By Council Candidate Michael Putrino and Councilman Austin Ashley
The United Water Company (UW) gave New Milford four months - from January 1, 2011 to April 30, 2011 - to buy their property. The Mayor and Council ignored this opportunity and allowed it to expire without discussing its purchase or informing the residents.
We believe New Milford should purchase the property. This will insure that the people of New Milford – and not a developer – will determine the destiny of our borough.
Many good reasons supporting the purchase of the property have been discussed in various forums but one that has not been addressed is that buying the property is fiscally responsible.
Buying the UW property is fiscally responsible because it will allow us to create a flood mitigation plan that will work in conjunction with our current initiatives at the Hirschfeld Brook and the Hackensack River. This will increase our ability to reduce the damage inflicted by floodwaters and decrease the risk of loss of life and property to New Milford residents.
We could also build a much-needed multi-purpose field there, the cost of which would be less than the cost of the proposed field at the Middle School. In fact, the cost of the field on the UW property could be funded entirely by future open space grants at no cost to the taxpayers! We will work with the Board of Education, SOD and Field of Dreams to make this a reality. It makes sense for our New Milford Knights to compete next to the high school building. In addition, relocation of the high school football field to the UW property would also provide for the current field to be utilized for additional flood mitigation and retention.
The rest of the UW property should remain open space: a forest with park benches, grassland and plant life. Such open space is an attractive and rare commodity in Bergen County let alone in New Milford and would increase the beauty of our borough as well as our property values.
Allowing the development of the property would not be fiscally responsible. Although the idea of additional tax ratables from development might be enticing, those ratables would be more than offset by increased expenditures for our schools, public safety, infrastructure maintenance, increased flooding as well as our reduced quality of life and lower property values. It would end up costing New Milford more than it received.
In order to buy the property, we will pursue all sources of funding including Blue Acres, NJ Green Acres, Bergen County Open Space Trust Fund, SWAN and the Riverkeeper. These sources could secure a large portion of the purchase price over a two-to-three year period. We must also continue to engage all of our county, state and federal representatives to join our cause. Purchasing this property at the lowest possible cost to our residents is imperative.
Buying the UW property is the fiscally responsible course of action for New Milford and we will work to make it happen.
Michael Putrino, Austin Ashley