Michael Patente for Raritan Borough Council
After the election, I would like to connect with Andy Sibilia (Rec Director) and his team. They have done a great job in the last few years rebuilding recreation and I’m excited to see what more we can add for residents of all ages. I’d like to see a splash park at the Woodmere St location since the pool there is currently unused. Also, the Frelinghuysen pool needs upgrades and repairs. With modifications made to the pool it could possibly allow us to have a Senior swim hour.
We can also repurpose some of our currently unused fields into multipurpose sports fields to accommodate soccer, lacrosse, field hockey and football. In addition, a Pickleball court can be added, and I would like to bring back the bocce ball court. Our new Boro Hall site (formerly PNC Bank on Somerset St} can also be an asset to the entire community if we utilized a part of it as a Community Center where we can host activities for children, teens, adults, and our senior citizens.
Safety for pedestrians and residents is a major concern and must always be placed at the forefront of our plans. With the purchase of the new Boro Hall being on the Main St and in the middle of town we will have more public parking available which would help shoppers and residents park safely and will reduce parking space needs. In 2020, when I was last on Council, I participated in a County sponsored review of Somerset Street with Police, County Planners/Engineers, Town Planners/Engineers to evaluate Street safety from First Avenue to Rt 206. Safety recommendations were made to fix many hazards, uneven areas, crosswalk issues, traffic softening, site view issues etc. At that time, I specifically brought up items such as better lighting and crossing alerts like the flashing signs seen in neighboring towns at our high traffic areas like First Avenue, the Raritan Library and Rt 206. Another concern at Rt 206 crossing, the time given barely allows pedestrians to cross safely. None of the recommendations have been implemented, I would want to pick up where this project left off and then proceed to work on these safety measures.
I’m running for Council because I care deeply about our Town and want to help improve the quality of life for both businesses and residents. Our Main (Somerset) street is an important part of making Raritan successful for both new and present businesses. A redevelopment plan with a clear vision needs to be considered, including zoning changes. We should investigate capping the types of businesses thus allowing a variety to attract shopping in town. I would like to see our town reestablish the Chamber of Commerce that would help business owners to promote and advocate on their own behalf. A Chamber would be extremely useful to develop networking in town and with those on 202, 206, and throughout all parts of town. On the Main St. there needs to be a consistency of the outside façade appearance which highlights our small-town charm and appeal. Previously the town had been awarded grants to help foster an attractive Street Scape which is something we should further investigate and take action to make some positive changes.
I’m a past member of The Raritan Economic Development Committee and the council needs to continue supporting them as they help businesses with multiple services and community events. In addition to the planters lining our Main Street and making it more inviting we need to continue by adding seasonal flowers and bright flags on our flag poles showing Raritan is Open and ready for business! Maybe parklets placed on Main St in no parking areas can add some outside character. We also need diverse members on town boards that can help highlight and promote our businesses and complement our community.
The Raritan Mall areas are two separate distinct properties with two different owners. The Bagel 4 U/Retro Gym/Dollar Tree mall was recently approved for redevelopment and the owner had asked that the Retro Bldg. be converted to apartments. I also believe the Stop and Shop Mall is now being looked at for redevelopment. Personally, I do not think this property is suitable for apartments based on prior flood occurrences. In any property, you must have an owner willing to build a value-added project which is profitable to them. For some reason, No grocery store chain has found that value here to date. I’m not sure what the Stop and Shop current owner’s plans are, but I certainly would set up a meeting to discuss this further if I’m elected.
Raritan born and raised, I started my education at St Joseph’s elementary school and graduated from BRHS West. A graduate of Middlesex County College, Livingston College, Rutgers University. In high school, I worked at the Department of Public Works in Raritan for a few summers under the Legendary Mr. Koral Marton. I also worked at the locally once famous Old York Inn and Bucky’s as a bartender. I was as an Investigator for the Somerset County Consumer Affairs Department for a few years before taking on my final role at National Starch and Chemical/Henkel, where I retired after 39 ½ years as the North American Pricing Manager. I’ve served on Raritan Town Council for two years. One as an appointment and one being elected to fill an open term. I ‘ve coached Pop Warner football in Raritan and my daughter’s Softball team. I was Chairman of the Raritan Board of Adjustment for many years. I’m also past Chairman of St Ann’s Pastoral Council and past Grand Knight of the Sgt John Basilone Knights of Columbus. I have been married to my wonderful wife Dilette for 46 years and have two beautiful daughters Nicole and Erica who are married to Alejandro and Eric. They have blessed us with three grandchildren Alexia, Enzo and Giara, whom all happily reside in the town in which I was raised, Raritan.
I have noticed many roads in town are in bad shape so I would like to add a Bond in addition to Grant work to step up the current rebuild program so that we can make more improvements annually. I also think we need to add a bond fund to purchase open land or houses in town for additional parking since we have been reacting too slowly to get these properties. Being fiscally responsible, I would not Bond any amount which would increase taxes.
As campaigns go on, there may be some common ideas on both sides, however the biggest difference and most important to residents is where the Town Hall, Police and Public Works will be in the future. Council President Carra has just led the Council in purchasing the PNC bank on Somerset Street which will be the new Town Hall / Community Center. In addition, the old Town Hall on First Street will be converted into the Police Station. All work at the Police Station will be covered by a grant ($2,275,000). Both actions have saved the town well over $5,000,000. It seems our opponents still want to build a Police/Fire building at the old Washinton School site using a bond of over $10,000,000. In addition, we also want to keep our Public Works Department in town. Operations are working well at their current site and services have never been quicker or more efficient. Our opponents want to move the DPW to Hillsborough. If this move is made our Garbage trucks, due to weight limits, will always have to travel on 206, let alone other logistics during rain or snow. They would also spend another $1,000,000 to $2,000,000 on a new building due to a previous county agreement. So, if you want fiscal responsibility and savings with a great new Town Hall/Community Center plus a new updated Police Department Building and want to keep our Public Works in town, the answer is Clear, Vote for Carra, Tozzi and Patente!