Township Committee candidates participate in Candidates’ Night forum

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Cranbury voters heard directly from the Democratic and Republican candidates vying for one seat on the Township Committee in the general election Nov. 7.

Incumbent Democrat Matt Scott and Republican candidate Joe Buonavolonta participated in a Candidates’ Night forum hosted by the Woman’s Club of Cranbury in partnership with the Cranbury Public Library on Oct. 10 through Zoom.

They fielded voter questions from moderator Loida Wilson.

One of the first questions asked by voters asked the candidates what they would do to promote the building of Liberty Way Bridge.

“The Liberty Way bridge for those who do not know is a proposed link, elevated roadway behind the warehouses to help alleviate the truck traffic burden on Route 130,” Scott said. “In order for that to be complete we really need cooperation with South Brunswick and Monroe and possibly … talking with Amazon and Home Depot.”

He acknowledged the conversation on the proposed link had waned and noted it was not part of the Southern Middlesex County Freight Study recommendations.

“Right now, the township is not actively pursuing it,” Scott said. “If the township did it by itself, it would bankrupt the town. It is something that could be brought up again, but it is going to be a heavy lift and require beyond the Township Committee working with other municipalities, county and state to find the funds for that.”

Buonavolonta said the building of the Liberty Way Bridge needs to be done.

“Somehow, some way,” he said. “We need to start calling the other towns put them on board with everything. We actually have to start ticketing these trucks that come down the road. Don’t just back them up.”

Buonavolonta added that by giving the trucks and haulers tickets, they will start realizing they can’t go down the road.

“If we hit them in their pocket, it might work,” he said. “We have to call Monroe and say guys we have to get on board with this and it is about time. I would work with the other towns and try to get it done. That is the best I can tell you until I really get to dig into it.”

The candidates then fielded a question about whether they had an intention of adding recreational cannabis licenses in Cranbury. The township opted-out of all six recreational cannabis licenses in 2021 and can opt-in at any time.

“No. I do not have any intention,” Buonavolonta said. “That is my answer a flat-out no. No discussion needed.”

Scott said he is slightly ambivalent about it but has heard concerned residents.

“I am not immune to their requests. I would not,” he said. “We have enough towns adjacent to us for a recreational license.”

Each candidate was also asked from a voter about whether they would or would not support the township offering municipal trash pickup.

“I think it is a fantastic idea. I bemoan the fact that we privatized so many municipal services,” Scott said.

He noted that it would be worth bringing up next year.

“On one hand [privatizing] helps us with our tax burden,” Scott said, explaining that municipal pickup does not mean having a garbage truck with the Department of Public Works on the side. “It just means the town picks a universal provider and residents would not have to pay to companies individually. It would be rolled into your tax bill.”

Buonavolonta responded, “It is definitely worth looking into, but there is a lot of cost that comes with it. You have to buy barrels, you have to buy trucks, maintain trucks, backup fleet. This whole town can be picked probably in two days. One half and the other half, so it could be done by one garbage truck, which would not be bad.”

He added that the option to have people pay for their own garbage pickup is good, because “it keeps the taxes down and the township doesn’t have to worry about maintenance or pickups.”

Buonavolonta suggested garbage pickup per district.

“Where you all can come together with one company and say listen, we have 1,000 homes what kind of deal are you going to give us. There is power in numbers,” he said. “I would explore the option of Cranbury doing it. It would cost money, but is worth looking into.”