Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Last week a letter was published in the Atlantic Highlands Herald asking voters not to vote for Mayor LeGrice because she has not “publicly committed to preserving the McConnell property for public use” or “taken any steps to secure this property for the community.” Mayor LeGrice should not publicly commit to preserving the property at this time as she and the Council members, who represent the Borough, must remain neutral and not take any steps to interfere in the McConnell contract with the developer, as Atlantic Highlands could be sued for interference in the transaction. This would cost the taxpayers a great deal in costs and fees. Also, The Neighbors for Waterfront Preservation have filed an appeal against the Borough’s Planning Board to ask the courts to overturn their decision to allow development of the property and the taxpayers are responsible for the lawyer’s fees to defend this lawsuit.
The McConnell property has been on the market for several years. During this period the Republicans were in control of the purse strings and there was never a move to purchase the property. They are guilty of not “taking any steps to secure this property…” During this same time another piece of waterfront property was available to purchase: the Giuliani tract, which purchase was opposed by the Republicans. During a Republican administration, SeaStreak purchased the property and put in a parking lot. (This reminds me of a line in a Joni Mitchell song, “Pave Paradise and Put Up A Parking Lot.”) Where were the supporters of waterfront open space over all those years? Where was the outrage? What incentive do the Republicans have to buy the McConnell tract now? The Republicans are making empty promises to win an election.
The waterfront open space is supported by most voters, and by our Mayor as long as it is not a tax burden, but it is not the only issue in our town. Atlantic Highlands is an economically and age diverse community with different needs and the Mayor and Council are responsible to all citizens. One issue that Mayor LeGrice has been working on is negotiating with the Trenton Catholic Diocese to purchase the now closed Mother Teresa School. One option mentioned for this property is the construction of affordable Senior housing. If the citizens of the Borough agree, the purchase of this property and the development of Senior housing would allow many of our older residents to stay in town.
During the past two years, when the Democrats have been in the majority, the municipal tax rate, due to the 2018 revaluation, dropped from 0.846 to 0.615 in 2018 and in 2019 to 0.603. (Republicans were still in the majority in 2016 and 2017). If taxpayers in our town have any complaints about high property taxes, they should be made to the Republicans who have controlled the purse strings for 28 of the past 32 years.
Another issue that has been raised are our Planning Board decisions. The Republicans were in power and made the Planning Board appointments when it approved the Carton building that now sits on First Avenue. This building is an eyesore and totally out of character for Atlantic Highlands. Where was the outrage? Where was the appeal of this Planning Board decision?
The author of the letter in the Atlantic Highlands Herald last week asked voters not to vote for a mayor if they don’t want to vote for the Republican running is an affront to my duty as an American.
Voting is a precious gift…let’s do it and vote for Mayor LeGrice!
Janice Davis Miller Gaudio