To the Editor:

Part of what keeps the Hopewell Township Committee meetings interesting is that we never know what longtime committee member John Hart is going to say next.

At the March 11 budget meeting, Mr. Hart found the “Safe Routes to School Program” worthy of his ire. Who knew making sure our community’s children get to and from school in one piece and with a little fresh air is ire-worthy? But, it was for Mr. Hart, who said the “safe walking thing is ridiculous.”

You can see Mr. Hart’s comments for yourself at bit.ly/saferouteshopewell. The discussion begins at 1:32:40 and continues for less than five minutes.

What irked him was the idea of Public Works employees – a department whose title literally says work for the public – taking the time to make the safe routes paths for kids to get to Hopewell Valley Central High School (HVCHS) and Timberlane.

Committee member Kevin Kuchinski started to say that it was our residents whose kids … But, an exasperated Mr. Hart cut him off to supply a truly inspiring quote on public service:

“It’s always ‘our residents, our kids,’ they don’t think about the price.”

When you are on the Hopewell Township Committee, is it not always our residents and our kids who are the priority?

And who doesn’t think about the price? The HTC has had four public budget meetings, and Mr. Hart has been announced as “not here” for two of them. That’s where the township departments’ budgets are scrutinized line by line, balancing our needs with our dollars.

Then, Mr. Hart asked this:

“How many kids are getting hit by a car?”

Mr. Kuchinski and Deputy Mayor Michael Ruger, sanely, informed Mr. Hart that zero is the only acceptable answer.

When told at the March 25 committee meeting that busing costs parents, outside of certain circumstances, $500 a year if they live within a two-mile walk of the school, Mr. Hart offered no substantive response.

Many families, like mine, must be dual-income to realize living in this community, so the idea of surrendering $500 and time with our kids instead of seeing them off to school doesn’t make much sense, at least for those whose work schedules are fortunate enough to allow taking our kids to and from school. Add to that our cold days during the school year, and it should be no wonder that it’s busy in front of schools at drop-off and pick-up.

It’s apparent though, that Mr. Hart doesn’t understand that or simply doesn’t care. Doesn’t our community – including our kids – deserve a better advocate than someone who says to “tell the kid to get his butt on the bus or to walk?”

Andrew Borders

Hopewell Township

Mr. Borders is a member of the Hopewell Township Zoning Board but writes on his own behalf.

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