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SOD Responds To Riverkeeper's Support of United Water Property Development

Disappointed that the Hackensack Riverkeeper supports development on the United Water property, SOD speaks out.

The Executive Board of Stop Overdevelopment has been aware of the Riverkeeper's (Bill Sheehan) support for the proposed development of the United Water property in New Milford. We were very disappointed that before getting the full story of SOD's opposition to the project, he went public by publishing an editorial in his seasonal newsletter supporting converting what is now open space into a highly developed mixed use complex. 

After reading the editorial in which our position was completely misrepresented, we tried to arrange a meeting through a third party who has long and positive dealings with him to discuss what we believe are glaring misstatements and a complete misunderstanding of the situation in New Milford. Instead of answering our request for a meeting he has gone public with his ridiculous conclusions. 

How anyone who purports to represent the best interests of the environment surrounding the Hackensack River can give a ringing endorsement to this flawed and dangerous plan is beyond our understanding. From the very beginning of our organization's existence, we were told that Mr. Sheehan's donors include the Inserra and Hekemian entities and that we should not expect to receive his support. 

While we were shocked by this information, we never expected him to become their mouthpiece for this project. I tried to find the list of his donors on the Riverkeeper's website, but conveniently, the list is no longer available online.  One thing is certain, his comments were not based on anything more than the developer's and property owner's propaganda. He cares nothing for New Milford, its residents and its environmental health.   

I urge all of The Patch's regular followers to email The Riverkeeper at info@hackensackriverkeeper.org or call 201-968-0808 to register your disapproval of his position and out and out disregard for his own mission statement, which says: "The primary Mission of Hackensack Riverkeeper, Inc. is to provide representation for the natural living resources of the Hackensack River. This representation is manifested in Hackensack Riverkeeper's environmental advocacy, education and conservation programs. The focus of Hackensack Riverkeeper, Inc. is to protect and defend the environmental quality of the eco-system of the estuary, river and watershed and the quality of life for the people and other creatures that inhabit the Hackensack River watershed." 

