FANWOOD, NJ -- Mayor Colleen Mahr slammed an editorial in the August 14 edition of the The Scotch Plains-Fanwood Times ("Politics Should Be Kept Out of Fanwood RR Parking Permits") that suggested the Fanwood Borough Council considered raising the cost of parking permits for non-Fanwood residents to $800 a year as political payback for Scotch Plains council members who rejected a proposed merger of the two communities' police forces.
The paper claimed that the proposed hike "was really on Scotch Plains residents as they are the only non-borough residents using the lot" and suggested that motivation for the vote was because "some Fanwood council members are incensed that a majority of Scotch Plains council members shot down a plan supported by Fanwood for a join police force for the two towns." Editors also opined that "Fanwood should not be taking out its frustrations on Scotch Plains commuters on the police merger issue."
"I don't know what the purpose (of the editorial) was, but it didn't get anywhere," said Mayor Mahr at the Fanwood Borough Council meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 19. "We have a good working relationship with members of the Scotch Plains council."
Mahr was a supporter of a proposal that would have merged the two towns' police departments into one, whereby each town would have an equal say in the governing structure of the new department. Her goal for the Joint Structure merger was "to improve services and save money." She believed the plan would work because the two towns have a long history of shared services, including the school system.
Scotch Plains Councilman Bo Vastine was among the opponents of the Joint Structure format in which each town would have a representative and would name a third member as a tie-breaker in decision-making. Vastine was unconvinced that savings would materialize for Scotch Plains residents because the town would pay for 75 percent of the operating costs of a merged department, and he was also uncomfortable with the prospect of having Scotch Plains' interests out-voted, 2-1, in the Joint Structure merger.