Letter to the Editor: Hopewell Township needs to adapt to thrive

To the Editor:

At its May 14 meeting, the Hopewell Township Committee held a work session to talk about the possibility of permitting alcohol in township parks during a small number of community-wide events. The discussion at the meeting was preliminary so that the committee could examine, in the public space, if it were to grant such event permits, how it would do so in a way that would safeguard our community while allowing our neighbors and visitors to have a beer or some wine while enjoying our outdoor spaces together. The committee opted to gather more information, so no decisions were made.

As a Hopewell Township resident, I see the community events and festivals that could be permitted as part of this as outstanding opportunities to advertise all that we enjoy here in Hopewell Township. We have so much that’s great about our community, and we need the contributions – in attracting both talented residents and businesses – that such positive publicity can bring.

We have that scenic setting here in Hopewell Township because we as a community are dedicated to protecting our environment, and that should never change. Our combination of suburban and rural, our schools, our location and more are all great reasons to love our home.

But, we’re not alone in having that outstanding combination, and while we stand with our fellow townships, boroughs and cities on most issues, we are also in competition with them. Jobs and businesses that don’t come here go somewhere else, and with them goes the chance to employ our own nearer to their families and keep our resident tax burden low. There’s no good reason to lose those benefits, and we don’t have to keep losing them, unless we as a community are unwilling to adapt.

Change is not something to be shouted down. Being static in a dynamic world is not a point of pride. Cries of traffic, taxes, the environment, property values and schools aren’t to be dismissed, but they also aren’t reasons to stop doing what we need to do to keep Hopewell Township relevant, and our relevance as a community is indeed at stake. If you need an example, look at the impending departure of Bristol Myers Squibb and the 6% of our tax base at that location, unless we find a company to take it over. BMS didn’t go out of business, they just decided Hopewell Township wasn’t where they wanted to be going forward.

Though the answers depend on the issues, I know we can meet those concerns because I’ve seen the dedication of both our Township Committee and the residents who continue to make their voices heard.

Our proposed community center is an investment we need to make to keep us relevant, and I look forward to every set of eyes who sees it or reads a news story about it knowing that Hopewell Township is a community that comes together to serve its neighbors and make itself a better place to live.

Our affordable housing commitment is an opportunity for us as a community to step up, and when I hear some of our neighbors continue to advocate for the building of 100 percent affordable housing rather than in combination with market-rate, I wonder if those residents have forgotten what community means.

Communities that are ready for tomorrow know that your value as a human being is not determined by the size of your paycheck. They know that where you start in life has no bearing on what contribution you can make, and it stands side-by-side with everyone who wants to make Hopewell Township a better place, whether you are called “doctor” or “your honor,” “mom” or “dad.”

They know that great schools don’t just happen. They are great because parents are involved, and because residents are generous, whether or not they have kids. We all want Hopewell Valley schools to produce top employees, job creators and innovators who will remember that they got their start here and that their community cared about them, perpetuating a virtuous cycle that will continue to keep our community and our country strong for generations to come.

Neighbors, keep your voices heard. Keep your leaders accountable. Keep being involved. But keep in mind that thriving communities like Hopewell Township aren’t thriving because they stay the way they are. Our community is and will be great because when the need for change comes, as it has now, our residents won’t ask how we can keep it from happening, we will ask what we can do to make sure that when talented residents and job-creating businesses are looking for a place to set down roots and contribute, they see that the “turning point of the revolution” is ready for its own turning point in the evolution of what a prosperous community looks like today and in the decades to come.

Andrew Borders, Hopewell Township

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