Scotch Plains and Fanwood residents in favor of merging the two towns made history on February 15, becoming the first neighboring communities in the state to petition the Local Finance Board to commission a study on what consolidation would mean for the SPF tax payers.
Over the past year, this community has seen an escalation in discussions regarding shared services, including a possible police merger. Fanwood Mayor, Colleen Mahr, who has dedicated much of her time as Mayor to revitalizing downtown Fanwood, has remained adamant in her opposition to full consolidation. However, Scotch Plains Mayor, Nancy Malool of has openly voiced her support for pursuing a municipal consolidation study, under the Local Option Municipal Consolidation Act, passed in 2007. Courage to Re-connect is the local grassroots organization that created the petition to commission the consolidation to study. The organization was founded by Scotch Plains resident, Fred Lange. Courage to Re-connect receives support from Courage to Connect New Jersey, a non-profit, non-partisan organization committed to assisting municipalities to study consolidation where appropriate. Frustrated with rising taxes, Lange formed the organization in 2010. Backed by a firm belief that consolidation was the answer to rising costs, Lange mobilized members of his community to support a municipal study. In order to commission the study, Lange had to get 10 percent of voters in Scotch Plains and Fanwood who voted in the last general election to sign the petition. Lange exceeded that requirement, collecting over 1000 signatures. “Initially, I went door to door to have our petitions signed,” Lange said. “Ninety-two percent of the people in Fanwood and 98 percent of the people in Scotch Plains with whom I spoke supported what I was doing. This is really a citizen-driven initiative. We’re the ones who want to study a consolidation by an overwhelming majority.”