The future of Lakewood

 

Explosive Growth

As has been widely reported in recent years, the Orthodox community of Lakewood has been experiencing tremendous growth. In order to serve the community, hundreds of communal institutions have been established, including synagogues, yeshivas, and kollels.

The community faces an enormous strain in accommodating the unceasing demand on resources, including new housing, schools, services etc. A short tour around town will confirm that the growth is continuing unabated. Housing development is continuing at an accelerated rate, with new neighborhoods constantly being built.

Over-development has placed a strain on already limited resources with skyrocketing property taxes and traffic nightmares among the most dire consequences.

 

Political Implications

In recent years, the political agenda has slowly evolved to align with the special interests of a select few, while ignoring the plight of the population at large. For many Lakewood residents, their quality of life has been significantly impacted. Roads that were built with several thousand people in mind must now accommodate close to one hundred thousand. Growth is possible but without responsibility and accountability, it will lead to chaos.

A recent proposal that came before the township to build a mall in a highly populated area led to a severe public backlash. Under this proposal, the township would have provided land worth a hundred million dollars to developers at absolutely no cost! This shopping center, complete with a theater, would have created a tremendous strain on the already beleaguered town. Traffic would have soared, competitors would have been destroyed and it would have created an unhealthy outlet for youth –weakening the moral fabric of Lakewood. Due to harsh criticism from the community, the project has been suspended. There is no reassurance that this plan could reappear at a future date.

Real Problems – Real Solutions

Avraham Sharaby and Dovid Gruman are running for the Lakewood committee. Sharaby is running on the Republican side and Gruman is running on the Democrat side.

Sharaby started out in Lakewood in his early twenties studying in Beth Medrash Govoha and is currently working as a real estate broker. He is married with three children and once he is elected committeeman, he has concrete plans to alleviate the financial suffering and improve the quality of life.

He has in the last few years, worked closely with politicians and other groups of interest to fight legislation that would harm the sanctity of marriage and permit assisted suicide. His efforts to protect traditional values have been highly successful and a have led to results.

Dovid Gruman is a 3rd generation Lakewood resident. His grandfather was a talmid of Rav Aharon Kotler Zatzal. Dovid was born in Lakewood and has been living in Lakewood his entire life. He studied in BethMedrash Govoha for 9 Years and  is married with 3 children.  Gruman is proud to have his business headquartered right here in Lakewood’s industrial park.

Growing up in Lakewood, Gruman has seen much change in this town. He remembers driving on Route 9, just 15 years ago in middle of the day with no traffic. Lakewood is a beautiful town with a lot to offer and is a great place to live and raise a family. Dovid would like to show our residents just how much better it can be.

It is easy to enumerate problems, but Mr. Sharaby & Mr. Gruman are ready to work with real solutions that would address some of the real issues Lakewood faces. There are no quick fixes but there are immediate steps that can be taken to alleviate the situation. Some of Mr. Sharaby & Mr. Grumans’ suggested proposals include:

Increasing the township’s income.

A full revamp of public works.

Checks and balances on all purchasing decisions. Assessment of privatizing services with a tax credit for certain developments that are putting a strain on services throughout the town.

Engineering and attorney services should be outsourced to lowest bidders, ensuring no conflict of interests in Lakewood.

Blue Claws contract should be renegotiated. Stadium should be profitable for township not only for the Blue claws. The stadium can be used for more events off season that benefit Lakewood. The Strand Theater should be managed profitably.

An end to all spot zoning and zoning variances that change the character of neighborhoods and lead to traffic nightmares.

A self-audit to find all wasteful spending and non-essential services to save taxpayers money. Work with BOE members to identify waste in the educational system. No longer should the committee excuse itself from BOE matters that involve spending township tax dollars.

Work with the league of municipalities to push Trenton to change the school funding formula which could grant Lakewood taxpayers a sizable savings on property taxes.

Full transparency on all township activities.

Focus on federal and state grants to repair infrastructure and areas in need of revitalization. Grant tax incentives to investors willing to fix blighted areas in town.

A full revamp of the UEZ.  Work with future NJ Governors on ideas to benefit the state while granting Lakewood a portion of sales taxes collected to be used for business development only, and not for special interest giveaways.

The Future

Both Sharaby and Gruman want a Township committee that has the best interests of ALL the people of Lakewood at heart. No longer can residents afford a system that favors the interests of a few without consideration for others. They want to create a system where we can address the issues of every area and make Lakewood even greater.

—Avraham Sharaby

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