This is the second post in a series of question asked by Bogota Blog NJ to the two candidates for Mayor and all four candidates running for the two available seat for Bogota Borough Council. The order in which the answers appear for the first question is determined by how the answers were received by Bogota Blog NJ. Because the Candidates from the Democratic Party have supplied their answers as a group both parties answer will be group together. After that the first question the answers will alternate between parties. I hope this is a fair, informative, and useful series of posts to be held over the next few days. There will be two questions with answers per post per day.
The Candidates for Council are Councilwoman Lisa Kohles, and her running mate Ingrid Brito for the Democratic Party. The Republican Candidates are Daniele Fede and Thomas Napolitano.The Candidates for Mayor are Republican Councilman Christopher Keleman. The Democrats Candidate is Mayor Tito Jackson. The Election Day is Tuesday 4-Nov. polls will be open starting at 6:00a and close at 8:00p
The Borough is going through what could be called a minor building boom. In addition to the Hess Site site what other areas of the Borough could be improved or redeveloped . Also what can the Borough do to attracted more business to move to Bogota.
Nobody realizes that we have more property for redeveloping. There is a big chunk of property across the Golf Center that has access north up to the Hess Site and West Fort Lee Road. This property at one time was the Goldberg Slipper Factory and there are a few acres of very valuable waterfront property available for a possible development. Believe it or not, our little town of Bogota has what I call a "Gold Coast". For years, no administration had taken any interest in this property since my dad was mayor in the mid eighties. I would like to re-examine that property for future development which can bring in a large amount of retables. Another problem we have in Bogota is the high rents that the businesses need to pay. Have we ever offered these landlords anything in order to help offset the rents? I am a business owner in town and it's not easy. I have to be creative, offer a good product, showcase professionalism and offer the best service around. I am accountable for my own success and my own failures, but success comes with delegation, enthusiasm, determination and respect. That's my plan and role as mayor, but support is needed as well. We have not had a chamber of commerce in years and I would like to introduce a chamber once again which I feel will enhance participation and success.
The largest site for development is the Hess site but the entire water front area would result in a greater project. The slipper factory is currently privately owned but could be an area for redevelopment. The commercial area along West Shore could also be improved. The master plan is about to be prepared and that is the crucial document to set the stage for redevelopment. We have no areas of open space so redevelopment would be our only option. As to attracting more business, the Chamber of Commerce should be reinvigorated and parking needs to be resolved. There is certainly not enough parking to support small businesses. Certainly niche and boutique businesses in districts ( like the antique row) is a good way to attract out of towners. We were famous for our beer supply store and many people from out of town come to our golf range and racquet club. Recreational locations seems to be the retail trend. We also need to set aesthetic standards as our retail windows are a bit over run by busy signs.
I am currently a member of Bogota’s Planning/Zoning Board and as a Professional Engineer I am pleased to be providing my expertise to the Borough in a very meaningful way. The redevelopment of the Hess Site has the potential to be the most exciting thing that has happened to our town in decades. It will be important to have a Mayor and Council working closely with the Planning Board, the Borough’s Planner and the Developer to make use of our valuable riverfront property in a way that best benefits our taxpayers. I will not allow any “sweetheart deals” for the developer! We do have other properties in town that are in need of redevelopment such as moving further north up the river to the abandoned slipper factory and the abandoned building at the intersection of Queen Anne Road and Linwood Ave. These decaying buildings bring down the value of our properties and should be turned into facilities that bring life as well as revenue into our community. It will also be critical for Bogota to be recognized as a place where we work together to foster an environment for business to grow. Our Mayor and Council must stop publically fighting and creating negative press that has embarrassed us all. I pledge to conduct myself professionally and treat my fellow citizens with respect. I believe this is the perfect time to elect a Professional Engineer to the Council.
Tito Jackson, Lisa Kohles, Ingrid Brito
First, the Hess site is an ideal location for mixed-use redevelopment. A combination of retail and multi-family housing will generate both tax revenue and create a new destination in town for residents to shop.
Second, one of the things we can do to make our town more business friendly is to make improvements to our downtown, especially the façade and appeal of Main St. There are grant programs available that we can apply for, making it financially viable or businesses to improve their curb appeal.
The last thing we can do to make Bogota more appealing to new businesses is to continue to maintain a safe and clean community. That, coupled with our strong demographics, will continue to make Bogota a top-tier locale for businesses.
There have been a number of community groups starting up over the last several years: The Bogota Community Alliance, Beautiful Bogota to go with established organization. PTO/PTA Local Girl & Boys Scout troops. What can the Borough do to help promote more citizen involvement.
Tito Jackson, Lisa Kohles, Ingrid Brito
Maintaining a strong democracy is directly linked to citizen activism and involvement. We would like to see more citizen involvement in both our government and community. One of the things we can do to promote citizen involvement is by making our municipal boards and commission appointments more accessible to the public.
We’re sure there are a number of residents who would like to serve on either the planning board, zoning board or environmental commission, just to name a few. Additionally, we can also bring back “Bogota Day”, giving residents a full understanding of the community-based organizations that are available for them to join and for them to make a real difference.
As a parent who's 5 children attended Bogota Public Schools, it was an honor to be a part of every second of my children's educational and childhood by being a class parent, volunteer and coach. Having a large family was a blessing. It kept me involved, created friendships and gave me Bogota Pride. It does not matter what group you belong to its just as important that you are a part of something in the town that you live in. People of all ages have a need to feel important and involved in this small community. When I become mayor, I want to reach out with our Borough Administrator, library commission, swim club trustees, police reserve, fire, rescue first aid and recreation department with the purpose to see how we can enhance more programs, increase memberships, introduce new clubs and reintroduce organizations that are rapidly diminishing. I will also meet with our surrounding community mayors to see how they enhance citizen involvement. People who get involved eventually become our next leaders in town.
Citizen involvement has always been a challenge, especially in the volunteer arena. It is an important part to our sense of community. Outreach is the best way to gain involvement. The Bogota Blog NJ and Bogota Bulletin provide free outlets for groups. Perhaps an evening at the Rec Center where each group explains their mission may help grow ranks. There are so many residents that are not involved in our community. The church groups and high school community service requirements may be another way to create new outlets. We need proven leaders to chair and sustain these groups as it takes a lot of dedication to keep these organizations going.
Community groups are such a vital part of any healthy borough and Bogota is an example of just that. I have personally been involved with community groups all my life. It gives me great joy to walk around town and hear “Hi Coach Tom” from one of the children I coach. Families are the backbone of our community. I understand that my position as Councilman will be a privilege and a responsibility. As leaders in Bogota we must create an atmosphere of inclusiveness and respect. I have always gotten back much more from my volunteer efforts. These efforts have provided me with a sense of love for the people and the community I serve. Community groups must be recognized and supported with our time, energy and assistance to look for funding opportunities both public as well as private. I will continue to work closely with our community leaders as Councilman Napolitano to bring an increase in pride back to Bogota.
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