FAIR HAVEN: KOCH Q&A

On the ballot November 2: Fair Haven council candidate Betsy Koch. (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 An outdated list of polling places was incorrectly included in the original version of this post.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.

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

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

Elizabeth “Betsy” Koch

Age: NA

Address:  27 Sycamore Lane, Fair Haven, NJ 07704

Where did you grow up? Crestwood, NY

Where did you go to high school? Maria Regina HS, Hartsdale, NY

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

BS/Chemistry State University of NY, New Paltz

M.Ed/Science Education Rutgers University

Have your served in the military? If so, which branch and when?  No

What do you do for a living?  Retired Educator

How long have you been a resident of Fair Haven? 46y

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

I taught Science and Math at Knollwood school for 23y.

I have been a member of the FH Parks and Recreation Committee for over 30 y.

I am an active board member of the Foundation of Fair Haven.

Joe Perrotto and I created the Wall of Honor (which honors Knollwood graduates who are currently serving in all branches of the US Military) and maintain the Wall with the help of our committee.

I have served on the Fair Haven Council for the past 4 years.  I am currently liaison to Parks and Recreation, Planning and Zoning, Communications, FH Historic Preservation Commission and sub-liasion to Personnel.  I also serve on the Brush committee and Land Use Committee.

Party affiliation:  Republican

How important is party affiliation to you? What does it mean to you to be a member of your party?

Although my party affiliation is Republican, I believe at the municipal level of government party affiliation is not important.  What matters is we have a cohesive group of 6 council members and a mayor who volunteer their time and efforts to improving the quality of life and social conditions for all residents while being fiscally responsible and transparent.

To me, being a member of the Republican party means I am fiscally responsible and as a member of the FH Borough Council I believe we have a responsibility to our residents keep property taxes stable and evaluate all financial perspectives as we consider possible new capital projects.

Do you have a role model in public life? Who and why? 

Eleanor Roosevelt.  Mrs. Roosevelt was the first First Lady to become involved in politics in her own way.  She gave press conferences and spoke out for human rights, children’s causes and women’s issues.  Eleanor was an incredible asset to her husband during WWII and was instrumental in advocating Women’s Rights in the workplace during this period of time.  After the death of her husband Franklin, Eleanor took her place on the international stage.  Among her many accomplishments was chairing the subcommittee of the Commission of Human Rights.

Why are you running for Fair Haven council? 

I have lived in Fair Haven for 46y.  Being a retired educator has afforded me the time and opportunity to give back to our wonderful community. My daughter and her family recently purchased a home in Fair Haven so I have an even more vested interest in maintaining the quality of life and small-town character of our town for our family’s future.  We are embarking on 2 major projects: rebuilding the DPW and Police Station.   It is going to be a challenge to complete these projects in a fiscally prudent way but I am prepared to fight for our tax payers and contain costs.

What are the most pressing issues facing the town, and how do you plan to address them?

I believe the plan to rebuild our DPW and Police Station are the most pressing issues facing our town.  It is important for all of us to be fiscally responsible and maintain a stable tax base as we develop these projects which we expect to last for the next 50 years or more.  As I meet with residents and listen to their concerns bicycle and pedestrian safety is topic often brought up as well as the repair and maintenance of our roads and sidewalks.

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

If elected I would like to continue my participation in the various committees I represent currently.  As a 30y+ member of Parks and Recreation I have been instrumental in improving and maintaining all areas of our parks and recreational facilities.  We have been successful in partnering with many interlocal agencies – our new tennis courts in FHF being one example.  I would like to continue to explore other options our town can participate in – in an effort to reduce spending.  As liaison to the Planning and Zoning Boards I would like to continue to work with our residents to explore ways to simplify Land Use ordinances which effect residential development and the impact of overbuilding in our neighborhoods.  Working with our Communications Committee I will continue to advocate for inclusion and transparency for issues which affect the quality of life and small-town character of our town.

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?

I support building a new DPW and Police Station that is functional, low maintenance and cost efficient.  I have not seen any final plans so it would not be possible to show support at this time.  My greatest concern is cost and while our Borough professionals have estimated a combined cost of $15M, it is a number which demands close scrutiny and evaluation by our elected officials.

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.

I met with the residents of Hance Road, Cooney Terrace and Grange Ave early in the process.  I agreed with them that sidewalks were not a necessary component of the projected roadwork.  Approximately 60-70% of the homes on Hance Road have curbs and I would be willing to support a plan that replaces existing curbing where necessary.  Our Borough Engineer has identified several locations in the roadway where drainage is an issue and needs possible grade modifications.  I would support that work if it improves existing road conditions.  Lastly there are concerns that some trees would have to be removed due to disease or are located in a site which interferes with sight lines.  I would support hiring a certified arborist to assess the health and location of these trees.  I do not believe it is in any of our residents’ best interest to sacrifice the grant.  We need to work together to find an outcome which we can all agree upon and proceed with the necessary roadwork.

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? 

I am not in favor of purchasing this property.  Although we have applied to several sources for funding there will still be significant costs associated with this acquisition.  We have several waterfront sites already and are in the process of upgrading pocket parks at the end of Grange Ave and Hance Rd as well as replacing the boat ramp at the end of Battin Road.  We are currently in the process of finalizing plans for 2 very large capital projects (DPW/Police Station) which will affect our property taxes and this property will not only be an expensive purchase but will also take this property off our tax rolls.  I am also concerned about the ability of our DPW to take on another major maintenance responsibility.  One more major acquisition could necessitate adding more personnel to our DPW department which would have a significant impact on our personnel costs in terms of salary and benefits.

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?

Initially I was opposed to the Dunkin Doughnuts shop for reasons of pedestrian and bike safety.  Over the past 18 months my fears have been diminished but not dismissed. However, the entire process created a great deal of controversy in our town which truly distressed me.  I am not anxious to participate in the process again.

If there’s anything you’d like to add, please do so here:

It has been my honor to serve the residents of Fair Haven for the past 4 years.  If I am fortunate enough to win re-election to the Fair Haven Council I will continue to work tirelessly to maintain our sense of community, quality of life and small-town character which defines Fair Haven.

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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