On Thursday, Holmdel Mayor Patrick Impreveduto sat with Holmdel Patch for one hour to answer questions posed by readers. Here are his answers.
Question on Plum Lane: I read a statement in the press that the municipal budget for 2012 had been passed "without the sale of open space." Does this mean the Plum Lane Open Space has been taken off the market? -- Tony Orsini
Mayor Impreveduto: It was never on the market. Remember, back in February when we discussed Plum Lane at that meeting, we gave the approval for the Township Administrator to look into the value, and that’s all we did. If we needed to sell it to solve our $3 million budget gap, then we would inform the residents in the community of the sale of the property.
Question on sewers and housing at Alcatel-Lucent property: Why, and based on what research and specific input did you change your position on sewer coverage at the Lucent property? Have we (employees of the town or governing body) spoken to Elsie Sterling in the last couple of months and if so, what has the planning board and TC done in reaction to her plans for Lucent?
Mayor Impreveduto: Initially I went on the computer. I looked at some studies that were done, particularly one done in 1995, where the EPA identified in its studies that septic was one of three main contaminants in groundwater. If you look at the studies in the past 20 years, they support it.
I found this letter on file sent from NJ American to the township on Feb. 9, 2004. NJ American Water stated that septic fails over time.
Not everyone takes responsibility to care for the maintenance of their septic system. This often leads to the 'out of sight, out of mind' approach.
Of course I spoke with our engineers and planner as well, and they concurred.
That accompanied with the realization that the property would not be sold without a strong housing component. As mayor, you have to do what best for all the residents of Holmdel. It might not adhere to your personal beliefs. By sewering the property, it's going to help create a substantial ratable for the town.
Regarding Elsie Howard, we spoke to her a couple of weeks back and we negotiated the housing component, the stacking plan for the building and their vision for the property. They're talking about a limited housing component, mixed use in the building and a data center. We still don't have a final concept plan from them. I spoke to them recently. They are negotiating with different developers regarding the housing components.
Question on Cross Farm land sale: You were elected to make decisions, why back off under 'pressure' and not sell the Cross Farm 'soccer' property? if the green space folks want to preserve it tell them flat out to pony up the cash. -- dan
Mayor Impreveduto: Cross Farm was put on the table. It was a period of discussion at the beginning of the year when we were looking at a $3 million deficit. Our financial situation has changed and there is no need to sell it.
In hindsight, there's a rumor floating around that the Board of Education over the next 'X' amount of years is looking to keep the BOE facilities unto themselves. They will not let the recreation groups use their facilities. If that is the case, then obviously I am glad we didn’t sell the Cross Farm Park piece because we will intend to expand the Cross Farm piece, which might include an indoor facility.
Question on televised government meetings: Why aren't the Township Committee meetings televised for those who are unable to attend the meetings? -- Joni Charles
Mayor Impreveduto: They are! Every meeting is on Comcast. It's been like that forever. I don't have Comcast, so I can't see them. We will investigate putting them online.
Question on bold new ideas at Alcatel-Lucent: The planning ideas around Lucent seem to revolve around the same ideas ...some housing, some retail, some recreational. What radical or innovative ideas have been strongly considered? See attached article on apple's proposed new campus http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/22/tech/innovation/new-apple-campus/index.html?iphoneemail-- Jeff Rossi
Mayor Impreveduto: I can say there has been some interest in some real radical ideas that would not generate any funds for the town. Other than that, we’ve had inquiries regarding equestrian, movie studio, solar farms, and even an underground waste disposal facility. Members of the community have contacted all of the major technology companies and Fortune 400 to ask if they are interested in the building. The reality is that a purpose-built, 2 million square foot building is obsolete for single uses. The most logical thing is the mixed use.
Questions on sewers, and mayor's vision:
Mayor, thank-you for doing this for your constituents.
1- Please clarify....As I understand it, if Larry Fink would have voted for the Redevelopment Plan back in December, the Lucent property would have not been sewered. Is that correct?
2- I believe there is still a budgetary gap for 2013, so if it helps to keep my property taxes down, I would like you to sell the lots on Plum Lane. The Township should not be in the real estate business, so get this land off the Township's inventory and onto the taxable base. This will benefit 99% of Holmdel's residents.
3- We live in the year 2012, I believe that whenever possible all properties should be hooked up to a sanitary sewer system....septic systems are disgusting and are prone to failure. That's a no brainer. Please comment.
4- As stated above, I like the idea of having the Committee meetings videotaped and shown later on cable TV.
5- Please share your vision for Holmdel over the next 1-2 years. -- Nick J.
1. The Lucent property never came to a vote because of Lucent's objection to the Redevelopment Plan. As far as what [Township Committeeman] Larry Fink would have done, ask Larry Fink. The DEP said back in December that unless we modify the zoning, the entire property would be sewered. The Redevelopment Plan was our proposed rezoning: when it was not adopted, we lost the opportunity to change the DEP plan.
The meeting in December was attended by 100 people and they were all upset we were going to push the Redevelopment Plan. It's over now, it water under the bridge.
Question 2 - 4, see previous answers.
Question 5: My vision for Holmdel? With Lucent coming on board, with Meridian expanding their hospital, with us looking to develop commercial properties on Route 35 -- that will help Holmdel to get where it needs to be for a sustainable future, and to help keep our home values strong.
It’s about time we started doing things for all residents in the community. We are looking to do something for seniors, by enhancing a park with bocce courts, shuffleboard, chess and checkers, a gazebo. We're looking at outdoor movie nights, and a big community event for September or October. I'm looking to create a 'wow' factor for Holmdel. Colts Neck has its country fair, other towns have parades. My personal vision for Holmdel is to make it a cohesive community, to create that hometown atmosphere.
