Barbara Dixel feels the estimated 55,000 citizens of Howell are being ignored by the leaders they elected.
Dixel cites one major example - the Global Building property that the township wants to purchase to serve as its new municipal center.
She and a group of long-time Howell residents have created a petition to give citizens a chance to decide whether they want a new building or not.
They hope to present it to the council on Tuesday in an effort to dissuade them from moving town hall to the Route 9 facility.
“Our [Howell's] city hall has been around for over 100 years,” says Dixel, a 17-year Howell resident. “Instead of buying a building that will apparently cost $6 million (not including repairs), why not preserve a historical landmark for around the same price, if not less, once you factor in the cost of repairs?”
The petition calls for a non-binding referendum of the residents of Howell with the question asking "Shall the Global Building be purchased for use as the Howell Township Municipal Building." The deadline is Sept. 2.
In two days, Dixel's citizen group has received nearly 300 signatures in favor of keeping the old building - a plan that will be presented during tonight's town meeting.
While he understood that residents do not support the purchase of the Global building, Deputy Mayor William Gotto has said, at this point, the council cannot simply leave things status quo.
Dixel agrees that the current city hall does need serious renovations, but that it would make more sense to repair the building that is the main part of Howell's true town square.
“We spent our wedding anniversary this year arguing for the township not to go through with this resolution,” Dixel says. “We were told there was no resolution and by the end of the meeting there was. We're not in it for glory or anything like that. We just love Howell and would like to keep our building preserved, rather than move it towards corporate ownership on Rt. 9 North.”
Dixel states that what puzzles her most is not how this issue came about, but why the township wants to acquire the Global Building so badly.
“The township never gave us a good reason,” Dixel says. “We've even had a traffic agent explain to them that there are times in the day where the building is practically inaccessible for Howell residents! How can you have a town hall that limits access to the town's citizens? It's hard to comprehend.”
There will be representatives of the citizen group taking signatures Tues. 3-5 p.m. at The Grange, prior to the town meeting.
Did you sign the petition? If so why? If not, why not? And if no action is not an option then what would you suggest be done?