In her appearance at the March 14, 2011, work session, Borough Grant Writer Marlene Casey told the Mayor and Council that although the town could apply for grant money through Green Acres and Open Space multiple years to assist in funding the purchase, "It's a gamble."
A "gamble" that did not pay off for the Borough when they were not approved for multiple grants for the purchase of the Carlton Place property.
At the time that Casey appeared at the March 14 work session, Hekemian had already entered into a private sale contract with United Water for the purchase of the 13-acre tract of land.
The window of opportunity to purchase this property seems to have straddled two administrations--former Mayor Frank DeBari (D) (who was defeated in the November 2010 election) and Mayor Ann Subrizi (R) who defeated DeBari.
Despite that fact, the question of the purchase of the United Water property through grants was raised by former Councilman Howard Berner who asked Casey, "What about the United Water Company property? Is there that kind of funding around to buy something like that?"
"What they're asking for it now?" Casey responded. "No," adding that she had heard what Hekemian "supposedly is willing to pay for it."
"It's a shame you have the last significant piece of property in town...to let it go to Hekemian," Berner said.
Casey continued by saying that it was possible to purchase the property entirely in grants, but it would not happen all at once with one lump sum.
"There isn't one pot of money from any of the agencies that we seek open space funds from that will allow you to purchase it with grants in one year," she said.
Casey explained that when other towns approach her about applying for grants for projects that require a large sum of money she instructs them that only they can decide how important the purchase of a piece of property is for their town.
"You're going to have to take a leap of faith and you're going to file applications in more than one place," Casey said. "You're also going to bond the purchase and then over a period of maybe three years you can pay the bond back with grants."
Casey informed the council that they could have potentially had $2.6 million in grant money to put towards the purchase of the United Water property--$2 million annually from Green Acres grants and $600K through Bergen County Open Space grants.
However, the town would have had to bond the money first in order to give the seller their money without delay, and pay off the bond once the grants had been approved, in approximately two to three years.
Understanding that the United Water property was in the middle of a private sale, Casey said that the town could not interrupt that transaction.
"I'm only telling you what the strategy would be if you can get them to agree to your price," Casey said.
"It's a private deal and there's nothing you can do at this point, but if the deal falls through there are options."