MAPLEWOOD, NJ – Local residents took to the podium at Tuesday night’s Township Committee meeting to ask that the public be included in the process of choosing a developer to design and build the new project on the Maplewood Post Office site.
As previously reported, the township has received proposals from eight developers who wish to bid on the project. The Township Committee has stated that its goal is to choose one of these developers for the project by the end of the year, and that decision would be made by the Economic Development Committee and the Township Committee.
The Economic Development Committee, according to the Township’s website, consists of Mayor Victor DeLuca, Township Committee members Gerard Ryan and Kathleen Leventhal. As well as Township Administrator Joseph Manning, Chair of the Maplewood Planning Board Tom Carlson, Municipal Attorney Roger Desiderio and Director of Community Relations Annette DePalma.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, resident Gideon Roman asked the Committee if the eight proposals would be shared with the public. DeLuca stated that it had not yet been decided, and that the Committee would be having their first discussion about the various plans this Thursday.
Township attorney Desiderio said he would look at the proposals and see if there is sensitive and proprietary information that would preclude making them public.
Dave Helmkamp, representing the group Engage Maplewood, presented to the committee the results of the group’s survey, which shows overwhelming support for the idea of the plans being shared with the public.
“Understanding that there may be proprietary information, but also understanding that this probably will have the biggest impact on our quality of life of any project in a long time, would it be possible to ask the developers who are shortlisted to make public presentations of their ideas,” asked resident Nick Schwartz-Hall.
DeLuca responded that no decision would be made about that until after Thursday’s discussion, and that it would not be in the township’s best interest to negotiate the land price publicly.