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Bancroft Bankrolls One Haddonfield

With the sale of Bancroft hanging in the balance, the institution contributed $3,500 to a campaign to promote the sale.

Bancroft Neurohealth has provided 85 percent of the funding for a group that describes itself as "grassroots" and advocates in favor of the $16 million public acquisition and development of Bancroft's 19.2-acre property on Kings Highway East.

Bancroft, a center for the developmentally disabled and those with acquired brain injuries, gave $3,500 of One Haddonfield's $4,095 in contributions as of Dec. 27, according to a New Jersey Election Enforcement Commission filing.

One Haddonfield describes itself as "a grassroots organization of concerned residents who support the Bancroft land acquisition." Voters will ultimately decide if the deal goes through in a Jan. 22, $12.5 million bond referendum. The cost of the deal to taxpayers was reduced from $16 million with $3.5 million in open-space preservation funds from the borough, county and state.

Some opponents to the Bancroft public purchase say the Board of Education and the borough are paying too much for it. The Bancroft land was assessed at around $8 million in 2005 but a 2012 school-board assessment valued it at $15.1 million. Critics have argued the earlier assessment was in the height of the real estate market. The most recent assessment cites Bancroft's value as an institutional use and not a residential use, as the earlier assessment did.

Jack O'Malley, president of One Haddonfield, defended his group Wednesday against allegations of "shilling" for Bancroft.

"We knew that Bancroft's contribution would stand out in our first report," O'Malley said in a letter to the media. "But we also knew that our funding would become much broader once the campaign got under way. As future reports will show, financial support for One Haddonfield is growing broader by the day as more and more residents understand the proposal, reject the rumors, decide to vote 'yes' on Jan. 22 and contribute generously to our cause."

The "shilling" allegations came from a member of Haddonfield United, a rival group opposed to the sale that has grown out of a Facebook page.

O'Malley, 50, a salesman of over the counter health-care products, said he's a lifelong resident of Haddonfield and his ties to the community and commitment to the Bancroft purchase run deep.

"I'd like to think my credibility in town means something," he said. "I've been here my entire life, and my mother before me and my grandmother before her."

O'Malley said his group has about five active members and dozens of active supporters. He said Bancroft, which will be paid $12.2 million for its property if the referendum is passed, reached out to them.

Bancroft President Toni Pergolin said One Haddonfield reached out to them, but their goal is the same.

"One Haddonfield is a community-based organization that has been working hard to provide facts about the referendum so Haddonfield residents can make an informed decision," she said. "When they asked Bancroft to support their efforts, we were pleased to do so. This referendum will be decided by the residents of Haddonfield, and it is critical that they have the most accurate and complete information as they prepare to vote."

Proponents of the deal want to acquire the Bancroft property, which is adjacent to Haddonfield Memorial High School, for current and future school development and to preserve open space. Opponents have criticized the cost of the project and its impact on taxpayers and the inclusion of fund a $1 million artificial turf field in the project.

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Eric Johnson January 12, 2013 at 09:14 PM
Thanks. I just went to www.onehaddonfield.com and donated a small amount via paypal. I heard they raised close to $1300 in a few days from city taxpayers in small donations to help support the "yes" vote. They won't need Bancroft money anymore, the good people of Haddonfield showed up to make a difference! I also heard the green signs are free to a good home!
Eric Johnson January 12, 2013 at 10:17 PM
According to Jack O'Malley in a public letter. " We registered One Haddonfield with the NJ Election Law Enforcement Commission knowing that we would be required to file periodic public reports. We knew that Bancroft’s contribution would stand out in our first report. But we also knew that our funding would become much broader once the campaign got under way." Did you expect a personal e-mail from him? I've only recently moved to Haddonfield and Jack O'Malley is someone I have found to trust in my short time here. I myself am insulted that you, and some of your extremest friends, are using open forums to discredit good residents to achieve your goals. It is one thing to state facts...it is another to run a smear campaign. I have recently visited www.onehaddonfield.com to donate a small fee( from our family savings) and feel privileged to help him in his cause. I hope I am leading the way for others to follow to show our support to the real people of Haddonfield.
Joe Taxpayer January 13, 2013 at 12:52 AM
Dave, thanks for responding. Do you really think adding 20 homes requires the boro or BOE to add any expense? we don't need more police or DPW or classrooms to take care of the roads or protect them or teach them. It doesn't work like that. The average cost stats you used are just stats X/Y. If they were real, what would happen if a family of 15 moved into a rental, would taxes go up? If taxes are $25k per x 20, that's 500k. The school gets 55% or 275k. They have no added expense for 20 homes and can easily absorb the kids into the system. It's pure new tax revs for them to play with and use to offset the ever growing healthcare costs ($5.5m last yr).
Rick Muller January 14, 2013 at 06:06 PM
Joe, to answer your question "Do you really think adding 20 homes requires the boro or BOE to add any expense?" I think the answer is most likely yes. If excess High School and Middle school capacity is currently filled by tuition students at $11,000 a piece, how many would be displaced by new residents? Also, I am pretty sure that Tatem is already at capacity now, which would require moving kids to different schools. If additional elementary grade classes were required than that would either be an additional salary or a cut to something like language arts or music.
Joe Taxpayer January 14, 2013 at 06:36 PM
Rick, again it doesn't work like that. The cost per kid is an average. Next year if there are less kids and spending remains the same (we wish), the avg goes up or vice versa. What about other scenarios? What if all 20 homes had no kids, sent all their kids to private schools; every kid was 1 year old and would someday replace those graduating? What if today, a family of 20 moves into a home with 18 kids, do school taxes go up? It's just a stat so the state can pretend to compare districts. In 2010, there were 2452 students and today there are 2518. That's 66 new students, an avg of about 5 per grade and under your scenario , costs would have risen 660,000 from it at the average. However, costs today are 2m higher than they were in 11. 600K for heatlhcare and the rest mainly from salaries. What I cannot tell from the budget is if there are more staff or less.

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