Resident thinks town ownership bad idea
By John Burton
FAIR HAVEN – A resident would like borough officials to look a likely gift horse in the mouth.
Ruth Blaser is urging Mayor Benjamin Lucarelli and the borough council to reject a proposal to accept Schwenker’s Pond on River Road and a small parcel of adjoining property for the borough. Officials and the property owner are now in negotiations to turn the tracts over to Fair Haven as part of an agreement for the developer to construct two single-family homes nearby.
“I just don’t see that there is anything positive” about the borough’s assuming ownership of the property, said Blaser of River Road, who regularly spars with the governing body on a variety of issues.
Lucarelli, however, said, “I see this as a huge benefit for the town.”
Schwenker’s Pond has been part of what is commonly referred to as the Schwenker-Doremus estate, about 6 acres of property on River Road, according to Lucarelli.
The developer of the site initially wanted to use more of the property, but ran into problems with the local planning board over some environmental issues, specifically over nesting areas for the black crown heron, Lucarelli said.
The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has listed the bird on its threatened species list.
The planning board has approved the application of developer David Carr to use available property to construct the two homes, Borough Administrator Theresa Casagrande said. However, the subdivision has not received formal approval and still needs the borough council to accept the developer’s agreement, Casagrande said.
Casagrande declined to go into specifics as the details are still being negotiated. If approved, the borough will get about 4 acres, which includes the pond, and an 80-foot path area around much of the water, reaching back to Glenn Place, toward the southern end of the site. Because the property is next to borough-owned property, it would make a nice size piece of passive recreational open space, he said.
“People will be able to fish all around the pond,” he said.
People have been using the location for years to fish. “I don’t think they even know they are fishing on private property,” Lucarelli said.
Carr has been in the process of clearing dead trees, saving the borough that expense, and has demolished the structure on the site he plans to develop, Lucarelli said.
The possibility of the property being turned over to the borough has come up previously, during the Halfacre administration. At that time the council “didn’t want to take on the responsibility and upkeep,” remembered Blaser.
“Evidently, this new mayor and council think it’s better than sliced bread.
“It’s just not a pretty site,” she said, noting how during dry summer months “it develops a crust that looks like green, like lime chiffon Jello,” she said.
She also maintains that taking ownership of the tract is “going to cost the town money … when the town has other things that need to be taken care of.” She pointed to ongoing discussions about future projects at McCarter’s Pond and at the eastern end of DeNormandie Avenue, where officials hope to eventually establish a small passive park overlooking the Navesink River.
The agreement will have to pass muster with the parties and then with the borough engineer, before being presented to the council for its consideration, Lucarelli said.