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Matt Gives Away The Store

….Well, It’s Parking Lot Anyway


I really wish there were more public participation at the borough council meetings.  Time after time I see big decisions made, decisions that affect the taxpayers by hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars, with only a handful of us paying any attention to what’s going on.  Even former council members and former candidates never show up.

One of those big decisions was made last night.  The mayor, over the objections of Councilman Wright, Councilman-Elect Bean, resident Gene Creamer and myself, committed Belmar to maintain Belmar Plaza as a parking lot for fifty years.  We are now committed to paving, plowing, lighting, striping and cleaning that lot, for the benefit of the owners of Belmar Mall, until my 11 year old daughter becomes a grandmother.  Last August the council passed an ordinance to bond $420,000 and to grub another $200,000 from the state in order to spend $620,000 on this generation’s renovation of the lot.  With the ordinance that passed last night, the council has committed the next generation and the generation after that to similar expenses.

So what did Belmar receive in exchange for this half-century commitment?  We are getting a promise that BMIA, LLC, owners of Belmar Mall, will drop their appeal for the past two year’s property taxes on the building.  We are told that the appeal would most likely have been successful, and would have reduced the tax paid by $70,000 to $90,000.  Does that sound like a good deal for Belmar?  Seems like a paltry reward for such a large commitment.  And most likely BMIA will appeal next year’s taxes anyway.

As always it was left to me to suggest what would be the proper thing to do and as always my suggestion was completely ignored.

Obviously (at least to me) the correct thing to do in this case would be to sell the part of the parking lot surrounding BMIA’s building to BMIA.  It just makes no sense for the company not to own it’s own parking lot.  I say let BMIA keep the land as a parking lot for the next hundred years if they wish, but let them buy the land and be responsible for the paving, plowing, etc.  Instead of being a liability for the town, the land would generate tax revenue and the price Belmar receives for the land, which I would guess could be in the millions, could pay off a lot of our debt! 

Sadly, the objections of one or two residents, as good as their arguments might be, is rarely enough to stop this administration from doing what it wants to do.  Only if there are dozens of objections will there be any possibility of them slowing their plans.  Unfortunately there probably aren’t even two dozen people in town that are paying close enough attention to even be aware of a lot of the things being done with their money.     



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