At a recent public hearing on Oakwood Park, when asked if a property appraisal or assessment had been done before considering the transfer of Oakwood Park and open space along the Passaic River to Union County for $1 in exchange for field improvements, the answer from the Mayor was, "No." When asked if an appraisal would be done before the Borough enters into a formal contract with the County, the answer was, again, "No." I suggested it might have been a good idea to know this information before negotiating a deal with the County and certainly before entering into a contract to transfer ownership.
In the absence of a desire on the Administration's part to obtain this information, I took the liberty of researching the current Borough tax records for myself and found that the assessed value of the land being considered for transfer to Union County is as follows:
Oakwood Park - Block 76, Lot 35: Land $1.8 Million, Improvements $1.08 Million
River Property - Block 85, Lot 32: Land $315,000
River Property - Block 85, Lot 34: $240,000
River Property - Block 90, Lot 14: $265,000
If you subtract out the improved value on Lot 35 and the 5 acres of non-Green Acres land (which consists of the existing DPW and WWT complex) the total value of land being transferred to the County for a dollar is $2,100,000. So if the deal goes through, the County will be giving New Providence a net improvement of less than $2 Million and if the Borough tries to exercise the reverter clause, and buy it back, we would have to pay $4 Million and still lose the 20 acres of River Property forever.
This is a bad deal for New Providence. There are other options to provide the fields our kids deserve. We do not need to enter into this contract with the County and give away 30 acres of the most valuable parkland and open space in our tiny Borough.
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