Union County News

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

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 lease

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, Union County Clerk of the Board James Pelletiere 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 resolution

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 findings

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.

TAPintoElizabeth.net is Elizabeth’s free daily news source. Sign up for our daily eNews and follow us on Facebook and Twitter @TAPElizabeth.

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

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Like

Sign Up for E-News

Union

Union's 2017 Back to School Backpack & School Supply Drive

August 17, 2017

UNION, NJ – The school year is approaching fast and Union wants to help bridge the gap between what families can afford and what students need for their upcoming school year.

The Township has partnered with MLB Residential Lending, LLC for the 2017 Back to School Backpack & School Supply Drive. There are five collection bins around town and the Township is asking for school supply ...

The Week Ahead in Union

UNION, NJ - Happenings in Union this week:

Monday, 8/14

•Lego Summer Camp: Intro to STEM, 9:00 a.m., Union Recreation Department

•Shoprite Kid Cuisnie, 11:00 a.m., Union Public Library

•Tech Support, 1:00 p.m., Union Public Library

•Build a Better World: "Adult DIY: Homemade Wreath", 1:30 p.m., Vauxhall Public Library

•Lego Club: A-Maze-ing!, ...

August SID Meeting Cancelled

UNION, NJ – The Special Improvement District (SID) has cancelled their regularly scheduled meeting of the Board of Directors set for Tuesday, August 15.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Board of Directors will take place on Tuesday, September 19, at 8:30 a.m.

Questions can be directed to Fatimah Raymond, SID Director, at 908-851-5466 or fraymond@uniontownship.com.

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_7911781ed923686d2764_legos_1

Mon, August 21, 3:30 PM

Union Public Library, Union

Lego Club: Drop Test!

Arts & Entertainment

Carousel_image_39a0546aac4693e6c914_vauxhall_public_library

Mon, August 21, 5:00 PM

Vauxhall Public Library, Vauxhall

Color Yourself Happy: Adult Coloring Night

Arts & Entertainment

Carousel_image_74793f36b87841547841_toddler_time

Tue, August 22, 10:30 AM

Union Public Library, Union

Toddler Time

Arts & Entertainment Education

Janayah John of Union enrolls at James Madison University

August 17, 2017

HARRISONBURG, VA - Union resident, Janayah John, has enrolled at James Madison University for the fall 2017 semester. John's selected major isManagement - BBA

James Madison University offers each student a future of significance -- not an education of mere prestige, but an extraordinary education of exceptional scholarship, inventive thinking, unparalleled attention to the world community, ...

Roselle Resident Questions Land Lease for Mind and Body Complex

August 12, 2017

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 ...

Here's How Some Veterans Can Participate in New Free Parking Meter Program

UNION COUNTY, NJ — The County Clerk's office can help disabled veterans and Purple Heart recipients in the county obtain documents to participate in a new statewide program that exempts them from paying at parking meters.

County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi said veterans' identification cards and copies of DD-214 honorable discharge forms can be obtained for free at her office, ...

Public Assistance Sought in Locating Child Sex Assault Suspect

PLAINFIELD, NJ — Investigators are requesting assistance from the public in locating Walter Sosa, a Plainfield man wanted for the aggravated sexual assault of a child, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park announced Thursday.

Sosa, 33, a registered sex offender in neighboring Somerset County, is charged with first-degree aggravated sexual assault, second-degree sexual ...

S&P, Moody's Give Atlantic Health System Highest Health System Rating in NJ

August 18, 2017

MORRISTOWN, NJ - Atlantic Health System, a leading health care delivery system in New Jersey, is once again the highest-rated New Jersey based system rated by credit agencies Moody’s and S&P.

Moody’s raised its rating for the health care organization from A1 to Aa3, the highest rating among all health care systems in New Jersey, with an outlook of “stable.” The ...

Taking your nutrition to the MAX will get you the BEST results!

We totally believe that nutrition is 80% of all the results at happen at the MAX Challenge of Springfield/Union! That's why we incorporate a very easy to follow nutrition plan!  This plan is specifically designed to ensure that you will lose weight, get stronger, and feel great, all while getting to enjoy all of your favorite foods!  No time to cook?  No problem! ...

One Simple Step Can Guard against a New Phone Scam

There is no summer vacation for phone fraud, and the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders advises Union County residents to be aware of a new scam circulating around the country.

“The Social Security Administration has issued a warning about a caller who poses as an employee in order to extract social security numbers and other personal information,” said Freeholder Chairman ...

Goodwill Tour Travels to Colombia and Malta This November

33rd annual GOODWILL TOUR to Colombia and Malta is nearing –  lead by long time Union, NJ resident,  Roxan Chen!

Do yourselves a world of good while doing goodwill for the world, as experienced on a Santa Goodwill Tour!

Scores of American travelers from all over the US are eagerly counting the days until they embark on yet another Goodwill Tour of a lifetime – this ...

Columns

Revelations and Reunions Cause Ripples on Game of Thrones

In comparison to last Sunday’s mid-season episode, this week’s “Game of Thrones” was somewhat anticlimactic—but even still, there was never a dull moment.

Jon is the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. Although Sam ignored Gilly’s ramblings, she discovered a crucial fact among his growing pile of books: High Septon Maynard, under the Mad King’s reign, ...

Pancake is Looking for Forever Home

August 15, 2017

UNION, NJ - Say Hi to Pancake.

Pancake was found in a resident's backyard.  According to the Union Animal Shelter, he was most likely let go by his previous owner. The shelter is looking for his forever home.

The Union Animal Shelter is located at 980 Jefferson Avenue (behind Rt. 22 Home Depot).  They can be reached at 908-851-5230 ...

Important Reminder About Digging on Beach

August 9, 2017

LONG BEACH TOWNSHIP, NJ - The Long Beach Township Beach Patrol issued a note of warning on their Facebook page about digging large holes and ditches in the sand while visiting the shore.

 "You're here to relax and kick back,  leave the ditch digging to the pros. Usually out of view of lifeguards, we find a wild number of these projects when we are patrolling the ...

Letters to the Editor