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Top 20 High Schools In New Jersey; Haddonfield Is …

Judgment Day: The Bancroft Referendum

Five things you need to know about the important vote today.

1. The $12.5 million referendum being decided today is for the public purchase of the 19.2-acre Bancroft property at 425 Kings Highway East. The Board of Education and the borough have entered into a joint purchase agreement "to seize the opportunity of acquiring this historic and prominent 'gateway into Haddonfield' for use by the community at large, for educational and recreational purposes, to allow for possible future school expansion and development of a high school campus, and to secure an open space legacy."

2. Opponents of the referendum say: "Supporters of the bond referendum may claim that the property tax increases will be ‘small,’ but our town’s middle-class residents and seniors on fixed incomes can't afford more we already pay twice the state average in property taxes, more than $12,000."

3. At the borrowing amount of $12.5 million dollars, discounting for grants or other sources of funds, and based on a 3.3 percent rate over 20 years, the average annual impact will be $189.00 on the average assessed value for a residential property of $491,345.00, according to the school board.

4. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Voting Locations

  • Tatem School, 1 Glover Ave (music room) Districts 2 &10
  • Middle School, Chestnut Ave (gym rear entrance) Districts 3 & 4
  • Elizabeth Haddon School, 501 W. Redman Ave.(art room) Districts 6 & 7
  • Middle School, Chestnut Avenue (gym rear entrance) Districts 1 & 5
  • Lutheran Church, 204 Wayne Avenue (parish hall) Districts 8 & 9

5. Haddon Patch will feature a live chat starting at 8 p.m. Tuesday with updates and chat on the Bancroft referendum. Haddon Patch will have live coverage of results when polls close at 9 p.m. Find out what happens here first.

