Seeking Support in Middletown for Four Ponds Appeal
To the Editor:
Many residents of Middletown and its vicinity know that on June 20 of last year the Middletown Planning Board voted 9-0 to reject the application of Four Ponds Associates to build a 342-unit townhouse/apartment complex near the center of the Village of Lincroft.
Some of these residents may not know, however, that the applicant has appealed the denial to the Superior Court. Consequently, it is imperative that area citizens understand that the fight to retain the integrity and character of Lincroft is far from over.
To the end, residents are encouraged to attend an informational meeting sponsored by SONIC (Save Our Neighborhood’s Integrity and Character) at Brookdale Community College, on Thursday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m.
To make it possible for the opinions of local citizens to be heard during this appeal process, Ron Gasiorowski, the attorney who presented the case against the Four Ponds application to the planning board, has been retained to continue his work on behalf of SONIC.
The effectiveness of his case against the petition before the planning board is evidenced by the fact that the board’s resolution of denial relied heavily on the testimony of the expert witnesses presented by Mr. Gasiorowski. SONIC hired these experts to expose the numerous defects in the application.
Mr. Gasiorowski will continue to counter the proposed building plan as the appeal goes through the courts. In the early stages of these proceedings he filed a motion to intervene on behalf of SONIC, and overcame the objections of the developer. Obviously, such legal action requires time and money. My colleagues and I will contribute both of these. We ask you to show your support for our common cause.
During the remainder of the appeal, should any discussions ensue as to a proposed settlement of this matter, such as re-sizing the proposed community, Mr. Gasiorowski will represent SONIC and the community will benefit.
That is precisely where we stand, as I write this. We have a seat at the table in the court proceedings. During the original planning board hearings, which took just over a year to complete, we incurred $60,000 in professional fees. These fees covered the cost of counsel and our three expert witnesses, who carefully built the record that supports the decision of the board.
Even though we have a seat at the table, no additional testimony or other evidence can be introduced by the parties. It all comes down now to the legal issues. SONIC continually pushed the residents to help with the cost to build this record by contributing money, as many of you have done. But there is certainly a need for the community to contribute again to defend the decision that protects our neighborhoods in Lincroft!
One example that shows what is at stake is the need for sewer improvements in the event this project is built. During the planning board meetings, the testimony was that these improvements could cost approximately $2 million. When the applicant’s engineer was questioned, the response was that the applicant would be willing to pay its “pro-rata share” of the “incremental cost” to Middletown. Well, who would pay the rest? The taxpayers, that’s who! Hard to fathom, but this proposed complex would cause the need for the sewer improvements and require you to pay for most of them – an arrangement that is patently wrong.
You can bet the same would be true for other so-called “incremental costs.” This is another reason why Abe Littenberg, Jeffrey Blumengold and SONIC as a whole are now appealing to you directly, asking you to both educate yourselves and send money, in care of the LVGA (Lincroft Village Green Association) at www.lincroftvillagegreen.org
The LVGA has been kind enough to collect, escrow and disburse funds to pay those professionals who have greatly assisted us in our opposition to this application. Please note on your contributions that they are for the “Four Ponds Opposition Fund.” Thank you for all of your support at the board hearings and from your pocketbooks.
In closing, let me quote the one and only Yogi Berra: “It ain’t over ’til it’s over!”
Founding Member of Save Our Neighborhood’s Integrity & Character (SONIC)
Attend Feb. 20 Meeting to Support M’town Library Branches
To the Editor:
On Jan. 16, the Middletown Library Board, headed by Brock Siebert, decided to hold its final vote Feb. 20 on closing the doors on all three of their branch libraries (Lincroft, Navesink and Port Monmouth) on March 1. The decision is being made due to budget cuts for the 2013 fiscal year.
During the Jan. 16 discussions, the library board, however, did not question discrepancies in the budget nor did anyone question library director Susan O’Neal on her recommendation to close the branches.
Robert Cordiano, the newest board member sitting as the mayor’s alternate, questioned the cost of benefits to employees that amount to almost 50 percent of the cost of salaries. He stated that as a businessman, if he had to carry this expense he would be out of business. O’Neal stated this was part of the union contract negotiated with all township employees. Why does no one question this outrageous waste of our hard earned dollars?
Not one member on the library board questioned the recommendation by the director to close the branches. Susan O’Neal has not considered any changes to the main branch that might allow the satellite branches to remain open, such as streamlining branch hours and/or consolidating branch librarians. The main branch is doubly staffed in the middle of the day (a time when branches could be open). There often are three to four staff behind the main desk when checkout is computer automated.
These branches are especially important to the children and elderly of our community. The children of these closeknit communities will no longer be able to ride their bikes or walk to their local library. In these challenging economic times more people are turning to libraries as a vital resource. A 2012 Center for Urban Futures study found circulation in New York City libraries up a whopping 59 percent. How can the Middletown Trustees be so shortsighted?
Please join me at the library board meeting Feb. 20 at 7 p.m. in the main meeting room of the Middletown Library to express your dissatisfaction with the board’s decision. Without the public support our branches will be closed forever.
Preserving Fort Hancock for the Future
To the Editor:
This letter was prepared because I was unable to attend the Jan. 23 National Park Service meeting concerning the future plans for decommissioned Fort Hancock at Sandy Hook.
I have followed and been critical of the National Park Service’s improper attempt to out-lease the Fort Hancock properties, which resulted in the NPS entering into an ill conceived 60-year arrangement with Sandy Hook Partners, LLC. After a period of over 10 years, the lease was terminated.
This shameful, protracted chapter in the NPS’s mismanagement of Fort Hancock must not be repeated. But as I review the selected members who now sit on the newly established commission for planning the future of Fort Hancock, I do not see any of the members of the conservation organization once known as Save Sandy Hook, LLC. This organization, led by its late president, Judith Stanley Coleman, brought to the public’s attention the many environmental and procurement improprieties the NPS had committed in its attempt to conduct this ill-conceived proposal which was ultimately terminated.
During this procurement the NPS failed to abide and adhere to one of its basic founding tenets, namely, that the only commercial ventures allowed on National Park land are those that enhance the recreational experience of park patrons, even after it was plainly and clearly brought to their attention.
It is said that those who ignore history are bound to repeat its mistakes. I sincerely hope that the NPS does not fall into that trap. National Park land is a rare and all too valuable asset to be wrested from the control of it rightful owners, the people of the U.S.A.
To assist in Fort Hancock’s future planning, I propose that former members of Save Sandy Hook, LLC be added to your commission as members. Two such citizens who did attend your meeting are Tara Ryan of Highlands and George Moffatt of Oceanport. Both are known for their conservation efforts and are well-regarded. They also are former members of Save Sandy Hook, LLC.
Peter P. O’Such Jr.
Retired Federal Procurement Officer
Former Member of Save Sandy Hook, LLC
Two River Moment
Red Bank’s Hook and Ladder Truck No. 1 pulls out of the firehouse on Mechanic Street, heading toward Broad Street on a snowy, winter day in this 1947 photograph. The borough’s fire department celebrated 140 years of service to the community last year.