Miriam Pickett

Executive Director, Stop Overdevelopment

NM Resident November 29, 2012 at 12:27 PM
Billy Sheehans list of donors including SHOPRITE: http://www.hackensackriverkeeper.org/links.html. He has the title of "RiverKeeper" because the company he founded in 1997 HACKENSACK RIVERKEEPER, INC supports him as such- NOT because he was publicly elected. This is a non-governmental organization, a non-profit COMPANY (which does not directly imply that it is not profitable or the executives do not draw salary or have their expenses covered). Hackensack Riverkeeper, Inc. 231 Main Street Hackensack, NJ 07601-7304 201-968-0808 201-968-0336 fax To maintain a non-profit status they must make their financial data available upon request. (from about.com) Ask for the past three audited financial reports. No need for the annual report if you can get financials. Why 3 years? You can get a look at some financial patterns and (micro) trends that might be helpful for you to see. Ask for the UNAUDITED year-end financial statements for the past three years. Ask whether the agency has previously received federal grant dollars. The feds review the percentage of revenue used for admin expenses--which includes salaries. (Typically, nonprofit boards serve without compensation, though they may receive expense reimbursements.) (or) Look up the agency's annual IRS form 990 on Guidestar's website- http://www.guidestar.org/organizations/22-3530496/hackensack-riverkeeper.aspx
Lori Barton November 29, 2012 at 01:49 PM
I find it quite "interesting" that the letter I emailed to the Riverkeeper Board of Trustees on 11/7 appears to have been "lost." I re-sent it yesterday and received confirmation that it has been received. PLEASE send your letters and let them know that Sheehan's politics seem to have crossed paths with the mission statement. The least he can do is to honor the request to sit down with community members as Miriam has asked. His total lack of knowledge about the situation in New Milford is glaring. The Riverkeeper Board of Trustees needs to put a muzzle on him.
Ulises November 29, 2012 at 01:52 PM
Thank you Miriam for setting the record straight.  We kept quite about all his misinformation to his members long enough.  Our environmental friends warned us months ago that he'll never support us because of his Inserra ShopRite and United Water contributions, so we stayed away from him and never asked him for anything, but they were so right about him.  Environmental groups throughout question his integrity, see the attached link our friend John sent us a few weeks ago: http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/1104727/riverkeeper_also_keeps_murky_gifts_critics_say/
Ulises November 29, 2012 at 02:03 PM
NM Resident, thank you for this information.
miriam pickett November 29, 2012 at 02:45 PM
Everyone needs to folow the link posted above by Ulises. It is an eye opener.
Mark G November 29, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Three Dollar Bill is a phony. From what I hear he is trying to establish himself in the northern part of the river. Just like Hudson County Politics has no place in Bergen County, neither does he. He is nothing more than a hack and a river rodent. This guys also chairs the BC open space funding, he needs to be sent packing. he is no friend to New Milford, Bergen County or the Hacky.
miriam pickett November 29, 2012 at 05:38 PM
I can only hope that private citizens who have always thought the Riverkeeper was on their side now see he is nothing more than a hack who is only interested in self aggrandisement. If you are a contributor please think twice before giving this man your money. There are other, more noteworthy area environmental organizations that deserve your money. I personally recommend SWAN. They have worked tirelessly for decades to make sure our wetlands are protected from overdevelopment. You can find out more about them at bergenswan.org.
TommyIce November 29, 2012 at 05:49 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!
Michael J. Gadaleta December 01, 2012 at 03:43 PM
Thank God that the ol' Capt. doesn't work for " Consumer Reports "...OUCH ! You do need to read this.
Lauren Maehrlein December 02, 2012 at 07:16 PM
Hi All - I'm posting the letter that was sent to Bill Sheehan, so that you can see it was non-confrontational, and only asked that he take the time to hear our point of view. His non-response was deafening! Because it is too long to fit, I'm breaking it in half. Hi Captain Bill - I read with great interest your "At the Helm" column in the fall 2012 "Tidelines." As you might expect, I am intimately involved in the efforts of New Milford S.O.D. to fight the development of the old Hackensack Water Co. property, and was distressed to read your endorsement of Hekemian's original plan. You state (page 3) "We simply don't have the resources to weigh in on every local dustup." but then go on to not only weigh-in, but also endorse, the original plan: "On balance, the original Hekemian plan is a good, practical alternative that would result in a balanced redevelopment . . ." We of the New Milford environmental community and the members of SOD admire and respect the wonderful work you and your crew are doing to help protect our watershed. We know that your recommendations carry a great deal of weight, and because of that, we were extremely upset to learn of your endorsement of this project. Your endorsement may, perhaps even unconsciously, persuade a decision maker to vote in favor of a very ill-advised project. (continued)
Lauren Maehrlein December 02, 2012 at 07:18 PM
Letter to Bill Sheehan, continued: My reaction to reading your column was that you may not have had heard all angles of the pertinent data regarding the project when you made your endorsement. Because we do believe that your endorsement is major, we would like you to understand what it is that is driving dozens of us to spend night after night at long, boring meetings, hours writing letters and chatting up our friends and neighbors, and spending our money to fight this project. It is very definitely not a case of NIMBY. I, on behalf of the members of SOD, would like to invite you to meet with us - either in person, or via a conference call - to hear our perspective on this boondoggle. Please let me know if, and when, such a meeting might be possible. With best wishes, Lauren
Lauren Maehrlein December 02, 2012 at 07:22 PM
Please note that as of today (or perhaps earlier) the following message is posted under "Sponsors": In order to protect the privacy of our friends and supporters, Hackensack Riverkeeper no longer lists donors on our website. A full list of donors for the previous year will be listed in each Spring Tidelines newsletter.
miriam pickett December 02, 2012 at 11:35 PM
Thanks, Laurie, for posting your letter to the Riverkeeper. We in SOD are proud of the way we handled his original comments. Through you we tried to engage him in a dialogue and there was absolutely no response from him. Thank you for your efforts on SOD's behalf and thank you for your years of public service in New Milford.

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