Government

Roselle Resident Questions Land Lease for Mind and Body Complex

Anthony Esposito, above, raised concerns about the Roselle Mind and Body Complex during the public comment portion of a Union County Freeholders meeting on July 20, 2017. Credits: Rebecca Panico
Anthony Esposito, above, raised concerns about the Roselle Mind and Body Complex at a Roselle Council meeting in July 2017. Credits: Rebecca Panico
Roselle Holds Ground Breaking Ceremony on Mind and Body Complex Project Credits: Kathy Lloyd
Roselle Mind and Body Complex

ELIZABETH, NJ - A Roselle resident says that the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders guaranteed $59 million in bonds for a project that may not have a proper land lease.

Anthony Esposito, who formerly served on the Roselle Board of Education, has retained a lawyer who is preparing to challenge what he says are financial issues in the land lease for the Roselle Mind and Body Complex. The project includes a new school, library and community center in the borough.

Esposito and other residents have raised concerns at previous borough council meetings and freeholders meetings about how much the project will cost taxpayers.

Sign Up for E-News

Michael Doran, Esposito’s lawyer, said he sent a letter around noon yesterday to County Counsel Robert Barry. The letter advised that the freeholders pull a scheduled special meeting vote regarding the issuance of bonds for the project until the land lease was looked into further.

“...[P]lease take note that should the County take any action regarding the issuance of bonds to fund this project, we will pursue all legal efforts to restrain the County’s action,” wrote Michael Doran in the letter that was obtained by TAP.

Yesterday’s special meeting vote -- which was slated to take place at 7 p.m. before the scheduled agenda-setting meeting -- was abruptly canceled just hours before it was supposed to take place. A county spokeswoman yesterday said the meeting was canceled "on advice of County Counsel."

Today, Union County spokeswoman Tina Casey declined to comment when asked if the county counsel received the letter from Esposito’s lawyer and whether the special meeting vote was canceled because of it.

THE LEASE AND FINANCING

In 2014, the Roselle Board of Education leased land on Chandler Avenue to the Roselle borough for the project. The lease stated the borough had to secure financing for the Mind and Body Complex by Dec. 31, 2015, otherwise the lease would be null and void.

But the borough apparently never obtained financing for the project before that date, Esposito says, which makes the land lease null and void.

The bonds, which will finance the project, were guaranteed in a September 2016 freeholders vote, which adopted an ordinance authorizing the Union County Improvement Authority (UCIA) to issue $59 million in bonds for the project.

Esposito’s lawyer called it “reckless” for the county to have guaranteed bonds in 2016 for the project after he says the lease had become null and void.

“To approve guaranteed financing for the Complex under such circumstances is at best reckless, and at worst voidable,” Moran wrote in a letter addressed to the county counsel.

MORE: View a copy of the leasepdf

The bonds have been guaranteed, but not issued yet, Freeholder Chairman Bruce Bergen told TAP after the agenda-setting meeting yesterday.

The freeholders’ special meeting vote yesterday was supposed to provide the consent of the freeholders for the Roselle Board of Education, the borough and the UCIA to move forward on the project, an official said.

This year, the Roselle Board of Education amended the original lease, extending the timeframe for the borough to obtain financing for the Mind and Body Complex to 2018. The Roselle Council adopted a similar resolution on July 12 at a council workshop meeting.

MORE: Read the full borough resolutionpdf

Roselle Borough Attorney Rachel Caruso and the county spokeswoman declined to comment when asked if the lease between the board of education and the borough was null and void.

THE FREEHOLDERS' MEETING LAST NIGHT

Many people did not hear that the special meeting vote was canceled yesterday. There was a nearly full-house in the meeting chambers last night with residents -- including Roselle Mayor Christine Dansereau --  who were prepared to voice their concerns about the project in the slated public comment portion.

Because the vote was canceled, there was no public comment portion.

Meanwhile, preliminary findings from the UCIA last year showed that the average home in Roselle could see a property tax increase of anywhere from $491 to $500 for the project. 

MORE: See the preliminary findingspdf

Roselle residents have said at previous freeholders meetings that if the borough defaults on paying the bonds back, that debt -- which will have incurred interest -- will have to be shouldered by all municipalities in Union County.