Tom Kenny January 22, 2013 at 06:11 PM
Google Bancroft Neurohealth Sale, the first story that comes up is Bancroft saying that they are looking for and need a 35 acre site to operate and are actively looking for such a site. They also say that they have 500 employee's assigned to the Haddonfield campus, with 400 there at all times. That's a lot of traffic, and this is just their employees coming and going 24-7 not including the countless vans and buses from other townships. How much have they paid to our Borough for 130 years?? all through the mid 2000's our fire department was there just about every night, false alarm, did they pay anything for that? Time to go!
Mister Mike January 22, 2013 at 06:20 PM
PJ, I totally disagree with you on this & agree with JF Conway. That said, your proposed daily sacrifice to pay your annual $189 property tax increase is admirable.
Pro-Haddonfield January 22, 2013 at 06:34 PM
This has nothing to do with turf fields. When are you all going to recognize that this about so much more than that? The benefits will be more far reaching than just athletic.
Mister Mike January 22, 2013 at 06:37 PM
@ Susan Hoch. But, you too have no evidence that One Haddonfield members stole the "NO" signs and fliers supporting a "NO" vote. I agree with Pro-Haddonfiled as to the tone in your ongoing comments. You project a "Holier Than Thou" attitude. It may not be intentional, but you do. This is an objective statement from me as I don't belong to either group and have no dog in this race. While I've followed this issue here on Patch, I'm a Haddon Township resident. However, if I had a vote today after reading most every opinion people have had to offer, whether fact or rumor based, I would vote "NO" to this referendum. Whatever the outcome, my best wishes to my neighbors the residents of Haddonfield.
Mister Mike January 22, 2013 at 06:54 PM
The shame here lies with this couple is not voting, not with their plans to move once their kid graduates high school. There are many families that decide to move to a town and eventually from a town for varied reasons. I'm sure that a big one is when their kids all have graduated high school and they now have a empty nest that is larger than they need. Given the age of this couple, their child may not even be in school yet or in a early grade. Therefore, one way or the other as to the outcome of this referendum, they will be paying Haddonfield property taxes until they do move and not feeding off of the educational tax dollars of other Haddonfield residents. Besides, one couple's position doesn't make, "Haddonfield's "legacy" to be a scholastic revolving door and a transient population..."
Jack S January 22, 2013 at 07:31 PM
Nothing to do with turf fields? There's $1.2 million in the bond for a turf field. In fact, it's the third turf field that Haddonfield taxpayers are being asked to pay for. In terms of a "vision," the vision is blurry, because the plan is so vague it's a license to future politicians to build, build, build at more $, $, $.
Jack S January 22, 2013 at 07:33 PM
"Mismanaged" or "overdeveloped"? Are you aware that the school district is not subject to our zoning ordinances? And that the school district has so far secured only a fraction of the open space grants available for the property, because it wants to develop the property? I would be far more concerned about an unfettered school district than a private landowner subject to our zoning laws. After all, Bancroft hasn't had a lot of success expanding its institution over the past decades, has it?
Jack S January 22, 2013 at 07:37 PM
Westfield, NJ defeated a $12.9 million bond 3-1 this past September for turf and repairs. Westfield has a much higher income demographic than Haddonfield. The fact is that when someone says it's only $55 or $189, few actually believe that will turn out to be the case. Unless the school district plans on leaving the land fallow (which it clearly does not), $189 will soon turn into $500 or $1000 once ground is broken on their contemplated "educational campus."
Jack S January 22, 2013 at 07:40 PM
Who's "choice"? My family has lived here for decades. NJ didn't even have a state income tax prior to 1976. Perhaps it was your choice to move here, but please don't sermonize on what the choices of others. Same old same old, only "x cents" per day, but death by a thousand cuts is still death.
Jack S January 22, 2013 at 07:42 PM
Two words: Zoning laws.
Pro-Haddonfield January 22, 2013 at 07:44 PM
I don't see one word about a turf field in the referendum.
taxfreetrader January 22, 2013 at 08:11 PM
Lots of luck trying to "zone" out handicapped kids. Sure the courts will uphold Bancroft's ability to redevelop the property anyway that is reasonable. Then you can really be critical as you will have a huge amount of activity and traffic in that area with no benefits to existing residents. Taxes? This situation is a rarity that permits the residents to actually see their tax dollars at work. If the addition to the HS had not occurred in 1969, it is hard to envision that Haddonfield would have an operating HS now with just the old building. Forget a highly ranked HS, and any enhancement of property value due to desirability, we would be sending our students to a regional high school. If you don't approve of our elected officials, vote them out, run yourself, or find some that you believe can represent you better.
Joe Taxpayer January 22, 2013 at 08:20 PM
Now Jack S, if $189 pays for $12.5M, then $1000 would mean like $60M in borrowiing. I know you are trying to illustrate a point but try and be more realistic. Evesham is building a $5M complex of baseball/softball turf fields to go along with the current turf fields and the ones at Cherokee and Shawnee HS. http://www.southjerseylocalnews.com/articles/2013/01/03/medford_central_record/news/doc50e58c3cddab7429896726.txt 1 word for you. VARIANCE Zoning laws ALLOW for VARIANCES! Bancroft will get its variances. Guaranteed!
angela melzi January 22, 2013 at 08:36 PM
