Town Council Candidates Question 1: Discovering Verona

By on April 18, 2021


To help readers get a sense of each of the five candidates running for Town Council this May 11, MyVeronaNJ.com asked each of them 10 questions. The first five were the same for each candidate, while the second were about that candidate’s positions.

We published each interview on a page specifically for that candidate: Cynthia HollandJason HyndmanJack McEvoyMichael Nochimson and Christopher Tamburro. But we thought it might also help readers to gather the answers to each of the common questions in a separate post. You can read all the answers together, or zero in on one answer by clicking on a candidate’s name in the list below, which is ordered by their position on the ballot.

The first question is: During the pandemic, we’ve all spent much more time in Verona. What have you discovered about our town?

Cynthia Holland
Jason Hyndman
Christopher Tamburro
Jack McEvoy
Michael Nochimson

Walking through the neighborhoods is a tremendous asset

Cynthia Holland: During the pandemic, I think the thing that I have noticed the most is really that all the reasons why we moved to the Forest Avenue section in the first place still hold true. The reason why we chose to live here was because it was extremely walkable, Verona Park, the downtown district, and really just those two elements were incredibly appealing to my husband and I. And so, walking became a huge part of our routine in the pandemic. We already had one dog. And we even went so far as to adopt a second dog, because everybody needs a friend in the pandemic. My husband and I are frequently walking around the neighborhood and really enjoying that aspect of it. Just going up and down the street seeing our neighbors and our front yards and walking through the neighborhoods, that’s, that’s a tremendous asset that I think we have here. We do have a downtown area that can serve as the heart of our community, we have the beautiful Verona Park, and we can really just walk and bike and anything. Read more Cynthia Holland answers here.

How difficult walkability is in some places

Jason Hyndman: Well, one thing I discovered–or rediscovered–is the walkability of the town and how pleasant it is, in some places, but how difficult it is in other places. I’m a road runner so I’m used to going out and seeing the town, and, you know, really appreciating the beauty, the charm of its architecture, but being frustrated with some of the barriers that are there. I think that is becoming more evident to more people as they start walking around, getting their vitamin D breaks, get some sun, getting some fresh air. You see it in certain areas where sidewalks are there and then they disappear. You see it in some of the intersections that can be very dangerous. So that is something that I think I’ve rediscovered and I think a lot of people in town discovered, and it’s something that should be addressed and can be addressed in this Master Plan. We can do a comprehensive review of our traffic, our circulation, and what pedestrian infrastructure we’re providing. It doesn’t have to be just bandaid fixing: Hey, here’s a problem spot here. I think we can really dive into the entire circulation patterns of the town, and figure out how we can address this troubling issue to make the town more accessible and enjoyable for everyone. You see that charm walking, when you’re running, when you’re biking, and you miss it when you’re driving through. Read more Jason Hyndman answers here.

No matter what was happening, people were still working together

Christopher Tamburro: During the pandemic. I was in a position where I had to be out no matter what as a Rescue Squad member, and that put me in a different position. So while I was teaching from home, I was out on the front line with the pandemic. And I learned that there’s nothing that can break Verona’s spirit. That was the most important lesson that I learned: That no matter what was happening, people were still working together. People were resilient, people were stepping up and supporting our restaurants and their neighbors. A lot of people were checking in, especially on their elderly neighbors. There was a lot of pride and support for our emergency services, people were banging pots and being out to support us and I think that was all great. One of the little projects that I did during the pandemic was I took it upon myself to walk my dog on every street in Verona. Every last one, and it became multiple times because the pandemic lasted a little longer than I think any of us wanted it to. So, while walking the dog in those neighborhoods, and really seeing places of Verona that I didn’t visit that much, and of course when you’re walking you see everything more, I saw a lot of people supporting one another. I saw people following the rules, and trying to make sure that the pandemic did not last as long as it could have. People were clearly listening and social distancing and, but also doing whatever they could to to help one another. I got to talk to a lot of people because more people were actually outside and really got to learn a lot about what people were even doing in their own neighborhoods. I was also walking Bloomfield Avenue, which was really interesting when there was no cars on it. It was a little unsettling, actually, to not have any traffic. But really taking stock of the businesses and the stores that we have in town, and taking note of empty spaces, and the offices also really gave me some information on what we need to build up our economic prosperity in town, and what we can do to develop in a reasonable way. After watching how people supported our restaurants with Facebook groups, and really going out and making curbside pickup and delivery work, I think we have a really welcoming community for business as well. I also learned where every sidewalk crack was in town, often by accident. I learned a lot about what we need to be doing as far as consistent maintenance of our roads and sidewalks in order to make Verona a very walkable place. Read more Christopher Tamburro answers here.

How close this town is and how generous the people in this town are

Jack McEvoy: Top of the list of what I’ve discovered is how close this town is and how generous the people in this town are. A good example would be that many of our businesses during the pandemic, ones that were even struggling, stepped up and provided meals for Mountainside Hospital and they reached out to help other businesses, even though they were struggling themselves. Groups of residents stepped up, made food themselves and distributed it to Mountainside Hospital. It is a very, very generous township that we live in. People just reach out and are always willing to go the extra mile and help the neighbors out. The other big one I saw towards the end of the pandemic: One store owner, I won’t even mention them because they were a little hesitant to receive some funds, but a business owner had a kitchen burn down in their house. And, obviously, they couldn’t focus time on their business. I think they shut down for a little bit, but a GoFundMe raised a good bit of money for them and it was donated through the Chamber of Commerce. It’s was a significant amount of money, almost close to $10,000. It’s one of many examples of fundraising through the pandemic that people stepped up and were generous about. Read more Jack McEvoy answers here.

The willingness of the community to come together to welcome and thank our rescue services

Michael Nochimson: What I discovered about our town, which I think was more emphasized during this pandemic, was the willingness of the community to come together to welcome and thank our rescue services, our police or fire, and our ambulance and Rescue Squad. I thought that was very important. I think it was overlooked at times but we have a wonderful Rescue Squad, our Police Department’s phenomenal and our volunteer Fire Department is amazing, and we often sometimes overlook these things until we actually need them. But I thought the community came together extremely well to honor them to respect them, to have signs out to thank them and to donate to them. I also thought the community did a nice job. We could always do better at supporting the restaurants. I don’t think we lost any restaurants through this pandemic. Restaurants had to make a shift from sit down and some carry out to really full carry out, and I think the town really stepped up, the residents stepped up to support them, both financially and be there to order from them, and allow that transition to happen. And we’re looking forward to this reopening. I know Kim and I have been out to many restaurants over the last five or six months, physically in the restaurants. I think that’s important. We do have a great number of options in town, and a few more to come in the future with a better downtown. Read more Michael Nochimson answers here.

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