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Plainsboro Township Committee 2009

NOVEMBER 2009 PLAINSBORO TOWNSHIP
COMMITTEE CANDIDATES QUESTIONNAIRE RESPONSES

NON-PARTISAN ELECTION INFORMATION

Vote Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Polls are open in Plainsboro from 6 AM to 8 PM

EDITOR'S NOTE: These are the verbatim responses of the candidates for Plainsboro Township Committee to questions presented by The League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area, in cooperation with The Princeton Packet. The candidates were given an equal amount of space for their answers.

Candidates – Vote for two (three year term)

Neil J. Lewis (incumbent, deputy mayor) - Democrat, Vice President, XenoBiotic Laboratories, Inc.

Nuran Nabi (incumbent) - Democrat, Senior Vice President and Board member, Applied Research & Photonics Inc.

Paul O'Brien – Republican, Broker/Owner, for Golden Rule Real Estate, LLC in Plainsboro

What strategies would you support in order to cut costs and boost revenues?

Mr. Lewis:
Plainsboro continues to be a leader in community planning and consolidated cost controls. This assists with one of the lowest municipal tax rates, and consistently high bond ratings in the County. Plainsboro’s record is one of successful awards and grants, amounting to millions of dollars, in outside funding for community projects including open space preservation, intersectional improvements, public safety and recreational funds for special program support. Plainsboro serves as a leading participant in shared and cooperative services with the County, the Cranbury court system, and school system to achieve reduced purchasing and insurance costs for taxpayers. We are working with Middlesex County for state grants for shared public safety dispatch services. Corporate and individual donations, and grants, totaling some $2 million, will offset costs for the new Plainsboro Library. Nuran Nabi and I support continued creative approaches to cost reduction, to ensure quality services at lowest possible cost. Plainsboro will become home to a major medical center with health care supporting services, and continues with the evolution of our Village Center. These represent important sources of future services and revenues that will benefit the residents of Plainsboro.

Mr. Nabi:
Plainsboro Township Committee has earned recognition for its leadership role in community planning and consolidated cost controls which resulted in lowest municipal tax rates, and consistently high bond ratings in the County. Plainsboro has received millions of dollars outside funding in grants and awards for community projects including open space preservation, intersectional improvements, public safety and recreational funds for special program support. Township Committee has pursued a policy of shared and cooperative services with the County, the Cranbury court system, and school system to achieve reduced purchasing and insurance costs for taxpayers. We are working with Middlesex County for state grants for shared public safety dispatch services. Corporate and individual donations, and grants, totaling some $2 million, will offset costs for the new Plainsboro Library. Neil Lewis and I support continued creative approaches to cost reduction, to ensure quality services at lowest possible cost. Plainsboro will become home to the new University Medical Center of Princeton with health care supporting services, and continues with the evolution of our Village Center. These represent important sources of future services and revenues that will benefit the residents of Plainsboro.

Mr. O'Brien:
Generally, cooperative purchasing programs, cost, service, and equipment sharing can lead to savings when utilized appropriately. Many cost savings and revenue generating initiatives for municipalities are related to statutes and regulations in the form of unfunded mandates. Such unfunded mandates impact business practices at the local level, as they require local government to spend money to perform certain actions without providing financial assistance. I will generate local support to join the existing efforts to reform these policies.

Specifically, I will actively observe the current work flow processes and systems in place in order to provide valid recommendations. While I led several organizations in the private sector, I found that approaching new endeavors as a “whole process” thinker always worked best for me. By considering the desired end result and working backwards in evaluating systems, processes, and utilization, I was able to diagnose problem areas and propose protocols for improvement. As a leader, I have found that when employees or stakeholders take ownership over their part of the process, the result is greater efficiency and effectiveness.\

What are Plainsboro's transit needs? How would you address them?

Mr. Lewis:
The Township Committee has responded energetically with efforts to address the transit needs of the community. This includes past and current efforts to provide effective public transportation, major traffic calming projects and assisting with intersectional and bike path improvements to reduce traffic and environmental impacts within the community. Plainsboro successfully worked with NJTransit to improve bus service with the “600” bus line that runs more frequently throughout the area, including access to the Princeton Junction train station. Additionally, a new community shuttle bus, with discounting for seniors and disabled persons, will be underway courtesy of regional efforts with Middlesex County. This will connect the Village Center to other points in the county, and includes transportation to Princeton Junction train station. Enhanced bus shelters for interstate buses during morning and evening commutes have been successful in serving the community. Nuran Nabi and I are committed to working tirelessly to keep Plainsboro a quality community in which to live, work and visit. Vigilant oversight of the transportation needs of the community is essential to ensure this.