In addition, I would like to respond to claims by our BOE and other Bancroft bond supporters that if we do not expand the high school campus, we will be forced to consolidate/regionalize. Consolidation/regionalization is NOT inevitable. Both sending and receiving districts MUST VOTE in a referendum. Who would vote for a measure that would actually increase the cost of education and bring with it considerable negative consequences? One big negative to regionalization is that it means a change from being a walking district to busing (a district, by law, must bus ALL students if it buses any of them). In the neighborhood vs. grade level schools debate in the late 1990s, the district learned that the cost of busing was so significant that it prohibited the change from neighborhood schools to grade-level schools (which would have required busing due to student distances from their schools). Our BOE recently said they could not afford the cost of even one additional bus to take students to after-school practices at fields in town. Another source of significant increased costs is that regionalization requires raising the salary scales of the lower-paid district to that of the higher-paid district. Remember that our district actually had to cut a number of staff positions in spring 2010 because of budget cuts. Finally, consider the multimillions to build new buildings and/or additions to accommodate a sending district--one new school costs about $40 million
Maryann Campling January 22, 2013 at 08:52 PM
TFT: I feel that I am at somewhat of a disadvantage....since you KNOW my name; the 57 cents/day argument is compelling, but just doesn't hold water. The issue, as I see it, isn't $189 per annum, but the vague, ambiguous development costs, an issue that has been conveniently side stepped by the BOE. What exactly are the development plans and what impact will they have on our already crushing tax burden? I just don't get the "we have to buy it now, and we'll worry about that later" attitude...it just makes no sense to me. I also know that a couple of our elected official's philosophy is "if they can't afford to live here...then move" and I know that, unfortunately some of our residents share that thought. That kind of elitist, insensitive attitude should disturb everyone. Folks work hard to maintain their homes and have a decent quality of life....they shouldn't have the blade of unknown taxes hanging over their heads.
taxfreetrader January 22, 2013 at 09:08 PM
Maryann, you are right, no one should feel that they are unwelcome or that the community is elitist. It would disturb me also to have any attitude implied that if you can afford it..move. From my knowledge of the community, this is not the case and in my experience the residents have gone to great lengths to take care of those in need either financially or in other ways. I don't think there are any immediate development plans for the property other than making it part of the inventory of space available for the Borough and BOE. Any additional monies will require voter approval unless i missed something? The referendum is for approx. $12 mil? From my perspective this is something that should be done to assure that in the future the opportunity to utilize this property is at the discretion of Haddonfield residents. There are so many potential uses many of which would require no government funding. Maybe I am missing something but in this case in particular an opportunity lost is equivalent to a realized loss. Only difference is that it is the future generations that will regret the loss.
Jeremiah Wright January 22, 2013 at 09:16 PM
Whatever happened to liberals lecturing us about "Sustainability"? "To live simply while others may simply live"? To "reduce, re-use, recycle"? Here we have an opportunity as a community to walk the walk - to live within our means - to re-use/recycle (repair) our existing facilities which have admirably served the community for generations and have churned out best educated kids in South Jersey, but apparently this isn't good enough. They want more more more. If taxes in this town continue to skyrocket, together with the inevitable federal tax increases associated with supporting Obama's Cloward-Piven spending the country into oblivion strategy - this town - this country - will soon be toast. Count. On. It.
Susan Hoch MD January 22, 2013 at 09:23 PM
Yes, you are missing something. First, the Board of Real Estate is not subject to the zoning issues. It can sell any part of the property to anyone it wishes. Since less than 4 acres are to be committed open space (and they are primarily wetlands and steep slopes), Steve Weinstein can do whatever he wants with this property that we the taxpayers will be paying for. So, in fact, Haddonfield residents will have little input into what he does. Don't you wonder why the Board did not apply for the additional funds to protect more of the property as open space? Maybe because that was not in their plans. Many of us believe that if the referendum passes, Radnor Field which has been allowed by the same Board to deteriorate will be sold for affordable housing. That will remove the only accessible open space in the 8th and 9th districts. And no the residents will have no input into that decision as well. If the referendum is defeated, the Borough has plenty of options. It could take some of the Bancroft property by eminent domain or buy a small portion, perhaps the land between the high school and Hancock Lane. That would give the high school potential land to expand or build a new high school (cost of a new high school is easily $40,000,000) but they would have to have another bond referendum to do this. Yes, you are indeed missing something.
Mike McCready January 22, 2013 at 09:42 PM
I have to say, I really have mixed emotions about this. As "J" said above, I just wish there was a plan in place. It just seems like the only opportunity lost here was for our commissioners to have presented a real plan. Asking us to cough up $12.5m for what is essentially a turf field and a parking lot is pretty ballsy.
Jeremiah Wright January 22, 2013 at 09:43 PM
Worth repeating because we all know - pro/con - the following to be true: "Unless the school district plans on leaving the land fallow (which it clearly does not), $189 will soon turn into $500 or $1000 once ground is broken on their contemplated "educational campus."
Tom Kenny January 22, 2013 at 09:43 PM
Well said Taxfreetrader! For the record, Maryann is the one of the kindest & caring residents that we have in our community and I am proud to call a friend and neighbor! Keep swinging Maryann!! Tom
Joe Taxpayer January 22, 2013 at 10:00 PM
Sue, you wrote "Many of us believe that if the referendum passes, Radnor Field which has been allowed by the same Board to deteriorate will be sold for affordable housing." based on what? Rumors? Fears? Deteriorate? I guess but it is unclear to me where the money to properly maintain it comes from? I keep seeing comments made about doing more but no one wants to pay more. Assuming affordable housing is forced upon us, where would it go? Are you against affordable housing in general or just at Radnor? It is not clear to me what our options are to meet the obligation since there is no inventory of land.
