Editor's Note: We have combined the Letter to the Editor we received from this resident with a statement he sent to the Clerk's Office to be read into the record
To the Editor:
Barnegat's Mayor John Novak uses stealth resolutions two months in a row to hide sale of historic firehouse. So much for Mayor Novak's pledge of transparency which lasted for two months. At the March 3, 2020 township committee meeting, and the April 7, 2020 meeting an important resolution was buried in the consent agenda. The resolution authorizes the advertisement of bids for the public sale of Township property Block 250 Lot 23, 686 E. Bay Avenue. That property is the location of the historic firehouse, which most recently served as the town’s Emergency Management Office.
. I used the term stealth resolution because of the resolution being buried in the consent agenda. The township places this notice at the beginning of the consent agenda "Consent Agenda: The below listed items are considered to be routine by the Township of Barnegat and will be enacted by one motion". The sale of an important historic building is certainly not a routine item and listing as such is certainly unethical and may be illegal.
The following was submitted to the Barnegat Court Clerk so that it can be read into today's record at the regularly scheduled monthly meeting that uses a virtual format:
Dear Ms. Rivers,
I have serious concerns regarding Resolution 2020-154 listed on the consent agenda for today's meeting. I feel that it's unethical to list this important resolution on the consent agenda as it certainly is not routine. It also does not meet the standards as set forth in the 2013 New Jersey Revised Statues Title 40A- Municipalities and Counties .Section 40A:12-13 - Sales of real property.
Selling a 90 year old structure that's significant to the Barnegat Historic District should have required an open discussion with the various groups involved with the district such as the Barnegat Historic Preservation Commission and the Barnegat Historical Society. The committee made a commitment to bring more activities into the downtown and the firehouse/emergency management building could play an important role in doing that. It would be an ideal location for a cultural and art center similar to the Pine Shores Artist Association in Stafford. They are headquartered in a historic building owned by the township. They have a membership 0f over 300 members and offer art classes, art shows and various other activities. I urge the committee to brainstorm with the various groups to find a way to keep the building for a beneficial public use.