ELIZABETH, NJ – It’s back to the drawing board for the controversial Roselle Mind and Body Complex as the Union County freeholders this week pulled a plan to fund a big piece of the project.
In their final meeting of the year, the freeholders removed from consideration the second reading of an ordinance that would have guaranteed the Roselle Board of Education’s portion of the bonding for the project.
On its website, the county said the ordinance, introduced Dec. 7, was removed from the Thursday meeting agenda “and subsequently, will not be considered for final reading and adoption.”
The proposed county ordinance would have authorized “the guaranty of the payment of the principal of and interest” on up to $24 million.
The board’s decision came on the heels of a court ruling last week in favor of continuing a lawsuit opposing the project. The lawsuit was filed by Roselle resident Anthony Esposito, Roselle, the Roselle school board, the county and others.
At the meeting, Roselle resident Brandon Bernier spoke to the freeholders. “What we have been asking for, imploring this board to do, was to look at the situation and realize Roselle needs to go back to the drawing board,” Bernier said.
He said the litigation provides time for the project to receive further analysis.
“Pulling this ordinance back gives us time to do that,” he added. “I’m sitting here thinking that Roselle really needs to work on itself a little bit right now, to go back and figure things out at home. And once we clarify what our community needs exactly and what we can afford to build, then I think we will be in a much better place to possibly come back if we need the county’s help at that point.”
Also stepping up to speak was Roselle Councilwoman-elect Denise Wilkerson, who asked, “Can we be assured that nothing will move against the project from this point forth?
Union County Freeholder Bruce Bergen said, “Technically, with the New Year coming and the new board being sworn in, the ordinance that was introduced will die for having not been passed. So there will be nothing pending there.”
In fact, Bergen said, the freeholders “do have a plan to revoke the ordinance passed earlier in the year guaranteeing the other side of the project.”
Freeholder Chris Hudak said the project “is not going to happen,” adding he was not happy about that.
“As a neighbor, a neighboring town, that's something I’m very disappointed about, because I was really hoping to see Roselle get that done,” Hudak said. “But you know what? That project needs to go back to the drawing board. You are absolutely right, there are a lot of questions about the project, so I hope both the board of education and the borough move forward in a manner to build a consensus on their project."
Editors Note: Freeholder Hudak added clarification to his comment. "The disappointment I expressed last night was that the school portion of the project was not moving forward."
The $59 million project would include a new school, a community center, a library and more. To read more about this project, see these stories.
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