Granting ownership of Oakwood Park to the County is not in the long term best interest of New Providence.  I believe that granting title to any New Providence asset to the county is the wrong choice unless there is no other avenue available to accomplish a basic health or safety objective.  And, when or if that is the case, there needs to be an effective exit provision that guarantees we can economically go another direction if that is what’s best for us in the future.  The current proposal meets none of those conditions.

Further:

  • Granting ownership to the County will inevitably change our position from one where we decide to one where we “ask” or “get in line”.   New Providence will be getting in line with 2.7% of the registered voters – a position of weakness.    I can’t say exactly what the long term experience will be on every project with the county, but I can almost guarantee that “we worked it out” will be part of the spin as the weaker party did not get what they would have done if they owned it.  An example of the “get in line” logic we will face is the response to one of my questions at the Freeholders meeting last year. In substance the answer was “we could give you the money and not get title, but we won’t because then others would want the same deal”.
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  • The County’s timely future funding of capital repairs is inevitably “subject to” or “only if” something.   The County quickly executing future capital repairs could be “only if” the County tax funding open space continues.  Taxes can and do get repealed or modified - like New Providence reducing its own open space tax by 75% this year. When capital improvements become a general obligation of the County “our park” gets in line behind Police, Roads & Hospitals – which are basic health and safety items and will correctly get priority.
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Questions every resident needs to do their own thinking on …. 

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#1 - “Am I willing to give up almost total future control of the entire property?”  The reverter clause does not change the question.  There is no guarantee the County will ask our position on everything and accept our vision, forever.    

Question # 2- Why, exactly, do you believe that the county park system will treat Oakwood any differently, or even equal to, the rest of the parks when there is no open space trust to tap? (The current tax expires in about 10 years)  

All residents need to read and listen carefully to all of the information you can find about the transaction and think long term.  Make up your own mind based on all of the facts.  If, as part of that process, you would like a copy of the proposed contract feel free to call me.    

Local desires require local discussion and local resolution – not selling future control of one of our few significant assets to another level of government that by design and mission will put the interests of New Providence first 2.7% of the time.   We will either own the park in the future or we won’t.