to encourage economic development for Lower Township involves looking at a variety of threads to this one issue, but they
all have a common goal.
The Independents For Lower are
committed to an economic environment that not only creates jobs and a strong ratable base, but we also believe that as we
showcase our town to other people, we will help develop a stable community that is proud of its heritage and accomplishments,
and is rightfully seen as one of the best towns in South Jersey.
Economic vitality for our town requires a multi-pronged
begin, capitalize on what is the foremost industry in Cape May County, namely tourism. Our town needs to develop its own stream
of revenue from this industry, and make no mistake, we will rise or fall as a township, or as a county, by capturing what
is called (OPM)-other people’s money. The last council completely ignored a golden opportunity to develop tourism as
a revenue stream when they missed a potential “home-run” and allowed the state to bypass Lower Township with the
Bayshore Heritage Byway (BHB). Mayor Beck saw this opportunity immediately, and with the help of a citizen posse, led by Norris
Clark, rerouted the Byway and brought it to where it belonged, through the middle of our town. Tourism is a $5.2 billion
a year industry in Cape May County and our goal is to develop a bigger “pie” with much of it dedicated to Lower
Township. But what does our town have to offer?
The BHB is a big deal. It can bring people here, and not only provide an economic benefit
to our town, but also help to reveal to others what we already know, that we are a town rich in history, culture, and natural
settings. From the Fishing Creek School, the Naval Air Station Wildwood and Vietnam Museum, Cox Hall Creek Wildlife Management
Area, to Cold Spring Village, and beyond to many other sites, our town truly is a hidden gem longing to be unveiled to people
waiting to explore us. And, yes, they will want to patronize our businesses, and even, for a small percentage, will find our
town the perfect place for them and retire here. Thus you create a stable community where people love living here and are
proud to show us to their friends and neighbors. And perhaps most of all, we need to capitalize on the special gift that the
Good Lord has bestowed upon us, our magnificent sunsets, which are just part of a truly unique “Bayshore” environment.
People who see them can never forget them. We will encourage our visitors to come back often to view these sunsets,
and while here, of course, dine at any of our many fine restaurants. Tourism is a definite part of Lower Township’s
future and must be encouraged.
There are other roads to the kind of development we need. Thanks to Mayor Beck’s initiative, an economic loan
program has already started to pay dividends. The program, which was outdated and not used in eight years, has been reconfigured
and is now creating jobs in our town as four loans helping businesses grow in Lower Township have been given in the past few
months. Each is committed to hiring more local people.
The airport is another area that deserves attention. You could fuel your home for the winter
with the economic development reports that have made consultants money, while little or nothing has been done to benefit our
residents. Perhaps it’s time to hire a firm that receives not a nickel in advance, but is paid a bounty for jobs created
when a business locates to the airport. Lower Township, which just recently adjusted not only its loan program but also our
local ordinance to make the airport business friendly, stands ready in any way to cooperate with the DRBA and Cape May County
to move this or any other initiative forward.
And through it all, we recognize the importance of our fishing industry to our local economy,
and as we did when Mayor Beck supported the Marine Development Zone, we also recognize that we must stand ready to protect
and advocate whenever this industry is threatened.
The economic health of Lower Township is a mosaic that when complete, will point the way to
employment for our residents as well as a stable and viable community. Some of the pieces of that mosaic are listed above,
and present a sound foundation on which to build the kind of community Lower Township can and will become. Mayor Beck has
pointed the way and now needs the rest of the Independents For Lower Team to make this dream a reality. VOTE
Public Safety in Lower Township
The Independents for Lower Team recognizes how important it is for our residents to be safe and to feel safe. We
understand. We get it. We live here with our families, too.
As with many issues, there are many threads within the issue. We begin with statistics compiled by the FBI which
shows the Crime Index Total for our town at 535 in 2007 and dropped to 494 in 2010. We also relate that Chief Brian Marker
has repeatedly stated he has sufficient personnel to complete his mission and protect our citizens. And we would be remiss
if we didn’t state that our team, which includes Mayor Beck and his 25 years police experience, appreciate the professionalism
and dedication of the Chief and all our police officers.
Our first issue involves the current Public Safety Building. It is time to move the police back to Lower Township’s
townhall. The committee formed to examine this proposed move voted unanimously to support the move. (Note: Both Erik Simonsen
and Kevin Lare were members of the Public Safety Building Committee, were both absent multiple times, were both absent for
the final vote, yet now criticize the committee decision.)