Bergen, the chairman of the board, said the only way that would happen is if Roselle went bankrupt. He said no municipality in New Jersey has ever gone bankrupt.

“The purpose of the county giving the [bond] guarantee is that it allows the project to borrow money based on the county's bond rating, which is more favorable than the borough's bond rating,” Bergen explained to TAP. “The county guarantee saves the [Roselle] taxpayers money because their project is borrowing at a lower interest rate than they can get without the county guarantee."

Bergen said the vote for the resolution that was slated for the special meeting "may or may not be" placed on the agenda at the freeholder's next regular meeting, which is scheduled for Aug. 17 in the County Administration building at 10 Elizabethtown Plaza.

 

TAPintoPlainfield.net is Plainfield’s free daily news source. Sign up for our daily eNews and follow us on Facebook and Twitter @PlainfieldTAP; on Instagram at @TAPintoPlainfield.

Download the TAPinto App!  Click here for Android.  Click here for iOS.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

Plainfield

Philly Fun with the Freewalkers

Jenn's Journey North took a southbound turn to Philadelphia. This past weekend was spent attending events that celebrated the East Coast Greenway, and it didn't hurt that the celebrations included some of my favorite Freewalkers, too.

The East Coast Greenway is the nation's longest biking and walking route.  Their River Relay is a 25th birthday party, with events running from ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_9d8e453cf3136a3d0129_rec_2017_hw_helper

Mon, October 23, 4:00 PM

Hannah Atkins Community Center, Plainfield

Homework Helper

Education

Mon, October 23, 7:00 PM

Plainfield Public Library, Room 4, Plainfield

Introduction to NaMoWriMo (National Novel Writing ...

Arts & Entertainment Education

Carousel_image_cf40dd8fe0e03ace463c_21752745_272567366594317_1892457096267685574_o

Mon, October 23, 7:00 PM

duCret School of Art, Plainfield

Plainfield Vision 2025: Connecting ...

Arts & Entertainment Government

Marilyn Steinberg Joins Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New Jersey Properties

October 23, 2017

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New Jersey Properties is proud to announce that Sales Associate Marilyn Steinberg, an industry veteran with more than 15 years’ real estate experience, has joined the company’s New Providence Office. 

 

“We are excited to have Marilyn join our team because she personifies the core values that we embrace as a company,” said ...

A Call for All Library Supporters to Vote "Yes" on Nov. 7

October 16, 2017

Dear Editor:

As a New Jersey resident and strong supporter of our local library, I urge all New Jersey citizens to vote “YES” on Tuesday, November 7 for the NJ Library Construction Bond Act, supporting libraries across NJ. 

Libraries are increasingly becoming the social hubs of our communities.  This act authorizes New Jersey to issue ...

Roxbury Cops Nab Serial Con-Man After Foot Chase in Kenvil

October 16, 2017

ROXBURY, NJ – A serial criminal, who convinced a 78-year-old Kenvil woman to give him more than $30,000 for roof repairs she didn’t get, was arrested last week by Roxbury police following a dramatic foot chase, police said.

The man, Sonny Stanley, 43, of Gutenberg, was charged with obstruction of the administration of law, resisting arrest and theft by deception, police ...

Want to Take Your Business Global? New Jersey Businesses Eligible for Grant Funding

October 11, 2017

Are you a New Jersey business owner who has already realized the potential of a global market or an entrepreneur seeking to increase sales and profit by taking your business worldwide? 

The New Jersey Business Action Center (BAC) has been awarded a $606,151 State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration to help New Jersey companies gain access to ...

Paying tribute to 'Shakespeare in Love'

Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey pays tribute to ‘Shakespeare in Love’

By Liz Keill

MADISON, NJ – Many audiences loved the film version of “Shakespeare in Love,” which won the best picture Academy Award in 1999, with dialogue by Marc Noonan and Tom Stoppard. Adapted by Lee Hall for the stage, much of the dialogue remains. The production has a warmth and ...

Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens by Eddie Izzard

Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death and Jazz Chickens by Eddie Izzard with Lauren Zigman

(Penguin Books, 2017)

 

Cake or death? If you are a fan of the British comic/actor Eddie Izzard, you probably own a teeshirt with a blue cupcake on it with one of Izzard's signature lines from his fabulous standup routines. To see Eddie Izzard in concert is an experience in hilarity that one ...