Monday, August 6, 2018

Flashback 7/17: Legislators blow off final chance to STOP

By Frank Warnock and Angela Connolly

Memories of 1 year ago, and the colossal failure on the part of our "legislators" to save the Orphanage Property, and the last chance ever for a regional park in Ogletown/Rt.4.

NCC Exec Meyer offers to buy the land on behalf of the County and the State, at appraised value only, despite close to a million dollars in developer planning, engineering and labor that would have to be absorbed. The Sisters offered to "meet halfway" on that, as long as Meyer produced a buyout agreement containing basic conditions (i.e. who's going to plow the snow at the entry road, etc) that they previously agreed upon in prior meetings. But Meyer wouldn't budge, instead producing a buyout agreement that doesn't address said conditions. District 5 Councilwoman Lisa Diller supported Meyer's stance, saying that paying above appraised value would be unfair and unacceptable to taxpayers, even though Diller herself endorsed paying over appraised value for the land required for the $30M Library on Rt.9. On the other hand, saving the Orphange Property -- in Diller's own district -- would have cost NCC a mere 10% of that!

Wow; they knew EXACTLY how their constituents felt, in that they would rather have the "Chestnut Hill Preserve" than spend a little over appraised value!

WNJ: "In an interview Saturday, Meyer declined to directly address his correspondence with the Sisters or say whether negotiation ends with this rejection. He did indicate his administration is done making offers for now and it is up to the Sisters to counter".
  • Where was Diller, Rep Ed Osienski and Sen Bryan Townsend during these negotiations? Since they were absent, why didn't they insert themselves during and after, and demand that Meyer write a fair and viable buyout offer with the conditions he had already promised the Sisters?
  • Why was it incumbent on the Sisters to "counter", when they already had a much better offer from the Developer with a finished plan? They were agreeable to a park, but it was the Legislators that SHOULD have wanted it most on behalf of their constituents, and thus fervently pursued it.
  • Two months passed while Meyer waited for the Sisters to "counter", and with that, the final buyout opportunity expired. During that time, he came on a tour of the Orphanage Property with area residents, resolute that he would save the land if his apprenticeship reform bill was passed by NCC Council -- of which a modified version did.
  • Townsend was having "nightly phone calls" with the Nuns over this period. Why wasn't HE and Osienski livid, insisting that Meyer accept the slight over-appraised cost and include the conditions he promised them, or they would call on Gov Carney to act? The State has ultimate veto authority, and can invoke Eminent Domain if called upon.
The whole thing is foul, wretched, stinking of collusion between each of the NCC and State legislators. They knew that development was coming all the way back to 2013, and now they had to cover themselves -- that they were actually trying to stop it. But from Osienski's very words alone ("it [the development] is going to happen, it's going to happen"), we knew they weren't trying; not even close.

If the Legislators truly made a mistake by waiting until July 2015 to spring the completed exploratory plan on the public -- too late for residents and advocates to stop it -- they would have been an overwhelming presence at Meyer's negotiations and demanded he complete a fair purchase of the Orphanage Property. That or involve the Governor and overrule Meyer and NCC from the State side. Instead, they stood idly by, trusting Meyer to go it alone; a man who was just elected, isn't from the area, took numerous campaign contributions from developer and construction interests, and has no respect or regard for quality of life in Ogletown-S. Newark.

November can't come soon enough, folks. Let's boot these cretinous profitmongers from elected office; please help by spreading the word, sharing our posts, and joining in future action calls and alerts.

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