SPRINGFIELD, NJ - The November 22 Township Committee meeting was a busy one for Thanksgiving week.  The first order of business was a discussion of the tax appeal filed by Baltusrol Golf Club and recent settlement. It was followed by steps taken to consider changing the Township’s form of government as well as an update on the Downtown Development projects and the Mountain Avenue bridge. Other items included the announcement that a proposal to install an ice rink by the Community Pool will take place at the next Township Committee meeting.

Baltusrol’s long standing tax appeal was recently settled out of Court. The appeal dates back to 2012.  Deputy Mayor Diane Stampoulos, Township Committee member Richard Huber, Township Administrator Ziad Shehady and the Township Tax Assessor Ed Galante met with the officials from the Golf Club and arrived at the settlement.

There was no change to the assessment for years 2012 and 2013. The assessment for 2014 was reduced from the original assessment of $22,802,900 to $20,802,900, a reduction of 8.8 percent.  For calendar year 2015 the assessed value was reduced from $22,463,900 to $20,463,900, a reduction of 8.9 percent. The reduction for 2016 was 13.3 percent and put the new assessed value at $19,541,900. The 2017 assessment is now set at $18,541,900. Citing the resolution, the assessed value for 2018, 2019 and 2020 shall be set at $18,041,900.  These are assessed and not the amount of property taxes paid.

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Mayor Jerry Fernandez stated about the settlement.” This has been going on since 2012.  Overall the town did well, I’m happy”. 

The financial implications of the settlement will be the subject of a later article. 

On other matters, a vote was taken to put a proposal on the November 2017 ballot changing the Charter of the Township and its form of government.  Township Committee member Huber dissented on the vote. He noted that “This has been done three times.  It has come out the same way three times. I vote no.”

Township Administrator Ziad Shehady announced that demolition tied to the Downtown Development project is about to begin. The first building will come down Friday.  It is on the corner of Caldwell and Morris. Three more will be demolished after that. Unfortunately, demolition of two of the larger buildings on Morris will be delayed due to power lines being too close to the buildings.  Before demolition the power lines need to be moved another five feet away. This could delay that part of the demolition until June.  Mr. Shehady stated, “This is a huge step forward for downtown development.  We are at a good point with developers.”

On other matters, Sam Mardini, Director of Engineering reported the Mountain Avenue bridge project is on schedule and should be finished by year end. He also said he is applying for a grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. These grants are only for projects benefitting low to moderate income residents. The grant he is applying calls for $48,000 in funding to replace 20 to 25 handicap ramps. He noted that despite funding decreasing over time, he has received $2 million in grant money for the Township of Springfield over the last 20 years.

Adam Lieb, Director of Recreation, will be starting the hiring process for 2017 in late December or early January for positions at the summer camp and the pool. There will be a discussion about a proposal to install an ice rink by the Community Pool at the next Township Committee meeting.

The Director of DPW, Robert Boettcher, said leaf collection is about half way done. Over 5,500 cubic yards of leaves have been collected. He recently completed a course with the students at Caldwell School on recycling. The program was called ”Talking Trash” and it was paid for by a Clean Communities Grant.