To the editor:
I am disappointed to see the Borough of Flemington place the former gas station property at 144 Main St., now known as "The Filling Station," on the market. If there is a sale of that property to private ownership the property will be gone from public use, never to be regained, at least not without paying an excessive price.
The location on Main Street that intersects with William Street, the corner of the Filling Station property is right at the point where Main Street narrows to such a point that we have both parking and safety issues. If a truck is parked on either side of the street, between Mine Street and William Street, on Main Street, one must slow to a crawl to avoid the risk of collision. In the wintertime when it snows, with snow piled on the curb and flowing off into the street, traffic must stop if anyone tries to get out of a car in that area of the street. It would make sense, if, under those conditions, the Filling Station property were available as a public parking lot.
The impact on the value of the properties between William and Mine Street is more than a little bit. A lack of parking is certainly a factor that affects the value of neighboring property. The safety issue of the narrowness of the street, especially when there is snow that has not been removed fully from the street, is a problem that rises above the ordinary that also affects neighboring property value.
If we are to forget the impact on the businesses in that area of town, or the need for parking generally in that area of town, what about the value to the community of a place to assemble for the social purposes that the filling station has provided.
I note that when it was recently closed on a Friday evening, because of projected questionable weather, a number of people chimed in on Facebook complaining. They wanted to be there. They did not understand the vendors who serve the people need advance notice to order supplies to be prepared to offer food or drink to the assembled citizens. Weather is unpredictable at times. Do we want to lose this citizen gathering place?
How many dollars per year in taxes will be collected if the property is sold and put back on the tax roles? I understand the property is listed at $380,000. I assume that in the process of obtaining a listing our governing body was provided with comparable sales indicating that the property had that value. And even if it sells at the full listed price how many tax dollars will it bring in? Sale proceeds will soon be gone, but a place of assembly will be still there if it is not sold. Also I find nothing in a recent article, or on the municipal web site, to tell us if any of the proceeds have to be shared with the State because of environmental cleanup costs. Perhaps information I've heard is wrong, but I understand that if Flemington was to keep the property, there would be no payment due to the State. I would love to see an analysis somewhere justifying the sale. Does anyone else want that information? I don't find anything on the borough website to provide that information. Should something as important as this sale have a place of its own on the website?
But without regard to the dollar value, it seems to me that the area has been a wonderful assembly location for citizens to meet and talk with each other and to develop themselves into a community of citizens. Why must that be lost? Is it worth the cost?
Lee Roth, Flemington