MADISON — Madison Democratic candidates for Madison Borough Council, former Councilman Bob Landrigan of Green Village Road and Councilman John Hoover of Overhill Drive, express support for the careful reopening of businesses and for the measures that the town and community have taken to help those impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The candidates stated: “The health of our residents and those who work in town and the long-term health of our commercial sector requires a responsible reopening. We all want to get back to ‘normal’ with businesses thriving and people back to work, but the last thing we want to see is a re-imposition of restrictions as we are seeing in states like Arizona, Texas, and Florida – states that reopened too quickly and are now seeing record rates of new infections and fatalities. It’s great to see Madison cautiously and steadily reopening after weeks of ‘sheltering in place’.”
“The Madison Community Pool is now open, retail stores can open for indoor shopping, and the Madison Public Library provides for curbside pickup and limited indoor browsing,” Bob Landrigan observed. “Residents can also visit salons and barbershops; the Farmers’ Market is open every Thursday at Dodge Field; and the METC summertime concerts have begun. “And thanks to the efforts of Borough Director of Business Development Lisa Ellis and the Council’s resolution of June 8, residents can now enjoy outdoor dining at Madison’s great restaurants. The June 8 resolution provides for temporary changes to the borough’s enabling 2015 Sidewalk Dining Licenses ordinance – an ordinance I voted for when I was last on Council.
We had all hoped that indoor dining would shortly follow outdoor dining, as the governor had originally planned. Outdoor dining helps our restaurants and is certainly more enjoyable for patrons than take-out, but our restaurants still look forward to serving diners indoors. Unfortunately, the national resurgence of the virus and too many incidents of crowding and partying in homes, bars and restaurants within the state – the most egregious being a late July ‘mansion party’ in Jackson Township where an estimated 700 people had gathered without any regard for social distancing or mask-wearing – forced Governor Murphy to scrap any indoor dining plans for the immediate future.”
New Jersey is Now at Risk for a Covid-19 Outbreak
As of August 18, the virus infection rate, which had been as low as 0.65 in early May is now just under 1.0 in the state. This means that every existing case transmission will result in approximately one additional new case. Consequently, New Jersey, which had been identified by the group COVID ActNow as being on track to contain the contagion back in mid-June is now described as being “at risk of an outbreak.” Morris County is doing better than the state as a whole. With an infection rate at .88, the group stated that Covid-19 is “spreading in a slow and controlled fashion” in the county.
John Hoover continued “That’s good, but not good enough, and so Bob and I both ask that everyone in Madison please continue to adhere to social distancing guidelines and wear a mask whenever you cannot socially distance, particularly when you are indoors. If everyone does their part, we can yet contain the contagion and again enjoy dining indoors at Madison restaurants.
When I ran for Borough Council in 2017, the revitalization of our downtown business district was a priority for me. And it happened. Madison’s downtown was bustling coming into 2020. Vacancies were almost nonexistent. And then Covid-19 arrived here in March and everything came to a screeching halt.
But the mayor and council quickly responded. We enacted a series of measures, referred to as the Covid-19 Crises Response Toolkit which included: extending the borough’s targeted $200 electric rebate to those residents who were recently furloughed or had their jobs terminated due to the contagion; implementing a $400 electric rebate for businesses designated as non-essential and had to close, and those that have seen a major downturn in their revenues due to the lockdown; and suspending any utility disconnects and interest payments for non-payment.”
“The broader community responded as well, just as it did following Superstorm Sandy,” continued Bob Landrigan “The Madison, NJ Small Business Recovery Grant Program was created by the Madison Main Street Foundation and the DDC the support of the Madison Area Chamber of Commerce to mitigate the severe economic damage caused by the global Covid-19 pandemic to our local business community. The goal was to raise a minimum of $200,000.00. By mid-July, they were on track to raise $190,000 and 54 Madison businesses have received grants ranging between $2,500 and $4,000.
In addition, the volunteer Front Line Appreciation Group (FLAG) purchased meals from local restaurants to feed health care workers during the height of the crises. Between March 19 and June 24, the group delivered 31,670 meals to local front-line workers. Hundreds of Sewing Angel volunteers produced and delivered 35,000 masks and 7,500 scrub caps to more than 150 medical facilities, nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, shelters, and other nonprofit organizations. Weekend Meals for Students has raised more than $75,000 for grocery store gift cards to go to vulnerable families. And these are just a few examples of how the Madison community has pulled together to get us all through this crisis.”
The candidate concluded, “We look forward to the day when we can again see a fully vibrant downtown. Hopefully, this will come sooner rather than later, but it will only happen if we are fully vigilant; we all continue to social distance and wear our masks; and the virus is fully contained. Continued strong leadership and our wonderful community coming together will give us the support we need until we see that day.”