League of Women Voters of Teaneck
Voters’ Guide Questionnaire for Town Council Election 2018

Please complete and return this questionnaire to Barbara Ostroth, 308 Vandelinda Ave, Teaneck, NJ, 07666 no later than Sunday, April 8th (or by email).  NOTE: After filling out the biographical information (please be brief and simply list your areas of community involvement), your response to all three questions must together total no more than 500 words.  We will print your responses as submitted, unedited, but cut the end should you exceed the 500 word limit.

SUGGESTION:  If you would benefit from receiving this questionnaire as a “Word” document in which you can write your answers and return as an attachment via e-mail, please send your request to Barbara Ostroth — tneckmom308@aol.comas soon as possible.

Name and address:     Keith S Kaplan; 670 Ramapo Road, Teaneck NJ 07666
Years residing in Teaneck: 11
Occupation:     Law Clerk
Education:       BA Rutgers University (2001)
Family:             Wife (Stacy), 3 daughters (ages newborn – 8)

Record of Community Involvement (bullet points only):

  • Teaneck Planning Board (Vice-Chairman*)
  • Parks, Planning and Recreation Advisory Board (Member*)
  • Teaneck Swim Club (Trustee*)
  • Teaneck Environmental Commission (Commissioner)
  • Congregation Shaare Tefillah of Teaneck (Director / Member of Building Committee)
  • Morganville First Aid and Rescue Squad (EMT)

(*) indicates a currently held position


  1. Are you satisfied or not satisfied with the oversight of Teaneck’s recent development and construction projects?  What steps will you take to ensure that current and future projects do not include development of any environmentally sensitive areas?

The inquiry regarding oversight must begin with two basic and fundamental questions:
What are we looking for?
Do the procedures we have in place ensure we can find what we need to see?

Oversight methods must always be reviewed and tweaked as necessary to ensure they answer those questions appropriately.

As a member of the planning board, we regularly receive comments from various departments (e.g. Police, Fire, Health, etc…) regarding issues they believe to be of concern about applications for development.

We should periodically review what these agencies are looking for with an eye towards updating criteria we review.

To further ensure environmentally sensitive areas are protected, I would do four things immediately:

  • Update and maintain a complete list of such areas
  • Ensure contracts specify the roles of parties in ensuring clear title
  • Enlist departments heads to get recommendations of areas where our oversight can be expanded or fixed
  • Systematically review our policies to ensure they have the desired effect

Do our rules serve the role for which they were designed?  Like any large organization, the Township’s oversight regime is a chimera of sorts, created over decades. In many situations, the design works and review by various agencies and boards is thorough and satisfactory. But there are some applications we can learn from.  Recently, you may have read about an application involving the greenway by Rt. 4 near our Englewood border.  While some would use this application as an opportunity to cast blame, I see it as a learning opportunity to ensure that expectations are managed when the Township handles contracts for land uses.

  1. What are your top two quality of life recommendations (such as recreation, senior citizen services, maintenance of infrastructure, health and human services, youth programs, etc.) that the council should prioritize, and what steps should the council take to address them?

Senior Services / Recreation

As a member of our Parks, Planning and Recreation Advisory Board, I’ve had the honor of working with the recreation department and council on ideas to maintain and enhance many of the programs used by seniors, children and residents of all ages.

It’s my firm belief that these are the kinds of programs that serve to unite us as a community and reflect the values we all hold dear.  You can expect to see more of this work and a serious commitment to the recommendations of the PPRAB in the future.

Google has been offering shared calendar services and planning to the public for over a decade.  And yet our senior and rec systems are falling behind.  I would recommend that we harness technology in all areas of the Township to enable license renewal, payments of fees and fines, reservations of fields and to provide basic information to residents.  Some other solutions are technology based.  Summit, NJ has contracted with Uber to offer discounted rides, freeing up hundreds of parking spaces.   This is not merely practical.  The benefit to senior services and recreation would be tremendous.  The current system involves an inordinate amount of time and employees would be able to focus on more important functions.

Infrastructure Improvements / Capital Spending

One doesn’t need to get a flat tire in a pothole to appreciate the necessity of a road re-pavement program.  But this is part of a larger issue of budgetary priorities. We need a capital plan that takes into account known and unknown expenses. Whether it’s a new fire truck or DPW vehicles for an unexpected snowfall, we must make the long term commitment to ensuring the safety and well-being of our residents.

I would suggest we start with data visualization, where council and residents can see, year-by-year, which roads have been re-paved and form a list that is constantly reviewed to provide information on which roads are up next.  We should then expand the this concept to all areas of budgeting and communication.  We need to manage and meet expectations of our residents.

To that end, we need better systems in place, for residents and the Township to communicate to each other.

Our budget showcases our priorities.  I intend to make sure the council has the ability AND listens to residents — so that you have more input and more of a voice into the process.

  1. What steps would you take to increase the number of open workshop meetings, so that the public can witness council dialogue on public meeting agenda items, review of department procedures and plans, budgetary discussion, etc.?

The law mandates that EVERY act of council takes place in public. This is my guiding philosophy to public service. We need more opportunities for the public to speak and to hear from the council. The flip-side is that the dialogue should be crafted in a manner that is beneficial to the goal-oriented tasks of the council. Whether it’s listening sessions or workshops, I’m in favor of more communication. But I am not merely in favor of creating a new council-meeting for the opportunity to say I have done so. I want to create an actual dialogue that goes to the core of what we believe and the vision of where we should go as a Township in the future.

I hope you’ll join me in that conversation.

The official responses and information about the forum can be found here.