Vartan's Views - Council Meeting March 5th

My three thoughts from the council meeting on March 5th:

1. Honoring Quinn Butler

2. Sidewalk Master Plan

3. 7 Cedar Street

My thoughts on Full-Day Kindergarten

Vote on Tuesday November, 6! #VoteVartan

A Leader Who Seeks to Unite - 10.30.18

Campaign Update: Canvass benchmark alert!

The Vartan for Council campaign has knocked on every single door in Ward 2! Thank you to our campaign volunteers. We could not have accomplished this without you!

Vartan's Views - October 16, 2018

Below you’ll find the TAPinto Summit summary of the Council meeting on 10/16/18.

This is the last edition of Vartan’s Views before the election on November 6th. What started with a blog all the way back in April has blossomed into these short videos for two main reasons. The first is to quickly summarize what actually happened at the council meetings, and the second to make my positions on the issues actually facing our Council totally clear to people.

If I’m honored to be elected as our next Councilman from Ward 2, I would pledge to continue Vartan’s Views for the entirety of my term. 

Here are my three thoughts from the Council meeting on Oct 16. 

1) The Council introduced a resolution to restructure the committees. The current structure doesn’t exactly line up with the work being done by the different City Departments and community boards and commissions. I think this change will help from an organizational perspective, it doesn’t cost anything, and I’m supportive! 

2) The Council approved a grant application to the NJ Department of Transportation for beautification of Phase 1 of the Parkline. This is the part of the parkline that already exists and is already in use. For that reason, and with the time-sensitivity of many of these grant applications, I understand why the Council voted on it now. It is absolutely key, however, that even if it costs us grant money we absolutely must wait on anything else related to the Parkline until there’s a public meeting to discuss it. 

3) There are 2 men from Summit who received the Congressional Medal of Honor. Thanks to the hard-work in researching their story, the American Legion proposed an idea for a monument on the Village Green honoring the memory of these brave men. I think it is fantastic that the Council approved the use of the land and I encourage everyone to donate to the 

American Legion Post 322 
PO Box 757
Summit, NJ 07902 

What are your thoughts? 

October 16, 2018 Council Meeting Summary (TapInto Summit)

Vartan's Views - October 2, 2018

Below you’ll find the TAPinto Summit summary of the Council meeting on 10/2/18.

Here are my three thoughts:

The Council has been hearing directly from the various boards and commissions on the their main areas of focus. The Department of Community Programs Advisory Board is yet another board filled with passionate and talented volunteers. They laid out several innovative and reasonable ways to optimize usage of field space. I look forward to diving in and learning more about the potential there.

Loading zones were established for the downtown. These areas will be clearly marked as such and it should ease traffic downtown and make it safer. Two things we should always be striving to improve!

There is currently a small bike locker at the train station. We’ve entered into an agreement with NJ Transit to build a bigger one. I think that’s a good thing since there are always lots of bikes locked up outside the train station. That doesn’t look great and they can also get stolen. This bigger bike locker will keep more bikes secure.

What do you think?

October 2, 2018 council meeting summary (TAPinto Summit)

Vartan's Views - September 17, 2018

Below you’ll find the TAPinto Summit summary of the Council meeting on 9/17/18.

Here are my three thoughts: 

1) Happy Constitution Week! The 231st annual celebration of the document was made official by Mayoral Proclamation alongside members of the Daughters of the American Revolution. 

2) Wallace Rd has experienced flooding issues since the 1960s. Residents from Wallace Rd have been coming before Council and city staff-members since then to see what can be done to fix this situation. An excellent presentation was given by Rick Matias presenting several options for how to address this issue. Whether these options are feasible, and the cost associated with each will require some more exploration. In addition, both Canoe Brook Golf Course and the County will both need to be part of the conversation. But it looks like soon this issue will finally be resolved. 

3) Aaron Schrager gave a very interesting presentation on traffic signals or traffic “lights” to use the layman’s term. In addition to the striking size of the signals, I was surprised by much of the presentation. Each of the signals has a power box off to the side. There’s more than 30 of these boxes in Summit. Several other towns I’ve seen have used these somewhat mundane-looking boxes and spiced them up a bit with some art. I think we should explore something similar here in Summit.

What do you think? 

September 17, 2018 council meeting summary (TAPinto Summit)

Vartan's Views - September 4, 2018

Below is a link to the TAPinto Summit Summary of the Council Meeting on 9/4/18.

Here are my three thoughts:

1) The Mayor proclaimed September is Summit Volunteer First Aid Squad month. Thank you to my fellow volunteers for their truly outstanding service to our city and thank you to the Mayor and Council for recognizing that service. The squad is funding completely by donation and staffed completely by volunteers. Please go to the website and learn more about donating or joining!

2) The Council approved a grant submission to the Summit Area Public Foundation to support the Hometown Heroes program. This was a huge success last year and a wonderful way to honor the women and men of Summit who served in our nation’s armed forces. I’m thrilled that the program will return for another year and hope we get the grant.

3) A memorandum of understanding between the City and the Parkline Foundation was approved. As I’ve said many times before, conceptually I believe the Parkline is a fantastic project. Since its inception, there have been questions about the funding, maintenance, privacy, and safety, that have yet to be addressed. This memorandum of understanding is a good thing for two main reasons. The first is that it mandates a public workshop where these issues will be discussed within 90 days. The second is that all future developments and decisions made about the Parkline will come before the Council. I believe this is the right way to make sure the public knows what is going on and what responsibilities belong to the city and the foundation respectively.

What do you think?

September 4, 2018 council meeting summary (TAPinto Summit)

Vartan's Views - June 19

Below is a link to the TAPinto Summit Summary of the Council Meeting on 6/19/18.