The committee examined the cost of renovating the current facility and found it to be as costly, and possibly
even more, than constructing a brand new addition at the township complex. The roof alone at the airport is well over an acre,
and to replace it properly, which will be necessary shortly, will cost nearly 2 million dollars. Every piece of police literature
supports the concept that the police building should be located in the community, and not at the back of an airport. It was
not in the best interest of Lower Township to move the headquarters there 20 years ago, and it is our intent to correct that
situation, and return the police to a new and energy efficient addition adjacent to our townhall. Residents just flat-out
felt safer seeing the sign denoting the police headquarters on Bayshore Rd.
Even though we believe the current force supplemented by Class II officers has adequate personnel, we also recognize
that circumstances determine staffing levels and, therefore, are prepared to adjust that level as needs dictate.
However, there is an area that we believe needs to be addressed.
Substance abuse, particularly among our youth, is unacceptable and it’s time to try things differently. Even one life
lost to this problem is too much, but the solution does not lie within the police department alone, but needs the cooperation
of all areas of society, including police, schools, coaches, counselors, pastors, and most importantly, the family. We hope
to bring them together early in our term and work toward a common goal of changing a culture of abuse which has been adopted
by some of our youth. At the same time while we feel that those who are addicted should receive all the help they will accept,
those who deal in these activities need to be arrested and removed from our streets. Questions that we would raise involve
whether we need to dedicate two officers whose full time responsibility is to root out and impact the illegal drug trade within
our town. So much crime flows from this activity that it makes sense that as we control this area, other illegal activities,
such as car and house burglaries will diminish. We believe council should also consider a rewards program that would pay for
information leading to the arrest and conviction for sales of illegal substances within Lower Township.
Substance abuse, in any form, is a community problem, and needs a community approach.
Our town is no different from any other town when it comes to this scourge. Any other community that thinks differently is
only fooling itself.
The difference is we intend
to do something about it
Open Government in Lower Township
We believe that government must be open and accessible to the
people it represents. That feeling is based upon the fundamental truth that it really is “government of the people”.
The Independents For Lower recognize this and are committed to creating the most open government in New Jersey.
Why is this important? In the world as it now exists, many
people cannot spare the time to attend every council meeting. We have a township with a large senior population, and many
households with both parents working. They get their information from the news media and the televised council meetings. It’s
their link to their government.
This same commitment
to open government was made four years ago by the then Independent team of Mayor Beck and Deputy Mayor Lare. Mayor Beck kept
his promise, But Deputy Lare did not. It’s not your words but your actions that determine your level of commitment to
open government. Two issues come immediately to mind:
1. Deputy Lare’s violation of the Open Public Meetings
Act as determined by County Prosecutor Robert Taylor in a letter dated June 9, 2011. By conducting government outside the
public venue through backroom emails, the residents were denied the opportunity to participate in their government.
Perhaps even more disturbing was the fiasco that took place earlier this year when a scheduled council
meeting was cancelled because two elected republican officials went on “vacation” while the Republican Organization
selected Walt Craig as the new councilman. Despite a representative from the township informing the Republicans that the council
meeting was in recess and waiting for Craig to be sworn-in so the 50 people waiting at the council meeting could have the
scheduled meeting, Craig went home. For the first time in Lower Township history, a council meeting was cancelled due to a
lack of a quorum!
Take a moment and contrast this
with the following:
1. Mayor Beck demonstrated his commitment to open government when council in 2006
cited cost as their excuse to reject televised meetings. Mayor Beck spent well over a thousand dollars of his own money to
purchase the necessary equipment, and his wife recorded the meetings so the public could watch their government in action!
In twelve years on council, Mayor Beck has never missed a township meeting of any sort, whether regular or special
meetings. Contrast his perfect attendance with the fact that shortly after the cancelled-meeting disaster in January, council
passed an ordinance regulating attendance at council meetings! Sounds more like high school!
On one hand you have the Independents, a group that understands that the people are
the true owners of government, and we only help steer the ship, we don’t own it. We get it because we believe it.
On the other hand is a group that skirts the line, and needs
to have it on paper so they “play” by the rules. We are not them.
Vote column 3 Independents For Lower November 6