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FAIR HAVEN: COLE Q&A

fair-haven-tracy-cole-102021-500x332-3255776On the ballot November 2: Fair Haven council candidate Tracy Cole. (Photo provided by candidate. Click to enlarge.)

CORRECTION: ALL borough voters in the November 2 election are to cast in-person ballots at the Church of the Nativity parish center at 180 Ridge Road. An outdated list of polling places was incorrectly included in the original version of this post. Apologies to those who were inconvenienced.

election-2021-candidates-9167964Fair Haven voters will have four candidates to choose from when they elect two council members November 2.

Here’s what candidate Tracy Cole had to say in response to a questionnaire sent to all four by redbankgreen.

Tracy Cole

Age: 57

Address: 123 Grange Ave. Fair Haven

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Wayne, Pennsylvania and graduated from Radnor High School in Radnor, Pennsylvania.

Did you graduate from college? If so, which school, with what degree?

I graduated from Penn State University with a BS in Community Planning. After that I completed my graduate work at NC State School of Design where I received my Master of Landscape Architecture.

Have your served in the military? If so, which branch and when?

No – I deeply value the commitment of my fellow citizens who serve.

 What do you do for a living?

Downtown revitalization work – Planning and Design

How long have you been a resident of Fair Haven?

Eight years

Please tell us about your community involvement efforts, if any.

Due to a sense of concern for my community I have attended every council meeting in the past three years. I served as a member of Fair Haven’s Active Transportation Planning Committee. This is the volunteer group that worked with Fair Haven’s borough staff and outside professionals to develop our Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan. This work included significant public outreach and engagement around bicycle and pedestrian environments throughout Fair Haven – which is now part of the circulation element of our Master Plan. I am a member of the Fair Haven Garden Club, a volunteer and active supporter of the Fair Haven PTA, Lunchbreak, Lifeguard, Monmouth Conservation Foundation, and The American Littoral Society to name a few.

Party affiliation: Republican

How important is party affiliation to you? What does it mean to you to be a member of your party? At the local level party affiliation is not that important. What is most important is what each person stands for. As an elected official my primary job would be to protect our quality of life while controlling taxes.

Do you have a role model in public life? Who and why? Every essential worker who has gotten out of bed to go to work everyday during this pandemic – nurses, doctors, teachers, school nurses, police, fireman, first aide workers, janitorial workers, grocery store clerks, and more. Their daily acts of bravery and goodness exemplify the kind of service and citizenship that make them my heroes and amazing role models.

Why are you running for Fair Haven council?

I’m running for Council to serve my community. I believe there is a lot of important work to do and at this moment in Fair Haven’s history I believe I have experience that can be helpful.

What are the most pressing issues facing the town, and how do you plan to address them? Guard against over development, control taxes, continue to improve the safety of our pedestrian and bicycle environment, ensure our investments (whether they be maintenance or new construction) are functional and beautiful, prioritize maintenance and taking care of what we already have over expensive new construction projects and other large property acquisitions.

What if any specific initiatives can voters expect from you if you are elected?

If elected, as one of six legislators I hope to join my fellow council people in an effort to re-establish public trust by working together to create a shared vision, undertake projects using the community development process (focus on outreach), clarify strategic planning goals, eliminate barriers to civic engagement, better manage development (residential and commercial), and make caring for our environment a priority.

The borough is now pursuing simultaneous plans constituting the largest capital projects in borough history: a new police headquarters and a public works yard. Do you support the plans? What if any concerns do you have about them?

The decision to advance these two projects has already been made. I will focus on how these projects move forward. It will be my goal to make sure that these two investments contribute to the neighborhoods they are located within, and the borough as a whole. They need to function properly for their intended use and offer additional utility to residents where possible. Both new buildings need to honor and elevate the neighborhood in which they are located. If a borough-owned property is in your neighborhood it should be one of the best cared for and most attractive properties in that neighborhood.

