Monday, June 5, 2017

Reflections by David Gruman

Reflections by David Gruman.
 Ever since I signed up to run for office, people have been asking me: “why?” or “what do you need this for?” These are questions that are not easy to tackle with a few simple words. The easiest way for me to answer these questions is by taking a few steps back.
I grew up in a very different Lakewood than what we see today. I remember when the thinking in town was that young couples get married, learn in kolel and then move out of Lakewood-either for a shteller or for work. Back then, the community was small, and we all knew and cared for each other. As the town grew, the mindset changed and more and more families started settling in Lakewood.

What happened to Lakewood is amazing for frum families. While we can no longer brag that we know every family in Lakewood, we have so many options for yeshivos for our children, kosher restaurants, grocery and clothing stores, shuls, etc.  Although I miss the small-community feeling that Lakewood used to have, it is clear that the advantages are enough to overshadow the disadvantages.

As the community grew, there was a push to
rezone areas in town to make way for new families. It was acceptable for a developer to go in front of the planning board and get approvals to build 50 or so houses where there should only have been five or ten. Townhouses became the norm in R12 or R75 zones. Shuls and yeshivos were built without having to fulfil parking requirements.

Lakewood was soon to become the spot for families from all over the United States who were looking to settle in a frum, affordable environment. It was not always easy. I remember when we had a hard time getting shuls approved by the boards in Lakewood. The natives were not always sympathetic to the needs of our community. Our needs were new to them. Fortunately, there were people from within our kehilla that stepped up to the plate and helped deal with the transition.

I stood by the side and watched the town change. It was all fine and understandable. What bothered me was that as the town expanded, there was never much thought when it came to infrastructure. I remember the master plan of 1999, when townhouses became a permitted use in the HD7 zone along Route 9. The justification was that the state would dualize Route 9 and there would plenty of room for more housing. The housing came, but the infrastructure improvements never materialized. There were many such instances where justification was given for increased density but there was no performance on the infrastructure.

By the mid 2000’s, the town was starting to fill to capacity. As a bystander, I was waiting to see when it would stop. When would the announcement come from the township committee that would tell us that we can no longer rezone because the traffic was becoming unbearable? Needless to say, no such announcement was ever made. I am still waiting! At some point, it would make sense to say that there are too many cars on the road and we need to take a step back.

Over the past few years, I came to the realization that the people running this town have never changed their mentality. They are still stuck with the thought that we need more houses in Lakewood because we are a growing community. This is no longer the case-we are now a fully built-out town. People are moving to Jackson and Toms River at a rapid pace. It is time to slow the growth in Lakewood and allow the other towns to develop. In the interim, we could use the time to catch up with our infrastructure.

I would have been more than happy to continue being a bystander in this town while others guide and pace the growth properly. Unfortunately, I don’t see anything changing anytime soon. I feel that this is what happens when people are on the committee for too long. On the current administration, there is only one member that has served for less than two terms. The people who were on the committee for years have a hard time changing their mentality. They should allow new people to come aboard so that the views on the committee will match the sentiment on the street.

I have always believed that people who get involved are brave and well-intentioned. It is not easy to take a job that requires endless amounts of dedication to the public. I have the utmost respect for those who have served until now. Unfortunately, some have overstayed their welcome as they refuse to give in to the desires of the people.

It seems that little is being done to take care of the traffic issue. Over the past ten years, property taxes have tripled or quadrupled in many cases. The Board of Ed’s budget is spiraling out of control. Housing prices are at an all-time high. These are issues that are not being dealt with by the committee. The committee should be concerned with much more than the housing needs of our community-especially now that people have the option of moving to nearby towns. The entire mindset of the committee has to change.

I have always been a big believer in term limits. If Lakewood would have term limits, I would not even consider running. I would assume that new blood would come in and do things differently. It is easier to sit back and enjoy what this town has to offer, and let others bring change to how the town is run. For all of its flaws, Lakewood is a great place to live and raise a family.

Many people have asked me to run for office. It is a scary thing to take on new obligations while running a business and raising a family. I have thrown myself into this race knowing that when I win it will be a sacrifice to me and my family. My only hope is that I will be able to influence the current committee to wake up and smell the coffee. My goal will be to slow the growth in Lakewood until the traffic issue is dealt with properly. I would also use the opportunity to try to deal with the other issues that Lakewood is faced with, bearing in mind that helping people in general is the ultimate goal.

9 comments:

  1. Harold HerskowitzJune 5, 2017 at 7:32 AM

    Whatever he just said. Nothing to add
    Remember if you are an independent ask for the Democrat ballot and vote
    For
    David Gruman

    ReplyDelete
  2. Love this guy! You got my vote! Honest and straightforward

    ReplyDelete
  3. I know Dovid for a while now and he is a great guy , he is a baal chesed and a quiet askan. I think he will be a tremendous benefit for our town

    ReplyDelete
  4. Any way to vote for Dovid Grumman if I'm a registered Republican?

    ReplyDelete
  5. dovid is a straight and caring person he has his own successful business, not real estate related ,he will have zero conflict of interest as a committee man .If we are worthy he will win and bring a fresh non biased perspective to our great city.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I want to follow up from my previous comment I`m in Lakewood for over 20 yrs when we knew most people ,and I do know three of the committee men on first name basis ,they are all great and caring people ,but their businesses are too caught up in our town I believe they are honest but it certainly causes much speculation and friction among local citizens it`s in everyones best interest to have people totally unaffiliated with any kind of local business conections that can and does cause people to question their motives.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, to follow up on your follow up, I have lived in Lakewood for over 20 years, and also know some of the committeemen, as well as some of the board members.

      While the ones I know were nice and honest to begin with, unless people are financially independent, it is virtually impossible to be on the committee and boards and to remain committed to the community at large.

      The Matan Schara B'zido is great, very few would be able to withstand it, most would eventually end up justifying their actions to the extent that they believe they are doing the right thing, even when the disastrous results are obvious.

      They still believe they are the same people they were 20 years ago. It's sad really. The VAADS job is to fool the voters, their job is to fool themselves.

      Once the incumbents are out, it is important to change the method of governing from a Township Committee, to a high paying Mayor with a city council comprised of representitives broken up by geographic areas of town.

      The long term fix for corruption, is to have a mayor who is well compensated, so their first priority are the taxpayers who pay their salary. They would have more to lose by betraying the publics trust, then they would have to gain.

      Delete
    2. Harold HerskowitzJune 5, 2017 at 9:43 PM

      Unfortunately one well heeled developer can outdo any mayor salary with one suitcase. What we need is a mayor with a strong moral fiber. Hard to find, but I know one and he is already on the committee. I know for a fact that he has rejected hundreds of thousands of little green offers to help pay his bills.

      Delete