Susan Hoch MD January 22, 2013 at 10:08 PM
Response to Joe T. Re Radnor Field, John Stokes asked Chairman of the Board of Real Estate Steve Weinstein to state publically that Radnor Field would not be sold if the referendum passes. He declined. Regarding maintenance at Radnor, you are correct that the Board has no money for maintenance. Their own architect estimated last year that they need $28 million just to maintain the existing school structures. I have not seen an estimate for maintenance of current athletic fields. It is fair to say that maintenance has not been a priority of the board. If it had, we might have seen a Referendum to pay for maintenance. The issues regarding affordable housing and Radnor are complex. I live in the Radnor neighborhood and it is the only accessible open space in this part of town. Over the past ten years, we have tried to get Ed Borden and TAPS to consider how we could link to the Park so that citizens don't have to walk down Coles Mill Road or even Grove - no sidewalks at the end - to reach the park system. We have a terrible traffic problem in this part of town. In the last traffic study on Coles Mill, 28,000 cars went from Grove to Utica in one week and we can't even get a crosswalk or a stop sign. So no, we don't want to lose our only open space in this part of town and we don't want to increase our already burdensome traffic.
Joe Taxpayer January 22, 2013 at 10:18 PM
Sue, is it possible that the answer is if we need to build affordable housing, we need land someplace and maybe, unfortunately, Radnor fits that need unless other options can be found at great expense. The $28M is a wish list same as the boro's capital plan which included the $2M for a new library. How much of that is absolutely necessary is something we all need to know. A referendum to pay for maintenance. you may want to check the referenda laws I don't think that one applies. They can certainly raise the open space tax and dedicate the increase for maintenance or raise it and pay more for the turf field. BUT, it's still a tax increase so that's probably not gonna work. Don't get me wrong, I don't want Radnor developed or housing built that we have to subsidize but if it is forced on us, then we have few options. How much of what you discussed could we get the county to do for us? They do get 26% of our taxes. What is our ROI on county tax money?
taxfreetrader January 22, 2013 at 10:51 PM
Sue, Obviously you have given a lot of thought to the issues. You speak as someone informed. I have a difficult time buying into the "conspiracy" theory. If protection of Radnor as an open space and recreational venue why do the residents object to having it lighted and developed into a better multipurpose complex? What about the situation of vandalism supposedly caused by a local resident of group? Ruined locks, damaged equipment, etc. Many different groups other than just the high school teams could utilize the complex and I know factually that they would provide needed funds to maintain and improve the facility. The message has always been that you are not welcome at Radnor. The BOE and sports teams are tolerated. This probably isn't indicative of every resident in the area but yes the vocal minority seem to have it their way.
Susan Hoch MD January 22, 2013 at 11:01 PM
Actually, we do "Zone" our Haddonfield's special needs kids. They are bused out of district rather than having the school bear the cost here. It may actually cost more to send them out. I have not seen a discussion anywhere on this but would like to see this. I have spoken to several parents of special needs children while calling for Haddonfield United. My sense is that some want their children mainstreamed and some don't because they do not want their children to be a target of teasing and bullying and to feel badly about themselves. I would like to see the Board of Real Estate discuss this, rather than their real estate transactions.
Susan Hoch MD January 22, 2013 at 11:06 PM
I can't speak for all Radnor residents but the ones I know support improved lighting and maintenance. The tennis courts that my son and I played on in the 90's were allowed to deteriorate and were not maintained. The "vandals" were the Board of Education. I don't buy the vandal argument unless it is the "goofy kids" or drunk kids that vandalize other things in this town - defecate in pianos etc, steal lawn signs and fliers. I almost think that the Board of Real Estate or others in this town put out this spin that "you are not welcome at Radnor" to make the town more accepting when they sell the field. I for one would support improvements to Radnor including a playground for young children and maybe even bringing back the tennis courts since there are no other tennis courts in this part of town.
Citizenman January 22, 2013 at 11:09 PM
I'm concerned that future costs, and we all know that they are coming, will force me to leave the town I love. Also, the people in the Radnor field area might be getting new neighbors as developers offer sweet financial incentives to the borough so they can make some nice profits.
taxfreetrader January 22, 2013 at 11:24 PM
It has been informative to see all these various opinions expressed today, the recurring theme seems to have some common threads. All want to preserve the quality of life in this town. There are fears of out of control taxes which given the current experiences with state and federal government are not unfounded. Whatever the outcome hopefully the enthusiasm to express ideas will provide a direction that will enhance the future while not creating hardship or destroying what we presently enjoy. The best situation for concerned Radnor residents is to embrace improvement of those fields. Lighting the varsity baseball field would provide essential usage and assure that the property always remain open space. I hear you "citizenman" and if I have a vote, you will be staying in this town. Those of us that want to pursue and improve the future won't allow those like yourself who helped get us here to be forced out. Let's balance the interests and give everyone a portion of what they want?
Mister Mike January 22, 2013 at 11:35 PM
Unfortunately, any more it's not the developers offering sweet financial incentives to towns, but the exact opposite. The developers get PILOT's and make their nice profits, too. And, the PILOT screws over the towns' BOE as none of the PILOT money goes to it.

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