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Resident Rebuts Riverkeeper's Position On Development of United Water Property

SOD Communication Chair responds to Hackensack Riverkeeper

Captain Bill has done a major disservice not only to the residents of New Milford, but to all who have respected his position as Riverkeeper. The misinformation concerning the United Water property in New Milford is simply mind boggling. First, the one and only application ever submitted to the Borough of New Milford is the one currently being reviewed by the Zoning Board. This is the monstrosity that Captain Bill concedes is "an inflated development plan." His assertion that this was not the first plan submitted is absolutely inaccurate. Hekemian Developers made a presentation in April 2011 describing the "smaller" plan. That plan was NEVER formally submitted. The current plan was introduced early in 2012. SOD was formed AFTER this application was submitted.

Second, how Captain Bill can possibly consider the removal of green space in a community that lacks green space to be a "good, practical alternative" is beyond me. The commercial ratables he touts would be offset by the increased costs incurred due to that development. That development alone would trigger additional obligations to provide affordable housing in a community that lacks the space (both physically and in our schools) to build more housing. The benefit to the school system would be minuscule: the acreage provided for a field would not be big enough for anything other than a practice field and would be located in the lowest area, most prone to flooding. What this community needs is a facility large enough for real competition. The UW property, not a tiny piece of it, is the only space left in New Milford that would be large enough to accommodate a full service athletic facility.

Third, how can Captain Bill say that this property is devoid of vegetation? It is loaded with both flora and fauna. It serves as home to many different species. It is far from being dry: there is a berm around it to protect it from the all too often floods, courtesy of Mother Nature and UW's inadequacy in managing their reservoir system. It is GREEN, not industrial. Come take a look, Captain Bill.

Fourth, concerning the inability of New Milford to afford the $8 million price tag, no one ever asked us! This was decided mostly by Mayor Subrizi even after the grant writer informed her that this was very doable. But it was Subrizi's "vision" to have a new ShopRite on that land. As the Superintendent of Schools has stated: "Do you know of any community whose leaders celebrate the legacy of a strip mall?" Perhaps Captain Bill has not talked to the other elected officials in New Milford. The majority do NOT support Subrizi's vision. Perhaps Captain Bill should not be urging those of us in New Milford to support our elected leaders in this effort. Perhaps he should be urging Mayor Subrizi to support the majority on the council who support SOD's vision to maintain open space that will not impact flooding in a flood prone community, will not add to pollution (air, noise, water and light), will not impact negatively on the ability to provide emergency services, and will not add to already congested roads (necessitating the widening of River Road and removal of even more trees).

And now, how do we undo the damage that Captain Bill has wrought? Patch readers need to know that Captain Bill has provided them with fiction rather than a truthful account of the real situation in New Milford.

Respectfully,
Lori Barton
New Milford

Rick November 28, 2012 at 04:41 PM
Bravo, Lori. Bill Sheehan's comments exude ignorance. It's a shame anyone would care and/or respect anything he has to say on the matter, sharing his ridiculous suggestions and information as fact, with the public.
Ulises November 28, 2012 at 06:10 PM
Thank you Lori. Captain Sellout doesn't care about the river as much as he does about his corporate sponsors and that's evident with all the misinformation he's sending out to his members and the press. Rick and I do river cleanups all the time and this InSerra strip mall he's defending is only going to pollute more because it's adjacent to the river. He's obviously looking out for his own interest, only. What a horrible disservice this man is doing to the river he claims to care about so much and to the communities he's sticking it to.
David Bednarcik November 28, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Thank you Lori!!
B.Barbagallo November 28, 2012 at 07:06 PM
Thank you Lori for your eloquent rebuttal. I think the biggest obstacle is the one you posed at the end of your letter - how to undo the damage done by Capt. Bill. Being disgusted with Capt Bill's comments is one thing, but his comments are so detrimental to New Milford that I am at a loss as to how to counteract this. If anyone has any suggestion?..........
NM Resident November 28, 2012 at 08:08 PM
Hackensack Riverkeeper, INC a company formed by Ben Sheehan in 1997, through which he maintains the non-governmental and non-publicly elected title of "Riverkeeper, lists both SHOPRITE AND UNITED WATER as corporate sponsors. http://www.hackensackriverkeeper.org/links.html
miriam pickett November 28, 2012 at 09:12 PM
SOD reached out to Bill Sheehan after seeing his editorial in his newsletter. We requested a meeting with him so that we could explain New Milford's situation and SOD's position on the development. He never replied to our request. Instead, I woke up this morning and checked the Patch as I always do and there was his ridiculous argument for this development to go forward. He has completely dismantled all his years of great service to the community. He is shilling for the companies that donate and has lost sight of his mission and the people who depend on him to fight for a clean and healthy environment. He should be more than ashamed.
Locoagogo November 28, 2012 at 09:36 PM
I say yes to a new Shoprite. Speak up if you agree. We need to find a solution that benefits residents, Shoprite and Hekemian. It's my hope that someone can broker a deal that leaves us with a beautiful new place to shop and a field our children can be proud of. Not in my back yard isn't good enough. Lets move forward.
tony g2010 November 28, 2012 at 10:53 PM
I agree, in River Edge at the old Huffman Koos building, next to a highway and liquor store. They are dying for the ratables and to clean up a VACANT LOT.
TommyIce November 29, 2012 at 03:41 AM
You want a beautiful place to shop Loco? Go to Stop & Shop in Emerson. It's big, nice selection, CLEAN, and doesn't create a traffic strangling, pollution creating, overcrowding, TAX INCREASING BURDEN, that the Heikemian/Inserra barbarian horde will.
Jose A. Camacho, Esq. November 29, 2012 at 05:35 AM
I could not believe the nonsense The so called "river keeper" set forth in support of a proposal that was never set forth. Thank God it came after SOD and the People of New Milford have made their position clear in protest and in our recent elections. I am confident the current proposal will be defeated and those elected officials if any who still refuse to hear the cries of its residents will be relieved of their positions in subsequent elections! TO SOD AND THE RESIDENTS OF NEW MILFORD FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT AND STAY THE COURSE! THE SHIP IS FINALLY SAILING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION!!!
Lori Barton November 29, 2012 at 12:11 PM
I say yes to a new ShopRite, too...but in its current location where all approvals have already been granted. That is the solution that benefits residents and ShopRite. Frankly, I don't care to benefit Hekemian. And our children and this entire community deserve a decent athletic facility, not the practice field that would abut the back of ShopRite and a strip mall. It's not in my backyard, or that of Ulises, or Rick, or most of the people fighting to save green space in New Milford. If you feel so strongly, why not show up at a zoning board meeting to voice your support? Honestly, there has not been even one resident to stand up at a zoning board meeting to say they want any of this development. NOT EVEN ONE.
TommyIce November 29, 2012 at 05:50 PM
I would like to suggest that people go to www.hackensackriverkeeper.org/links.html, the page that lists Riverkeeper's "sponsors" (both environment and corporate) and write them and suggest you will not support them since their support of Riverkeeper is in DIRECT CONFLICT with the values and direction we have for our future. MONEY SPEAKS volumes!

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