Mr. Nabi:
The Township Committee has responded energetically with efforts to address the transit needs of the community. This includes past and current efforts to provide effective public transportation, major traffic calming projects and assisting with intersectional and bike path improvements to reduce traffic and environmental impacts within the community. Plainsboro successfully worked with NJTransit to improve bus service with the “600” bus line that runs more frequently throughout the area, including access to the Princeton Junction train station. Additionally, a new community shuttle bus, with discounting for seniors and disabled persons, will be underway courtesy of regional efforts with Middlesex County. This will connect the Village Center to other points in the county, and includes transportation to Princeton Junction train station. Enhanced bus shelters for interstate buses during morning and evening commutes have been successful in serving the community. Neil Lewis and I are committed to working tirelessly to keep Plainsboro a quality community in which to live, work and visit. Vigilant oversight of the transportation needs of the community is essential to ensure this.

Mr. O'Brien:
Driving into and out of Plainsboro during peak hours has become increasingly difficult due to traffic congestion. Due to Plainsboro’s proximity to mass transit and several major roadways, an increase in the volume of vehicles on the road has become obvious. Fortunately, a Community Transit Service Survey was recently conducted by the Michael Baker Jr. Corporation, on behalf of the Plainsboro Department of Planning and Zoning. The survey focused on gathering information and suggestions for enhancing transit options, both within Plainsboro and to area destinations. A report summarizing the survey results is expected to be completed by the end of the year. I look forward to reviewing the results of this survey, along with an impact study on the new hospital, with the project team. As a Plainsboro resident, I am excited to help find a solution to the traffic problems that have become frustrating to many in this township.

What is your ideal vision for Plainsboro in the coming years, and how would you help achieve it?

Mr. Lewis:
Plainsboro can be viewed as a maturing community that successfully achieved permanent preservation of 50% of its land. Our efforts must focus on preserving quality of life within the Township via local and regional initiatives, and preserving the economic health of the community. Plainsboro has received recognition nationally as one of 100 top places to live. Nuran Nabi and I are committed to ensuring Plainsboro remains a fine place to live and work. A successful effort has led to open space preservation, establishment of the 1000 acre Plainsboro Preserve, and evolution of the Village Center which will help define township character for the future. Quality management of expanded parks and recreation network, opening of the enhanced Plainsboro Library in the Village Center, and dedication of the old library to community programs will add to the quality of life a within Plainsboro. An encouraging future for quality health care and services is evident in the construction of the University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro. We need to remain committed to broad-range creative community planning/oversight, and continuing cost-effective quality municipal services - -delivered by a dedicated team of Township professionals and community volunteers, working closely with our elected officials.

Mr. Nabi:
Plainsboro is small but beautiful. It has already gained reputation nationwide for its policy of permanent preservation of 50% of its land, award winning new Town Center, one of 100 best place to live and start small business, and millions of outside funding for community projects. Neil Lewis and I are committed to ensuring Plainsboro remains a fine place to live and work. We focus our efforts on preserving quality of life within the Township via local and regional initiatives, and preserving the economic health of the community. Our successful effort led to open space preservation, establishment of the 1000 acre Plainsboro Preserve, and evolution of the Village Center which will help define township character for the future. Expanded parks and recreation network, opening of the enhanced Plainsboro Library, and dedication of the old library to community programs will improve the quality of life within Plainsboro. The construction of the University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro will improve the quality health care services of the residents. Neil Lewis and I will remain committed to broad-range creative community planning/oversight, and continuing cost-effective quality municipal services.

Mr. O'Brien:
A major aspect of my ideal vision for Plainsboro is to foster new and continued growth in the business community, including full occupancy of retail and office space on both sides of Rt. 1. Surveying Plainsboro’s residents and business owners will provide useful data for this endeavor. Specifically, future business cultivation efforts will be targeted to address the unmet needs identified by said survey. Proactive measures based on these needs, coupled with awareness campaigns encouraging Plainsboro residents to “Think Plainsboro First”, will keep their dollars in town. It is no secret that people love Plainsboro for its rural setting coupled with its close proximity to several major highways. However, we must address rote shopping behaviors of our residents, such as “automatically” taking these highways out of town for their shopping ventures. We must strive to meet both the shopping and commerce needs of our residents in-town. This can be initiated by filling vacant office and retail space, and working towards a stable economic balance in the township. Meeting consumers’ needs closer to home would encourage a mindset of shopping locally, instill township-wide customer loyalty, and improve the quality of life for all Plainsboro residents.

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