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You Can Read It In The Thursday Paper

Read All About It!

While most news junkies wait with anticipation for the Sunday papers, we inhabitants of Planet Belmar find Thursday to be the big news day.  Thursday, of course, is the day the Coast Star is published.

This week’s edition contained a few interesting stories that are probably more important than the smoking one which I’ve already written about.  (I wrote about that one first because I was in it.)

There’s three, actually, of particular interest to observers of Belmar’s governmental affairs.  Let’s have a look at them.

The big story is about the trio of lawsuits against the mayor’s beachfront plans.

Redevelopment lawsuit expected to be heard this coming Tuesday

Two other lawsuits pending rest on outcome of this lawsuit

BELMAR — Monmouth County Superior Court Assignment Judge Lawrence Lawson is expected to hear the case that will determine whether the borough’s designation of the beachfront as one in need of redevelopment is valid next week.

The court case stems from several lawsuits that were filed against the borough as it unveiled its plan to rebuild two of the four beachfront pavilions, all of which were damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

The lawsuits were filed by several residents in town, and all are being represented by Pringle Quinn Anzano. Former Belmar Mayor Ken Pringle is a partner in the firm.

The first lawsuit has to do with whether the borough’s designation of the beachfront, which is owned by the municipality, as one in need of redevelopment is a valid claim.

The second lawsuit seeks to compel the borough to comply with a petition filed on Sept. 18, 2013, with the borough, seeking to give Belmar voters an opportunity to vote via referendum on whether to incur the debt for the two new, planned pavilions at the beachfront.

The third lawsuit questions the legality of putting such debt solely on the beachfront utility, using flood insurance proceeds and increasing badge fees to pay for the pavilions.

The bond referendum and beach utility fund lawsuits will not be resolved until the lawsuit asserting whether the beachfront was lawfully designated as one in need of redevelopment is resolved, as the other two rest on that issue.

The issues could come to a close soon as the redevelopment lawsuit is expected to be heard on April 15 in Freehold.

Mr. Pringle said on Tuesday he is unsure of the scope of the court appearance and whether the judge is going to rule on the issue, or want to hear testimony………….

I’m not really sure why the suits about the funding of the 5th Ave and 10th Ave pavilions hinge on the outcome of the redevelopment lawsuit.  The issue regarding the use of beach revenues to construct what is being billed as a community center would be there regardless of the outcome of the redevelopment suit.  And I don’t believe the proposed $7 million (!) bond that “Let the Citizens Decide” is demanding a referendum on was taken out under redevelopment law.  The redevelopment issue is really about what’s going to happen at 8th and 13th Avenues and whether the town can legally claim the extraordinary powers it wants in directing what is done there and who gets to do it.  

If anyone can explain, please comment.

BTW, the second council meeting for April was supposed to take place this Tuesday, just a few hours after the court hearing.  That meeting has been cancelled.  This is the fourth month in a row that one of the two council meetings we’re supposed to have each month has been cancelled.  This is really starting to be a problem.  (I wonder if it’s even legal.)

Another big story is about the (non) investigation into the missing gift cards:

Gift card investigation ongoing

$9,050 in gift cards meant for Belmar Elem. still unaccounted for

BELMAR — Where more than $9,000 in gift cards meant for Belmar Elementary School [BES] families went is still a mystery, more than two months after Councilman Jim Bean first brought it to the borough’s attention.

Soon after Hurricane Sandy hit in October 2012, the Borough of Belmar purchased $20,000 worth of ShopRite gift cards with donations to dole out to residents in need — $17,000 of which was meant for Belmar Elementary School [BES] students and their families.

However, when Councilman Bean filed an Open Public Records Act [OPRA] request to see how many of the cards were given to BES, there was a discrepancy in how many cards the school said it received and how many the borough recorded as going to the school.

According to the OPRA requests, Belmar Elementary School received $7,950 in gift cards while the Borough of Belmar said it gave the school $17,000 in gift cards — figures Councilman Bean said he had both entities double or triple check………

……..The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office is currently investigating the matter with the help of the Belmar Police Department………

I donated $250 to the borough’s Pay-pal account on November 12, 2012.  At the time, I thought it was going to be used to help pay some of the town’s clean-up expenses.  Had I known it was going to be used to buy gift cards I never would have sent it in.  Anyway, about a week later then-administrator Bill Young bought the cards.  I think it’s safe to assume that half of my contribution is part of the nearly half of the gift cards that have gone missing.  

: (

The last story I want to talk about is the mayor’s plan to replace the old Seaport Redevelopment Plan with a new seaport redevelopment plan.

Advisory Committee created to discuss redevelopment plan

Intent is to scrap current plan, create new one that works for the town

BELMAR — In search of a new redevelopment plan that will work for the borough, an 11-member advisory committee has been created to brainstorm ideas for the new plan.

The creation of the committee was approved unanimously at a recent council meeting, and will consist of people in different professions, such as business owners, planning board members, engineers and developers, all of which can bring different ideas to the table.

Earlier this year, Mayor Matt Doherty announced the borough would be scrapping its current Seaport Redevelopment Plan, which was created in 2003, and replacing it with a new one………

 As you know, I’m against most government planning.  I think that as long as folks don’t plan to be a nuisance to their neighbors, they should plan themselves what they want to do with their own property.  

Aside from the moral problems inherent in government telling people what may be done with private property, government planning doesn’t work the majority of the time.  The old plan didn’t work and I doubt the new one will either.

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal provides us with just the latest example of government planning failing in spectacular fashion:

Newark’s Effort to Revive America’s Pastime Appears on Verge of Failure

Attending Baseball Games in City’s $34 Million Stadium Often Felt Like an Eerie Trip to Solitude

NEWARK—Attending baseball games in the gleaming, $34 million stadium built to fuel an urban revival here often felt like an eerie trip to solitude.

“I went to games and there might have been 40 or 50 people,” said Robert Swansen, 55 years old. “It was, like, mortifying. You’d be clapping and you’d be the only ones there.”

So it came as little surprise to the few die-hard fans that Newark’s effort to revive America’s pastime appears on the verge of failure. The Newark Bears’ latest owners plan to auction the naming rights, the 56-passenger bus, the John Deere tractors and even the beer taps later this month.

“It was just not possible to keep going,” said co-owner Danielle Dronet. “Newark just isn’t the kind of community where you can enjoy a game and walk around and have a drink or dinner after. We couldn’t make it work.”

That no professional baseball will be played inside Newark’s Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium leaves broader questions for Essex County and the city of Newark, which share more than $2 million in annual-debt obligations, according to county spokesman Anthony Puglisi. Taxpayers funded construction of the stadium………..

………Scott Rosner, a sports-business expert at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, said news of the auction “couldn’t have been what they were hoping for” when building the stadium.

One Comment

  1. joegoofinoff wrote:

    Good use of the word “We” by Jim.


    Saturday, April 12, 2014 at 9:56 am | Permalink

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