Question on swim club: The Township Committee approved a swim committee in early March and several residents have applied. What is your vision for the committee and when will it be appointed? - Cathy Weber
Mayor Impreveduto: We’ve had a disappointing response from the public participating in this swim committee. We are investigating a different option. We might put someone on the Recreation Committee to represent it, we are not sure.
Question on selling the swim and tennis center: Can we investigate selling the swim and tennis center to the private sector and get out of trying to run it ourselves with restrictions on what can be done there. -- Frank
Mayor Impreveduto: The swim center pays for itself. We have entered into a private/public partnership with Centercourt. They have refurbished the tennis courts at no cost to the town. They are going to run the academy while we still own the property. They spent money fixing it up and they will get their money back from running lessons. What I’ d like to see happen here is that they get so popular they would choose to develop an even larger facility in town.
Question on the public process: I'm curious about what the Alcatel Redevelopment Plan means as far as governmental checks and balances. I have been told that with the approval, the TC has taken control of the zoning for the whole property bypassing all the normal checking and balancing entities, i.e. the zoning board, and planning board will no longer have any say in the process. Also, how did the Plan grow from 40 homes to over 225 houses? Why stop at 225? Why not apartment buildings? Who benefits from the addition of residential housing on the Lucent property? From what I've observed, residential development never pays for itself. Who will pay for all the services to meet the needs of the new residents? -- Karen Strickland
Mayor Impreveduto: The characterization is incorrect. As I've stated numerous times at our public meeting on May 17 that we will adhere to all of the rules, regulations, policies and procedures that any other zoning change or development plan is required to do. There is a full set of checks and balances we must adhere to.
Question about the sewer fund: When is the Township going to repay the sewer customers who were solely responsible for building the sewer surplus in the first place? Why have they been forced to subsidize the rest of the town ?...steve h.
Mayor Impreveduto: From 2007 - 2011, all of the taxpayers had to subsidize that fund because there wasn’t enough money being generated. We now have rates that have returned the sewer utility to ‘self-funding’ as required. Nontheless, we charge the lowest amount in the Bayshore region for sewer costs to our residents.
The money came out of the operating budget, so every taxpayer paid for it to be solvent. When we feel that the fund is financially stable, we will consider reducing rates. At this stage in the game we’re only in a year into it.
Question about public input on the township budget: Can we post the township budget line by line on the township website similar to how school districts have to post Spdt, Asst Spdt, BA contracts? Taxpayers should be allowed to see exactly where our taxes are being spent. -- pete
We do. We also held public workshops. People called my office with questions. The information is readily available, and the residents can always call with questions.
Question on pain relief: More importantly, what is the mayor's favorite adult beverage? I feel he's going to need a drink after reading all this. -- Mike Nikolis
Mayor Impreveduto: I'm not much of a drinker, I like Diet Coke. Oh alright! A cold Martini with olives! Got to have the olives.
Question on Town Hall office space: What is the status of the former Parks and Rec space in the basement at Town Hall? Has there been any interest shown in the remaining office space in the former Bd. of Ed. offices now partially occupied by the Parks and Rec folks and the Mayor? -- Jenni Blumenthal
Mayor Impreveduto: Regarding the former parks and recreation space in the basement: Come to the next Township Committee meeting and Committeeman Buontempo will explain in detail.
Regarding office space, yes, we've had some interest. Nothing to announce yet.
Question on DEP petitions against sewering Alcatel-Lucent: What happened to all the protest petitions that were submitted to the DEP in opposition to the DEP's plans to extend sewer service areas to PNC Arts Center and Alcatel Lucent? -- steve h.
Mayor Impreveduto: They are in the hands of the DEP. We expect an announcement from them in coming months.
Question on traffic to be generated at Alcatel-Lucent development: Have you taken time to look into the traffic generated by alternate uses and how almost any alternative uses suggested for the existing building would produce traffic each hour of each day, 8AM to 9PM, 7 days a week, equal to the traffic generated one hour in the morning and one hour in late afternoon 5 days a week by Lucent? -- Larrabee M. Smith
Mayor Impreveduto: Residents have to come to the realization that for a number of years there has been no traffic on Crawfords Corner Road, and no matter what we put there is going to create traffic. We feel we are minimizing traffic with the senior development and not more than forty single-family homes. A data center, if it does happen, will have very few employees and virtually no impact. The mixed use in the building will create more traffic Monday-Friday than on Saturday - Sunday. There will be traffic. I personally don’t think it will ever equate to when Lucent was in operation.
Question about mayor's possible alter ego: Another question for the mayor: Is your online profile Nick J? -- William Y.
Mayor Impreveduto: Isn't there a little Nick J. in all of us? By the way, I want to thank Nick J. for all his support, I share his point of view.
Question about public input on Redevelopment Plan: Why didn't the township committee hold an open public discussion of the Redevelopment plan? How is the Redevelopment designation going to impact the school district taxes? Where did the 225 houses and full-on sewers come from, considering that previously a significant number of Holmdel residents (including the Mayor) opposed the large residential component and sewer extension on Lucent property? And one question where an answer is not really expected... who is going to be profiting from this sudden change? -- Eve
Mayor Impreveduto: This Redevelopment Plan, in essence, has been around for a number of years. To suggest it was done in the absence of the public is untrue. There was a charette, public presentation, discussion, public comments, we posted it on the website. While there have been some tweaks, there has not been any substantial changes. Who is going to profit? All of the residents of Holmdel.
Holmdel Patch wishes to thank Mayor Patrick Impreveduto for participating in this Q & A. We are accepting nominations for more people you'd like to ask questions of, in our new "Names in the News" feature on Holmdel Patch. Email the Holmdel Patch editor at email@example.com.