these suggestions have been implemented into the building plans, which are on display at Borough Hall. Dacey encourages all Metuchen residents to view the exciting prospects they illustrate.
"We have a traffic circulation study being done so we can effectively use the $750,000 that the Renaissance redevelopment will give to the borough for traffic improvements along Route 27 and the Lake Avenue area. We have a parking study under way which will take public input and make recommendations for how best the borough can deal with the increased parking needs of the downtown area, plus the train station. We also are doing the engineering, with money from the Wal-Mart settlement, to add northbound and southbound ramps to Route 287 off of Route 27. This will take the truck traffic our of the residential areas of Metuchen and improve traffic in the downtown. The Walmart construction led to a successful lawsuit against Edison Township and that money has enabled traffic engineering studies . . .Traffic engineering is a science and anything other than smart, informed change [could be] a waste of time and money," Dacey has stated throughout the campaign.
A $60,000 DOT "Reconnecting Your Community" grant for redirection of traffic has been awarded to Metuchen and new plans are being developed by a state-associated engineering firm. Public participation is needed, he adds, stating that on December 4th, there will be an open-house workshop to help citizens identify traffic-oriented problems, with an additional workshop to be held in January/February 2009 to design solutions for these problems.
PUBLIC WORKS AND TOWN RESOURCES
"Our public works services have improved and expanded while becoming more efficient through the use of automated garbage trucks. I will work to continue to have the borough offer excellent services to our residents in a cost-effective manner." Dacey is proud of the part he played in improving these important town resources.
Our parks and playing fields have been greatly improved over the last few years and Dacey has been a big part of that, working as the liasion to the Recreation Commission. He said that the number of programs offered is far greater than those offered just a few years ago and that the awarding of state and county grants to improve Myrtle Field and Vidas Field and to install new lights at the tennis courts have made a huge difference in the amount of people who can participate in rec soccer or using the courts throughout most seasons. With new resurfacing, the tennis courts are even better than ever.
Dacey is excited about the plans to redo Charles Field as well as the building of a proposed "sports bubble" at the old Boro Motors site, a proposition which received unanimous approval at the last Borough Council meeting. The borough has won a $500,000 grant from the county for turf at Charles Field. Plans for that field began over the summer. "We're still $700,000 +/- short," Dacey has said. He explained that funding is still an issue but the goal is to make the area a multi-use sports field. "For Myrtle Field we had $1 million in county open spaces funds."
The borough's land development ordinance passed conditional use of the area and was approved at the last council meeting--it allows for the sports bubble project to go forward. Dacey helped to change the definition under "seasonal sports dome structures" so that anything built would be open at least eight months out of the year, with "lights out at 8:30PM." On November 3rd, there will be time for public response to these proposals during the Borough Council meeting.
The building of a sports complex with indoor soccer fields and other sports surfaces on 65,713 square feet is still under development with borough council. Dacey feels that this will be an important addition to the town's recreation menu, offering an opportunity for all athletes to enjoy a longer season of play without worrying about unseasonable weather.
Dacey became the Council Liasion to the Pool Commission in January 2008. At that point, Ed Angus, former municipal pool manager, had tendered a quick resignation--leaving the commission without the required time to interview a new manager. "The former assistant manager was promoted in the meantime and was given a diverse set of circumstances to oversee," Dacey said. The filter issue had been on the table and went through the proper channels in order to satisfy bond regulations. When it came time for the engineer's evaluation, the Pool Commission was told that the filter was in working order and did not need to be replaced. With proper flushing, the filter was expected to stay functioning throughout the summer.
Dacey feels that the process of caring for the filter was hampered by a misunderstanding about pool maintenance--the proper amount of time for flushing the filter during the off-hours was not enough to take care of the issues. Now, the filter has been replaced, to the tune of $125,000. As an incentive to returning members, they will be charged 2008 fees again, while new members will be charged at a slight increase from last year's prices. Also, a free Family Fun day will be held at the pool on the Memorial Day weekend to thank the membership for their support during this situation. MMP improvements for the coming year include painting the building exterior, replacing floors, lighting, all dispensers and resurfacing facilities in the main bathrooms, as well as fixing up the changing station and lighting in the family bathroom and the shower and dispensers in the handicapped bathroom.
OPENNESS OF GOVERNMENT
Dacey has stated, "Since I joined the council, we have made government more open to the public. In my first few months in office, the council passed the toughest "pay to play" ban in the state. We held more meetings and public input sessions on the Stop & Shop site redevelopment than were ever held on a project in the past. We have put our council minutes and agendas on the borough website and Metuchen has recently become the first town in the state to webcast our council meetings live on the borough website." These changes have led to greater public participation on major subjects, like the Renaissance Project and the upcoming sports bubble project.
Tim Dacey values the nonpartisan community atmosphere in Metuchen--"I have recommended Democrats, Republicans and independents to the mayor to serve on borough commissions, and this year we offered the public many more opportunities to comment on the budget than in the past. I believe we have a responsible borough government that can only work even better if we get more citizens involved in it." He believes that together the citizens of Metuchen can fare well during these difficult economic times and that the projected improvements around town will bring a bright future to the town he loves.