SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ – The final development agreement for Shackamaxon and the search for a new town manager dominated the conversation at Tuesday night’s council meeting.
Frank Regan, a lawyer involved in the agreement process, presented the final Redevelopment Agreement between NJ Golf Partners, LLC and the Township regarding the property on which Shackamaxon Golf Club is situated.
Under the agreement, there would be a five year deed restriction where the golf course would need to remain in operation. While the agreement had reached the council late last year, in light of the new council coming aboard in 2013, making a decision was deferred.
The current council has been involved in negotiating a greater commitment to complete an access road to Lambert’s Mill Road and brought forward the payment of a loan that was defaulted on by the previous owners.
“We are happy we have this engine back on the track,” said Mayor Kevin Glover. “The current balance of the loan is around $330,000. This was a loan co-signed by a prior council in 1999 and it was unsecured. Thankfully, under this agreement, the town is no longer on the hook for this loan.”
Councilman Marcus raised some questions in how several things were worded in the agreement, wanting to make sure that the five year deed restriction would stand no matter what, and that the repayment of the loan by the development company was iron clad.
It was proposed that the letter from NJ Golf Partners agreeing to repay the loan within 5 days of the closing of the agreement be officially incorporated into the document, which would also include a caveat to enforce the repayment.
Councilman Vastine said, “I think this will ultimately be a great thing for Scotch Plains, with the golf club remaining as a club - not only for the members, but for other residents with the opportunity for new revenue without being a burden on the school district. I am looking forward to this.”
Mayor Glover concluded the discussion with, “It took a long time to get here- a lot of patience and hard work. There is a time to review and a time to act, we have been through the review process for a long time. It is my intent to move this forward tonight. I don’t think tonight is a negotiation, I think it is time to move on. I would like to know how we can incorporate these clarifications so this can move forward.” The resolution was passed by a vote of 5-0.
The other major discussion item was the municipal manager recruitment. “The League of Municipalities have a very good overview of this process. It might be helpful for the entire council to review their guidelines,” said Deputy Mayor Colleen Gialanella.
Glover initially called for a deadline of April 11 for applications which was met with opposition and the objection that it was too soon, to which Glover replied that without a deadline, nothing gets done.
Councilman Marcus again took the opportunity to express his outrage at the “forced resignation” of Henry Underhill. “I think this is a crippling blow to our township administration. I don’t understand it, it’s political and this needs to stop. This is the worst decision I have seen on this council.”
When the meeting was opened up to comments from residents, Alexander Smith commented, “ We’ve been through four managers in five years - he is essentially the CEO of the town. We need a constant, non-political person in that role who will be here for many years.”
Glover called for participation from all parts of the community in helping to identify possible candidates for the position.
Tomorrow, look for other council items including a summary of Cultural Arts, an overview of 2013 Budget issues, Sewer Rates and the Special Improvement District.