Do you agree with residents of the Hance Road/Cooney Terrace neighborhood who argue that sidewalks and curbs should not be installed, even if it means sacrificing a $350,000 NJDOT grant for roadwork? Please explain your answer.

On Monday October 18th, at a special meeting of Council called for by our new Mayor Josh Halpern, the Council voted to go out to bid on a revised scope of work that the community agreed with. As an elected official I will do my part to see that the work is implemented consistent with the revised scope. It is notable that there are other sidewalk projects that are far more important. There are no safety concerns on Hance Road in the Loop neighborhood to warrant spending that kind of money on sidewalks. However, there are real safety concerns in other neighborhoods that have repeatedly pleaded with the borough for sidewalks. I believe certain sidewalk improvements are necessary and should be prioritized accordingly. For example, there is a small segment of sidewalk missing in our sidewalk network along Harding Road. Pedestrians from Oak Lawn, in particular children who need to walk to school, now walk along the shoulder of Harding Road (40mph), or actually cross Harding Rd. to get to the south side where there is a sidewalk. Crossing is a very dangerous option because there is no crosswalk anywhere along this section of Harding Rd.

I believe grant applications should be driven by the needs of the community – not the other way around.

The borough has applied for Green Acres funding to help finance the possible acquisition of 21 Fair Haven Road, next to the municipal dock, for use as riverfront open space and recreation. Do you support this initiative? Why or why not?  

There are already plans to make improvements to three waterfront locations. These include the River Rats area, a small terminus at the end of Hance Rd. and another terminus hillside at the end of Grange. Just last year Fair Haven completed a new waterfront park at the end of De Normandie Ave. Williams, Albert, Robards Park. We know we already have some management issues at the Fair Haven dock and Fair Haven Fields. We need to assess our capacity to maintain and manage this much public space.

But first, have we heard demands from the public for more water front parks?

Have we conducted any formal outreach to engage the residents in the area of this proposed park at the end of Fair Haven Road?

Before applying for any grants we should outreach and engage the public to hear their thoughts and concerns. Then with this information investigate the long-term viability of an idea, including ‪21 Fair Haven Rd.

After months of controversy, the planning board approved a Dunkin’ shop in the Fair Haven Shopping Center in 2019, and the store has now been operating for nearly a year. Has its presence diminished the small-town charm of Fair Haven, as some objectors feared? Would you be concerned if additional chain stores or restaurants wanted to set up shop in town?

 Yes and yes

Two of the top four goals in Fair Haven’s 2016 Master Plan call for 1) improved pedestrian and bicycle safety 2) improved character of the business district.

If we seriously want to address these goals we have to take a hard look at how we can achieve them. There are a limited number of levers available to accomplish this. One tool is through our local land use law, which helps us control the type of development we want. In 1972 River Road traffic concerns associated with a proposed fast food use compelled Fair Haven to adopt an ordinance prohibiting all fast food restaurants. This led to a lawsuit where the court upheld the intent of Fair Haven’s ordinance. Immediately following the judges ruling in January 1973 Fair Haven adopted Land Use Ordinance B-99 in which fast food uses were prohibited. All through the 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s and even beyond, this law was upheld.

My concerns echo those of Fair Haven’s borough council who fought for this ordinance many years ago even before traffic was what it is today. We should consider such an ordinance again.

Here are redbankgreen‘s Q&As with the other Fair Haven council candidates:

***** ELECTION GUIDE ***** 

• Find the Fair Haven ballot here.

• For information on the various ways to cast your vote, check out this article. It includes information on mail-in ballots and early, in-person voting, which begins October 23.

• Monmouth County election offices (300 Halls Mill Road, Freehold Township) will offer extended hours to allow for voters to apply for and drop off vote-by-mail ballots. The offices will be open on Friday, October 29 from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday, October 30 from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

• Finally, here’s a video on using Monmouth County’s new digital voting machines, which employ touchscreen technology familiar to users of smartphones and tablets:

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