Cranbury Township Committee candidates speak to voters during candidates night

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Scott Jacobs
The Village of Cranbury is represented in town on June 12.

Four Cranbury Township Committee candidate’s differentiated themselves on Oct. 17 while they bid to secure two open seats on the committee in the general election on Nov. 5.

Democrats Eman El-Badawi and Barbara Rogers will try to earn seats against Republicans Evelyn Spann and Walter Wright in the election.

During Candidates Night, inside the Cranbury School Large Room, El-Badawi, Rogers and Spann debated on several topics that included the town’s challenges and how they would address them, their experience and the town’s growth.

Wright was unable to attend and participate in the evening event due to the passing of his daughter Maire Claire.

Sponsored by the Woman’s Club of Cranbury, candidates were asked what they see as the greatest challenge facing the township.

“The greatest challenge to Cranbury is smart growth,” Rogers said. “We need a long term solution to three of our constant issues that seem to come up at the township committee – which is traffic, the send and receive agreement we have with Princeton High School and development pressures from affordable housing and warehousing. Some of these issues are more pressing than others. I think careful planning will mitigate some of the issues coming in the future.”

El-Badawi reacted to the question and relayed it to communication.

“If people do not hear information how can they to react to it and if they hear only parts of the information how can they react to it appropriately,” El-Badawi said. “Dissemination of information allows us as township residents to act appropriately and is key. Making our spaces in the township committee meetings more inviting is also something we need to consider.”

Spann felt that the biggest issue facing Cranbury was infrastructure and traffic.

“It is impacting our neighbors, it is impacting us and is impacting other towns,” Spann said. “We do have some ways of alleviating the traffic issue, but they are financially out of our reach. It will take some time. This might be something that we cannot be insular on and we are going to have to go outside of ourselves. We are going to have to reach out the the county, the state, and look for grants.”

Another topic discussed in the debate, centered around growth in town and how the candidates would deal with the issue, specifically in the area east of Route 130 and the Cranbury Station neighborhood.

“That area has been an element of concern for many years,” El-Badawi said. “The long and the short of it is this, we have a responsibility to the residents in our town and around it. We are to improve and preserve their quality of life, which has caused conflict with a neighboring town. The answers to the problem are not easy or immediate. Where we can enhance that is through communication. Our dialogue has to be consistent, responsible and transparent. We cannot talk about the issue as just a Cranbury issue; we have to collectively and collaboratively come up with a decision together.”

Rogers felt that traffic and zoning was an issue regarding growth in the area of the Cranbury Station neighborhood.

“People are worried that a large warehouse will be built right next to them. This area could potential be looked as historical preservation area,” she said. “There are limited options for the township committee for what it can do when it comes to spot zoning and changing a piece of property zone designation because it is illegal. There has been some fear mongering about 2,000 houses or more being built in that area and it just is not zoned for that. I am willing to work to help solve these.”

Spann felt that the township’s Master Plan could be used to help this issue.

“At the Master Plan Subcommittee meeting we review 25 points of the master plan and 19 have already been completed,” Spann said. “The Master Plan is thoughtful and hard work and we should abide by it. There is a reason we have this Master Plan and when you deviate from the plan you have unintended consequences. I like the plan and I would stick to it.”

When a voter in the audience asked about improving Cranbury’s downtown area on Main Street, all candidates seemed to agree about issues regarding the town’s local businesses.

El-Badawi felt that certain businesses could be added to the town. She even said that she would like to see a bakery or café.

“The Main Street that was present when I arrived is different from the Main Street of today. The businesses have changed but the flavor is generally the same,” she said. “We have to make a piece of property very attractive for someone to come. Is it that we have to figure out rents so that they are affordable, figure out parking spaces so they are available or really push our advertising – all of it must be explored.”

Rogers felt that the town needs to preserve it’s best assets – the downtown, the farmland preservation and its walkability.

“One of the issues and limitations is parking,” Rogers said. “The township is considering to loosen up those regulations. One of the ideas is buying local. We have great farms and an annual campaign would be great to promoting downtown. Let us put a flyer together, as well. We need a long term vision to promoting our assets.”

Like her other opponents, Spann felt that the downtown businesses are struggling and everyone needs to give them more support.

“The business association is coming up with ideas to try and bring more business into town,” she said. “I think it is just all of us continuing to support the downtown.”

For residents voting in person they can do so at town hall on Nov. 5, which is located at 23 N Main St. According to officials, District 1 votes in the boy scout room, District 2 and 3 vote in the senior center. For more information on the sample ballot, polling places or vote by mail, visit www.cranburytownship.org.