Here are my three thoughts:

1. Every time I’m in the same room with John Kilby, I learn something. He’s the President of the Shade Tree Advisory Committee and shared that Summit has lost 10-15% of the tree canopy since Superstorm Sandy. I recognize and support the idea that trees are incredibly important. Cost will continue to be a factor in determining whether we should plant more trees than the 80 we plant annually now, and I wouldn’t want Summit to commit to doing that without seeing the rest of the budget priorities, but I also agree with Councilwoman Fox that we should do more to enforce the laws related to trees already on the books when it comes to replacement and permits. 

2. The Fire Department has saved thousands of lives in Summit and continues to do incredibly fine work every single day out of a building that is extremely sub-par. I believe the new fire station is an investment the city needs to make. I am fully supportive of this project and looking forward to its next steps, especially as it will pave the way for continuing conversation about the Broad St. West re-development project. 

3. The next Council on the Road session will be held July 11th at the First Aid Squad. I’ll be there and you should too!

What do you think? 

June 19, 2018 council meeting summary (TAPinto Summit)

Vartan's Views - June 6, 2018

Below is a link to the TAPinto Summit Summary of the Council Meeting on 6/6/18.

Here are my three thoughts:

1) CONGRATULATIONS to our campaign intern, Aalia Smith for being selected by Mayor Radest as a finalist for the 2018 Louis Bay 2nd Municipal Leader Scholarship. Aalia was selected based on an essay about municipal government. I’m proud to have her as part of our team! 

2) I’m thrilled that the historical marker was approved for Fountain Baptist Church. The church existed before Summit. I continue to believe our diversity is one of our greatest strengths, and I would recommend diving in and learning more in Dr. Betty Adams’ book, Black Women’s Christian Activism. 

3) The Development Regulations Ordinance (DRO) is an INCREDIBLY important document outlining what is allowed in the Downtown Business District. The city is undergoing a year-long process to completely re-write this document. However, the ordinance introduced at the Council meeting will amend the current DRO to expand uses for the first floor to include more experiential things like tasting rooms and instructional studios. I am extremely supportive of this change. 

What do you think?

June 6, 2018 council meeting summary (TAPinto Summit)

Vartan's Views - May 15, 2018

My thoughts on the Council Meeting 5/15/18

1. I have always known Summit is special because the people give so much of their time and talent to make it a better place. A prime example of that commitment was the energetic and thorough presentation from the Historic Preservation Commission. As we review the DRO (design standards for downtown) and begin the process of redeveloping on Broad St, preserving the character of our wonderful city has never been more important!

2. Council voted to have hearings to spend a bunch of money (more than $5 million) but it's important to know the budget was already passed. These are just the resolutions to actually go ahead and appropriate the funds and there will be public hearings on each item at the next meeting in June.

3. At a Council meeting back in April some residents commented on the state of their street. That's one of the streets set to be resurfaced this year. That's the good news. The bad news is the price of resurfacing roads went up by 16% over last year. That's a direct result of increases in oil prices.

What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts!

May 15, 2018 council meeting summary (TAPinto Summit)

Vartan's Views - May 1, 2018

My thoughts on the Council Meeting 5/1/18

1. May is Drowning Prevention and Water Safety Month. One of my first jobs in Summit was teaching swim lessons, I was a lifeguard and taught the training class for more than 7 years. Water safety is no joke and lifeguards are not babysitters!

2. GREAT JOB to Council for canceling the RIDICULOUS "decorative paver" project on Beechwood Road! There are so many better ways to spend tax dollars.

3. Council is becoming more inclusive and proactive. The next Council on the Road listening session is June 13th at the First Aid Squad. I'll be there and you should too! I hope all current Council members attend.

What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts!

May 1, 2018 council meeting summary (TAPinto Summit)

Vartan's Views - April 16, 2018

Here's TAPinto Summit's summary of the Council meeting Tuesday 4/16/18 and my 3 thoughts:

1. Hats off for all members of the City staff and for Council on passing a municipal budget with 0% tax increase. It's a truly amazing achievement and we should all be grateful and proud.

2. There's no easy or simple way to address our parking problem. I think most can agree that a step in the right direction would be making it easier to find an open spot in front of the wonderful restaurant or store you'd like to patronize. I think the ordinance that was passed will make that more likely. I probably wouldn't have believed that changing the rate would actually work, but when we consider that this method was extremely successful with the Deforest lots, I think it's worth a try. More than once, Council has revisited issues and that is always an option if this solution doesn't work as intended.

3. Summit's downtown is graced with several pieces of art. I love some and have considerably different feelings about others. Regardless, when I walk or drive by I usually find myself talking about them. For Summit Public Art that means the mission was accomplished. I think we're lucky to have a group dedicated to expanding our minds through the power of art. Murals are on the way!

What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts!

April 16, 2018 council meeting summary (TAPinto Summit)


Vartan's Views - April 3, 2018

This article is a great summary of the Council meeting on 4/3/18. Here's my 3 thoughts:

1) Grateful as always for our extraordinary first responders and the wonderful community response to the apartment fire Dec 31, 2017. I'm honored to serve with the amazing people on the First Aid Squad!

2) I'm thrilled that two major initiatives are moving forward. Those two initiatives are the Free Market building at the transfer station and the online permit process. City staff balanced implementing and learning the new software at the same time!

3) I was surprised at the resistance to the idea of an economic development committee. It's clear to me that there's a difference in philosophy among current council-members about the role of government. I am extremely supportive of the idea of an economic development committee. We can be proactive or reactive. We can have more people involved in the process of governing or we can have less. For me it's a no-brainer. Our government should be proactive and we should tap into the incredible talent of the people of Summit.

What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts!

April 3, 2018 Council meeting summary (TAPinto Summit)