Byram council discusses commerical growth

Frustration expressed over lack of businesses

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By Megan LaTorre

– Considerable strategic discussion pertaining to the economic and commercial growth of the town enveloped the Byram Township Council meeting on Sept. 2, particularly the impact and roles of the Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC).

Township Manager Joseph Sabatini and Councilman Scott Olson were the first to speak on the committee, one of the discussion topics of the evening.

Both Sabatini and Olson have acted as liaisons to the EDAC.

The two points pertaining to EDAC broached by Sabatini were a vacancy in the committee and two potential candidates, and, primarily, the committee's focus and objective as a whole.

“I don’t think their focus is in the right place,” said Sabatini. “There’s a lot of discussion about Route 206, of course, and the impacts it’s had, but also on beautification, as opposed to possibly focusing on what they need to do to attract and identify the right businesses for our town.”

Olson suggested that the council provide a firm focus and direction for the EDAC. Olson said that the committee focuses on issues that should not be the priority, particularly discussions of Route 206.

“Route 206 could be done tomorrow and it doesn’t solve many of our problems," Olsen said. "There are a whole lot of other issues with the empty businesses, sign ordinates, the 20-year plan ... I think as a whole the council needs to try and pick a direction and give them [EDAC] a firm focus that they should be working on.”

Councilman David Gray offered to have both the EDAC and the council create separate lists bulleting the top five priorities for the committee to focus on before coming together and discussing them.

“I think EDAC is still new,” Mayor James Oscovitch said. “I think they still need to generate their mission statement and what they want to see in the town, because that is why they were chosen. And there’s a lot of talent on that committee.”

Joann Smith, who sits on the EDAC, was present at the meeting.

“Business owners on the committee feel that they have nothing to offer and that the businesses in this town are too separate,” Smith said.

Smith recalls driving on Route 206 through Princeton and seeing countless stores, strip malls, and supermarkets, and expressed frustration at not being able to do the same in Byram.

“Why? Is it because we can’t offer these people water, city, sewer, natural gas? Is that our downfall in this town? I don’t know,” Smith said.

Oscovitch said the reason chain restaurants do not want to come to Byram was due to the septic system and its complications.

The next Byram Township Council meeting will be held Sept. 16, the regular session begins at 7:30 p.m.

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