Saturday, October 15, 2011

Who is Nick Gialias and why is he running for New Hope Borough Council?

Nick Gialias (Photo: Charlie Sahner)

By Charlie Sahner

Nick Gialias is a candidate for New Borough Council in the election scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 8. This year's polling site has been moved from the Eagle Fire Company building to the New Hope Borough Community Room adjacent to Borough Hall. Gialas will be vying with three other contenders for three open seats on New Hope's top governing body.

A resident of Riverwoods with a wife and young daughter, Gialias, 33, sees himself as a family man and businessman, but his background in biomedical engineering seems to underly the precision of his speech and the directness of his opinions. He owns the Logan Inn, a family business where his father is the chef and other relatives are frequently helping out with the perpetual urgencies that accompany any sprawling inn-restaurant-bar. Gialias is running on the Republican ticket in a town where party affiliations are of dubious concern. He is also known as a primary organizer of the New Hope/Lambertville Friday Night Fireworks.

So, why is Gialias trying to become a member of Borough Council?

"I'm really concerned about the prosperity of New Hope," he said. "I want to help bring it back to the flourishing community we have come to love. We need to bring back some of the institutions that defined New Hope -- the mule barges, Odette's, and the Playhouse, Zadar space and Delaware waterfront in general. There's very little access for residents and guests to view and enjoy the river," added Gialias.

The troubled Bucks County Playhouse is indeed on many residents' minds these days, and the symbolism of its financial plight is not lost on Gialas. "The Playhouse is more than a business issue.They don't appreciate how much the Playhouse means to the residents of New Hope. The bank doesn't care. For the bank, it's just a dollar asset. For us, it's more than that; it's part of our history, culture and identity here."

Gialias' solution to the Bucks County Playhouse fiasco: "We need to go to [Reps.] Bernie O'Neill, Chuck McIlhinney and Mike Fitzpatrick and get them into the process, and see what kind of support we could receive at the county or state level, be it legislative, financial, or public."

Gialas believes the beleaguered Bucks County Playhouse also reflects negatively on New Hope's reputation as a haven for the arts. "We need to encourage the arts, encourage painters and performers on the streets, not require permits. If we're going to say we're an arts community, we've got to bring the Playhouse back -- we've got to put our money where our mouth is."

Likewise, Gialias views reviving the currently dry section of the Delaware Canal running through New Hope as vitally important to the borough's prosperity. "Reviving the canal is about wildlife, tourism, beauty and history. I'd rather people try and fail -- at least you can bring attention to the problem, and you might get lucky and raise enough money to fix it up. You also show people your mind is in the right place," he said.

In terms of the high rate of store closings in New Hope, due in part to the uncertain national economy, Gialias said, "The way you get good shops here is by creating a good environment for them to prosper. Right now, restaurants are providing an important service to the community, which also helps all the shops in the vicinity.

"The businesses are really providing a tax base that keeps taxes lower. The restaurants are paying school tax, but not sending kids to school. People move here for the school system that is paid, in part, by restaurants. Parking meters and fines more than pay for the police. I can't imagine a future New Hope that's prosperous without a flourishing business community. Tourism supports the borough because it keeps taxes lower, supports the schools, and supports the police force."

Added Gialias, "My perspective comes from being a resident here, having a family here, and having a family business here. I want New Hope to do well, and I need New Hope to do well."

But, cautions Gialias, "We should be careful not to lose our sense of small-town community. We need to be treating everyone with dignity, and respect what they bring to the town. And we need to be supporting people who are looking to renovate, restore, and maintain old properties.

"People that scrape and paint their houses every year should be praised, and not criticized if it's not the exact right color. Sometimes we get off track with that," continued Gialias.

And what difference can one Borough Council member make?

Says Gialias, "I will try to better inform the public about the major issues in town and get them involved in the process. We all want New Hope to continue being a great, lively, vibrant place where we can bring our family, friends, and relatives."

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