Should two towns become one?

Mount Roxburlington. Arlingbury. Roxmountburarlingony.

Perhaps the name’s a detail to be worked out a bit down the road. After a lot of other details.

Residents of Roxbury and Mount Arlington this week handed their municipal clerks signed petitions calling for a municipal consolidation study commission — a formal look at merging the two communities into one, an idea bandied about for decades in the western Morris County municipalities.

 

Physically, Mount Arlington sits north of the center of Roxbury, wedging into it its bigger neighbor. Mount Arlington is mostly surrounded by its neighboring community — like the blank space in a letter U. Roxbury has about 23,000 residents — more than four times as much as Mount Arlington.

 

Mount Arlington Borough and Roxbury Township each have their own municipal administration and their own school district. They’ve each got their own police force — and talks about consolidating those into one have failed twice in the last decade.

 

But the organizers of the petition say the communities should see if they’d be better off with one of each of those institutions. In an announcement this week, they say they have nearly 400 signatures from Roxbury residents and 111 from Mount Arlington residents who feel the same way.

 

If the petitions are certified, that should be enough under the Municipal Consolidation Act of 2007 to form a group of five residents from each town to study the pros and cons of a merger. The commission would also study whether a merger should go before voters in each community.

 

In other words, the commission would decide whether the town should pull a Princeton. Princeton Township and Princeton Borough formally combined into one municipality Jan. 1. Proponents had touted expected cost savings of about $1.6 million, not counting certain one-time costs. An updated analysis after the merger showed the figure at more like $3 million.

 

“This is another example of local citizens working under state law to promote change,” Gina Genovese, executive director of Courage to Connect New Jersey, said in an announcement released by petition organizers. “The group of petitioners in Mount Arlington and Roxbury are making history for their hometowns, calling for an analysis to see if the two towns are better together.”

At the heart of the effort in Roxbury is the local Taxpayer Education Association Member, which just failed in an effort to displace two incumbent school board members and their running mate with its own ticket. In Mount Arlington, according to organizers, former Councilman and current school board member Gene Paradiso led the effort.


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