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Hightstown 2012: A Year of Intense Action With Little Actual Results

A resident's recap of Hightstown 2012 highlights. How the residents step up and the local government once again failed to live up to its public promises.

As 2013 begins, we should reflect on what happened during the past year. Progress made, along with the accomplishments and disappointments. The economy was tough for most of the people we know and our hopes and dreams were somewhat restrained by the needs of those around us and our attempts to help when and wherever possible. We were reminded that hope and faith in a better tomorrow was what kept some of our neighbors going. And without real hope for improvement the road forward is very difficult if not impossible.

During the storm, which was going to flood Hightstown out of existence once and for all, we learned that better preparation and some luck are all that we needed to stay dry and intact. While the power went out in some parts of Hightstown, neighbors ran cables from their generators to help one another. In some respects, the storm brought neighbors together, and that is usually very good as long as they are not gathering to burn down the townhall or your home.

We came together several times to show through a fair, parade or other events that community spirit is high and pride in Hightstown remains strong.

What also happened is a list of failures and lost opportunities, which we need to reflect on. The Borough Hall Complex remains empty with no public timetable released for rebuilding. All major commercial property development plans and approvals are still among the missing. Some demand discussions on the “Vision for Hightstown” while we fail to take action for another year on the REALITIES of Hightstown. 

The Bridge Project went from Community Involvement at $75,000.00 to a need for taxpayer infusion of an additional $150,000.00. We have bonded another million or so this year and still have the outstanding bonds for the hurricane, which have not been paid off by the insurance company or FEMA. We have an administration, which is proud that it has stalled the council from any meaningful action to improve Hightstown for yet another year.

As residents, taxpayers and concerned citizens, our wish for 2013 should be that during the January 7 Reorganization Meeting the council presents or declares a formal 2013 Action Plan for Hightstown along with a timetable for implementation which must be kept. Have each member declare their support or opposition to the plan. They should also publicly resolve to reject calls that previously side tracked their plans while continuing to remain open to constructive public comment. 

In 2012 the council’s opponents wrongly accused it of both secrete meetings and of wasting time with public meetings concerning the Borough Hall Complex. In 2013 the council should dedicate itself to tangible results and not just redoubling its efforts. Hightstown should not go another year without solid progress and results. You cannot improve Hightstown without a real plan. Keep Hope Alive.

I have always supported public plans and open government. I have also openly
opposed the Mayor and Borough Administrator as obstructionists dedicated to the destruction of Hightstown. Let them prove me wrong through their actions in 2013 and I will applaud them publicly.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Robert Langdon January 02, 2013 at 10:35 PM
A debate between Gibbons and Sarafin would need some specifics such as: Resolve that the location of Borough Hall is significant to the future development of Hightstown or Resolve that there are immediate uses for the two large commercial properties that will occur instantly with no added costs or impact to the Borough. Also Resolve that the elected members of council have education and experiences related to governmental issues before taking office. As to my plan of action for 2013 awaited by Mr.Gibbons.it will be the plan of the planning board and the business organizations of Hightstown with economic interests that will present a well thought out realistic plan without actions that would be detrimental to our future development. My opposition is to building a municipal complex with police facilities, a jail, a court, municipal offices and council chambers when the insurance money can be better employed in a facility with a multiple purpose design for future needs in a merged community.
Eugene E Sarafin January 02, 2013 at 10:57 PM
There are two views of what and where we are going and how we should proceed along with JP Gibbons' opinion of misrepresentations by me and qualifications of the Borough administrator. First Mike Theokis brings the experience of serving on Borough council, managing his own business, and a college degree as well as a football player with team credentials. the only on the job training he is receiving is dealing with a paranoid, ignorant, arrogant, unenlightened mix of council members who don't do their homework but know more than the experts they employ. these are facts not misrepresentations.
JP Gibbons January 02, 2013 at 10:58 PM
Again you fail to acknowledge that the insurance company is required by the terms of the policy to replace what was lost not build you and the Planning Board what they want where they want it. Secondly, I am sure Gene and I both would love to have you join us for an open honest discussion of the plans for Hightstown. You would have another chance to give the GHEWIP position based on their studies and said to represent the entire Downtown Business Community which is bull. Elected officials are determined to be qualified by the fact they are elected. Paid professional are expeced to have solid education or actual experience as qualifications. Want to try again?
JP Gibbons January 02, 2013 at 11:17 PM
Thank you Gene for clarifying what you mean by "Totally Qualified" when refering to Mike Theokis. You failed to mention that he did not complete his term on Borough Council. As you know, there is a major difference between being responsible for public money and assets or your own. You can throw away your money but should not do the same with taxpayer money. That is why many business ventures go out of business or just fail outright. Solid management is critical to the success or failure of both public and private operations.
Eugene E Sarafin January 02, 2013 at 11:35 PM
It is the Voices of Hightstown party line to plow ahead with putting a replacement Borough Hall, court. Council Chambers , and police facilities with a cell block to restore the fifty year old facility to its grandness when it first opened in 1961 on the site of a former auto repair garage and under the leadership of Mayor Milton Cunningham who battled the spendthrifts in accomplishing the task. It is the voices of GWIP. Downtown Hightstown, the Borough Planning Board, local business person, and citizens with foresight that say take the money and buy or rent a facility not in a flood plain, and one that has other uses for future needs. They see no commanding reason to locate the municipal offices downtown or uptown as the primary reason to do so. JP Gibbons is promoting his view of Hightstown and its municipal offices with his proteges on Council and providing editorial opinions in the Patch and else where to further his agenda of status quo and myopia. I buy the opinions of my fellow citizens serving on committees and boards as to the location of a municipal building.

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