Alan Purcell said he takes great pride in representing the concerns of Wayne's 1st Ward residents.
The 12-year councilman is running for another four-year term on the council in this year’s election.
“People have to come first,” Purcell said. “I really enjoy it here in the First Ward. The people are so friendly and care about their community."
Flooding is a constant issue in the ward. Ryerson Avenue and the surrounding area experienced record flooding earlier this year due to Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. The ward is often the first to experience flooding and the last to dry out.
“I was amazed to see the extent of the damage that was caused this year,” Purcell said. “It was so hard to drive down the streets everyday and see people lose everything they had.”
The township is buying out homes in the ward, but Purcell insists that buyouts aren’t the answer to the area’s ongoing, and lately, escalating, flooding.
“If you buy the people out, are we going to cut back on municipal services,” Purcell asked. “We’re going to lose tax ratables here and someone has to share in that increase in taxes.”
The ward contains the Willowbrook Mall, former Wayne Towne Center, an industrial complex, several businesses in the Mountainview section of town, a train station and a light-rain station on Route 23, which Purcell said, can’t be bought out.
“You can’t buyout the only regional retail center in Wayne and the only railroad system in Wayne, “ Purcell said. “Let’s work on getting the problem solved, not moving people out or doing another study.”
Pressure must be kept on state and federal authorities to find a long-term solution to the problem, Purcell said. A tunnel from the township to Newark Bay is one solution that garnered support from state officials years ago, Purcell said, but the plan was abandoned when authorities said it would cost too much to construct.
Purcell said the town must do more to keep businesses in Wayne.
“I’m in favor of streamlining a process that allows businesses to make improvements to their businesses,” Purcell said. “We need businesses. They are an important part of our community and the people who live here depend on them.”
Purcell, a married father of two boys, has a great sense of civic pride that he makes no effort to hide. The friendly and often smiling man passionately speaks out at council meetings about issues concerning not just the First Ward, but the entire township.
“When it comes to something that affects the whole town, yes, I represent everybody,” Purcell said. “But when it comes to my ward, if I feel that we are being shortchanged in any way I will speak up for the residents who live here.”
Purcell was a home repairman for Sears for years. He owns a business, Just Garages, with his wife. He also was a volunteer with the Passaic County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Purcell also volunteers his time with Homes for our Troops, a non-profit organization of volunteers who construct specially-adapted homes for severely-injured members of the military. Purcell donates and installs garage doors and garage door openers in the homes.
“These people have given so much for our country, the least we can do for them is to make sure they have a comfortable home,” Purcell said.