Dear Editor,

Joseph DiVincenzo is running for his 5th term in office as Essex County Executive.  I urge each of you not to give Mr. DiVincenzo another term for the following reasons.  To my knowledge, the South Mountain Reservation was chartered as a haven for wildlife, hiking, camping, and as a watershed.  Nonetheless, Mr. DiVincenzo has asked the Freeholders to appropriate millions of dollars to pave over the Reservation in order to expand the Turtle Back Zoo, and build a restaurant, zip line, and other active recreation sites, and associated acres of asphalt parking.  These “improvements” were not undertaken with an Environmental Impact Statement, despite repeated requests that the County do so.

The effects of this over-development are real: Traffic is backed up during rush hour on surrounding roads, particularly in West Orange.  Because the watershed has been compromised, homes in Millburn have experienced increased flooding.   Animals displaced from the Reservation now seek refuge in our backyards, destroying gardens and eventually ending up as road kill.

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I have attended 4 Freeholder meetings to ask that they not fund expansions.  I have attended 3 meetings held by zoo officials presenting their “Master Plan” to further develop the Reservation.  The public outcry was wholly against further development.  The officials ignored us.  

The only way we can control Mr. DiVincenzo is to vote him out of office.  I urge you to take action on November 6th to protect the Reservation.


Judith L. Rosenthal
Short Hills, NJ