An open letter to the Chairman and CEO of Hartz Mountain Industries, Leonard N. Stern

Dear Mr. Stern: 

Myself, and many other residents in Cranford were very sorry to see that your company filed a legal motion on August 15 in our town’s affordable housing case in order to build a massive, mostly ‘luxury’ rental complex at 750 Walnut Avenue, Cranford, NJ. 

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Cranford is a small suburban town, not a city. This vast development would increase the town's population up to 10%. It would severely stress our school system, traffic patterns, emergency response systems, and quality of life. It would change it into something more akin to a city. 

The dedicated citizens on our Board of Education have pretty much begged that you call this damaging project off. Literally hundreds of neighbors have objected in person and joined up to express their deep concerns on social media.

Some of the residents have an idea instead.

If you come out to visit Cranford, you will see a beautiful winding river surrounded by lush green ribbons of parkland connected by a short railroad bridge to your site. You can even rent a canoe to explore it.  

This is the lovely Rahway River Parkway, beloved and supported for decades by organizations like Friends of Rahway River Parkway, the Rahway River Watershed Association, and of course its longtime stewards, the Union County Parks & Recreation Department.

Generations of Union County children have grown up playing and learning in the limited amount of parkland along the river as it winds to the Arthur Kill tidal strait.

But this is an area that still sorely lacks green acres. As places like Cranford get more and more overdeveloped and vicious storms seem to hit us with increasing, we desperately need more permeable land near our river. The devastation here from Hurricane Irene was just staggering.

Why not donate the 30.5 acres as parkland to the Union County park system? In fact, the members of the Sperry Beinecke family, who you may know as generous supporters of the Wildlife Conservation Society much like yourself, donated various lands to the same system in Cranford. You'd be carrying on a great tradition of philanthropy.

Please reach out to Chairman Bergen of the Union County Freeholders, as well as the state's Green Acres Program today. 

Best regards,
Kathy Allegro