Mayor, councilman seek return to office

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:48

    BYRAM-Back some 30 years ago, when Byram was still a small community known more for its lakes rather than it's shopping plaza, township residents recognized most others on a first-name basis. With more than 5,000 extra faces now living in town, longtime resident Eskil "Skip" Danielson finds it a little bit more difficult, but he hopes local voters are more than familiar with his name early next month. Danielson, seeking his first elected term as mayor of Bryam, and James Oscovitch, up for re-election to the four-member council, will be running unopposed on election day, May 10. In Byram, the mayor and all council members are elected at-large in non-partisan elections for four-year staggered terms. Elected officials enter office on July 1 of the election year. Danielson is filling the seat vacated November 2002 by former Mayor Charles Vitale. Since taking office, Danielson has overseen a number of professional appointments, including a new township manager, and improvements to recreational facilities, most notably C.O. Johnson Park. He also cited development of a master plan that includes a designated town center as achievements during his short tenure. Danielson also has been an advocate of a Department of Transportation plan to expand Route 206 to five lanes through town. He "has reluctantly, but necessarily" supported council resolutions to approve widening of the roadway to first 58 feet and now to the proposed 62 feet. The project, still in the planning stages, has drawn ire from some residents who fear the expansion attracts urban sprawl to the small community. "The experts indicated that's what they feel is best," said Danielson. "I'd like to see traffic down to conditions they were, but that's not a reality." Danielson said that despite its growth, preserving open space will always remain high on the Byram agenda. "We have to do everything we can to see that development in town -- on areas designated for development -- is consistent with what we'd like to see here." As mayor, Danielson said he has been flexible and open to opposing views. He cites the recently enacted Highlands legislation, which he opposed at first, as an example. "There were things that had to change so that the legislation would become more user-friendly," he said. "Our aquifer in Byram has a lot of people that depend on it for water and that's important. So, the Highlands legislation is a reality for a town that's a defacto watershed." Danielson, who sits on the New Jersey Conferences of Mayors, said he would continue to explore property tax relief for residents in a second term. He is proud to say that despite the economic demands being placed on families now having to contend with sometimes more than three jobs per household, volunteer efforts have increased in Byram; particularly in emergency services, which he considers his forte. Danielson, who holds a bachelor's degree in government public administration and two masters' in criminal justice, served on both the Lenape Valley Regional High School and Byram boards of education. He is a former two-term charter study commissioner, chief of police, and longtime emergency squad member in town.