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Mayor Subrizi Weighs In On Development of United Water Property

Mayor Subrizi lends her voice to the conversation provoked by the Riverkeeper's position on the development of the United Water Property.

Regarding the development of the United Water property, the question that no one seems to be asking is "What's best for New Milford and its residents?" As Mayor, that is the question I am charged to consider in this situation, and all matters, that affect our town. 

The Riverkeeper has offered an opinion on the fate of the United Water property that SOD disagrees with. No issue is without opposing opinions and SOD's response demonstrates that there is no room in the conversation for any voice other than their own. Since the property entered into a private sale contract with Hekemian, I have fielded many opinions from residents, many of whom tell me they want a Shop Rite and a field on that property, as long as there are no apartments that would burden the services and infrastructure of this town. Unfortunately, these people have not banded their voices together, and remain virtually silent as a group. Still, as Mayor, I hear them and I have to take their opinions into consideration. 

From the moment the United Water property became available to the town, there was never enough support to buy the property. It is well and good to say grants may be available, but that is no guarantee, especially with so many vying for the same grant money. Prior to Hekemian entering into a sale contract with United Water for purchase of the property, even New Milford's grants writer told us the purchase would require a “leap of faith.” 

The United Water property is not the first open space to come before the Mayor and Council and prior experience shows that being in the business of buying land is a gamble. A good example is to look at the Carlton Place lot. New Milford purchased that lot for $1.285 million (+interest) to keep it from being developed. We paid triple what the owner paid for it. We eventually got back $600,000 from grants. Was it worth it?  Look at it today. You decide. 

Using that property as a yardstick, had we purchased the United Water property for $8 million we would only be on the hook for $4 million. It’s no wonder there was no support to buy it….we simply can’t afford it.

The plan to re-zone was voted down 4 – 2. That idea is now off the table, as well.  There will be no property deeded back to the town, which could have been used as a field. Instead, the developer’s plan calls for 221 apartments to occupy that space.

Now the only avenue is to hope that the application, whether approved or denied by the Zoning Board of Adjustment, will ultimately be appealed to the courts. We will have to hope that the final decision will be more favorable to New Milford than it will be to the developer. It’s a roll of the dice.

What is best for New Milford and its’ residents? This is the question we should all be asking ourselves. I have no interest in helping or hurting Hekemian or the United Water Company. I thank the Riverkeeper for offering his opinion of the issue. 

Mayor Ann Subrizi

miriam pickett December 01, 2012 at 02:44 PM
A lot of noise here. To those of you who can't find anything wrong with this development, take a walk around the neighborhood. If you lived in proximity to this property, would you be so anxious to see it built? Then picture it when this gigantic market is plopped down in the middle of it. Now try to picture the high school letting out. Maybe the weather is bad and visibility is low. Parents are picking their kids up and the kids themselves are walking between cars. Tires screech, cars skid, trucks can't stop. Once you visualize this scenario which is only one of many, go down to Boro Hall and research the project the way many residents have. Then come to a BOA meeting and listen to the testimony. You'll be very surprised by the unfinished plans and unanswered questions coming out of the Hekemian camp. I would recommend Mayor Subrizi do some homework as well. She seems to be very misinformed about the scope of the project and its impact on all the residents of New Milford.
Rosemary Fuhrman December 01, 2012 at 08:18 PM
SOD’s members and supporters made a commitment early on in this process to do the due diligence required to get educated about all the issues swirling around this debate. As a result, we can speak from facts and research when we express concern about traffic volume near a school, the detrimental impact of increased class sizes if the schools get more overcrowded, the potential for increased flooding downstream if we indiscriminately build on one of the last parcels of open space, especially one so close to the watershed. Our intent is to share the results of our studies so the residents of New Milford can make informed decisions. I keep waiting for Mayor Subrizi to do the same kind of study and research and educate us about why she thinks this is a good deal for the citizens of New Milford. I do not agree with her opening premise that... no one seems to be asking is "What's best for New Milford and its residents?". Since SOD’s formation, that is all this group of dedicated residents has been doing. Mayor Subrizi: Please do not insult my intelligence any longer by continuing to state you only want what is best for New Milford. Prove it.
Michael J. Gadaleta December 01, 2012 at 08:45 PM
Carlton Place was a great decision . A very aggressive application was filed at the Planning Board for 30 -35 residential units in the Hirschfield Brook , with a history of flooding , north of Big Jim's in the woods on the east side of the Blvd . Residents objected and feared increased flooding, the Mayor and council, the planning board, .the environmental comm. , the residents, our grant writer , our legal team all worked together to make certain that this one piece of land WOULD NOT BE DEVELOPED . Elected officials were very vocal in their opposition to the proposal and vowed it would not proceed . It was a small , but successful accomplishment to preserve our open space . What a unique idea ! How many residents did not experience continual flooding because this land was preserved , is a better question ...
robin commerford December 30, 2012 at 11:00 PM
I couldn't agree any more with you Pat, and Madam Mayor. I think there is a lot of us NM taxpayers who don't have the energy and time to fight SOD or are afraid to voice their opinions. Why do SOD members think that a big old lot of weeds is better than having a taxable property in town? The fact of the matter is that the people that live in that neighborhood don't want anything built in their backyards. I get it. However, they have to force their opinions on the rest of us. I am wishing for an end to this and hoping for a happy and peaceful new year!

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