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Officials Meet in Trenton for Bancroft Bucks

Open-space funds are sought.

Borough Administrator Sharon McCullough met in Trenton on Tuesday with state officials to plot the next step in securing open-space grant money for the Bancroft public purchase.

McCullough said she and appraiser, Harry Renwick, opened talks on how to plot the amount of open-space that will be part of the 19-acre Bancroft purchase. Renwick will need to do additional work on the appraisal for which the school board hired him. 

Borough officials have said they have at least $3.5 million in open-space grants and tax funds for the $16 million Bancroft purchase. But the borough will need to submit a detailed appraisal to the state outlining exactly where the open-space will be on the property, McCullough said.

The Haddonfield BOE and the borough have agreed to buy the property for $12.2 million, part of a $12.5 million purchase and development bond referendum on the ballot in January. Plans include the construction of a new artificial-turf field, securing land for future school development and carving out nature trails on open space. The land is adjacent to Haddonfield Memorial High School on Kings Highway East.

Renwick's BOE appraisal values the property at $15.1 million, nearly twice the $8 million value of a 2005 appraisal.

Board President Steve Weinstein said the increase in value of the property was justified because of a difference in zoning of the property now than in 2005, and a higher demand for institutional property acquisition and development. The 2005 appraisal limited the use to half-acre lots and a limited number of houses.

Last week, the board slashed $4.3 million off of a $16.8 million purchase and development plan rolled out over the summer. The cuts were made possible by the $3.5 million in open-space money and by eliminating $800,000 to install artificial turf at the high school football stadium.

The field will be paid for by a public-private partnership. Local residents raised $600,000 toward the $1 million cost of the high-school field resurfacing and the installation of turf on an adjacent field owned by the borough. The borough and BOE will pay the difference.

McCullough said a third appraisal will be needed to secure Camden County open space money, but Renwick may be barred legally from doing it. The county money, up to $1.6 million is part of the $3.5 million total in open-space money.

Renwick's fee for the appraisals were not immediately reported.

Bob DeFeo December 05, 2012 at 08:15 PM
This is disgraceful....absolutely disgraceful! Where was Jeff Kasko? Was he in the meeting? Jeff Kasko works for the state, is part of the state party and has also held other partisan jobs. Is Jeff Kasko setting up these meetings? Is Jeff Kasko influence peddling too much? Where was Jeff Kasko when this meeting took place, and what, if any role did he play?
Jack S December 05, 2012 at 08:29 PM
If the bond language has to be finalized by December 13th, why did our school board and other officials wait until the last minute to seek additional grant moneys. Did the dog eat the homework? If these additional commitments are not in place by December 13th, the voters on the Bancroft bond will have few if any guarantees that the grants will be applied to the purchase price. And some parties may have an incentive not to apply additional grants to the purchase price if they prefer those portions of the property to be developed as opposed to subject to open space stipulations.
Jack S December 05, 2012 at 09:37 PM
For the record, the photo above does NOT reflect the school board's plan for Bancroft. The big area in green is NOT currently designated as entirely green space. All along, the borough and school board have envisioned that space for mixed use, i.e., open space, school buildings, affordable housing, etc. The photo above is a photo-shopped image being circulated by some supporters of the bond who want to create the misimpression that the area in green will be dedicated entirely to open space and not in part to development at additional millions. The school board's website has the correct photo with the various contemplated uses.
Maryann Campling December 05, 2012 at 09:58 PM
Jack S. Why does the school board wait until the last minute to do anything?....smoke and mirrors! Thanks for pointing out the doctored photo...I will check out the board's website.
Joe Taxpayer December 05, 2012 at 10:17 PM
If patch uses an incorrect picture, who is responsible for the "smoke and mirrors"? Is it really "doctored" or just the wrong picture? Too much CSI??? Should we call in H to solve the crime? Today is Dec 5. Wouldn't Dec 12 be last minute? Let's see 7 days x 24 hours x 60 minutes per equals 10,080 minutes. We have 10k plus more until it's last minute you guys have some good questions now and then but then you add in this theatrical BS. Stick to the issues and not the personal attacks and stuff designed to stir the pot. Or you could run for the BOE and then we can all attack you next few years. That would be swell too.
Jeremiah Wright December 05, 2012 at 10:18 PM
"securing land for future school development " Oh great - so we can expect stil more costs down the road for additional wholly unnecessary buildings to compliment the already bloated amount of school infrastructure in town. Sure - whatever - its all for the children!
Bob DeFeo December 05, 2012 at 10:21 PM
Why is the school board silent on this? I would like to know which school board members have voted in the past for a tax increase. BOE is now nearly $20 million in debt despite year after year of tax increases. Is there anybody on the board who will defend common sense? THE EASY THING TO DO is to take on more debt.
Bob DeFeo December 05, 2012 at 10:32 PM
@JoeTaxpayer, somebody is getting testy! Also when dealing with government and public discussions and tens of millions of dollars, yes anything less than 30 days is "last minute".
Jeff H December 05, 2012 at 10:59 PM
WHERE IS THE BUSINESS PLAN? DON'T TELL ME 'I NEED $19 MILLION NOW' AND THEN TWO YEARS FROM NOW TELL ME YOU NEED MORE MONEY. GIVE US THE WHOLE PLAN NOW! JTP, WHERE IS THE DOCUMENT? SHOW, DON'T TELL!
PJ December 06, 2012 at 01:42 AM
Just so we're clear, institutional land that could be taxed is being acquired by a governmental agency whose job is to educate so that a majority of the property can be used as open space, none of which land will result in revenue. Right. Good. Clear. You certainly get what you ask for in Haddonfield. By the way, is anyone aware of how many of the board members were actually elected? So many of them were hand picked by the board to fill empty seats after resignations that this board is nothing more than a rubber stamp since most incumbents are just reelected. There is no internal debate.
Jack S December 06, 2012 at 03:44 AM
Joe, one doesn't need "CSI," but rather only a good memory. You can go back and look at the reader postings to Patch's Bancroft articles from last week. In one of those postings, a reader said that he had uploaded the picture above onto Patch by "mistake" and that it had populated to the banner. I can't speak to why the Patch continues to run that photo in its banner, but any photo that purports to show the whole right-hand side of Bancroft as green/open space does not reflect the school board's plans. For comparison, I just posted above the school board's official photo reflecting what the powers have stated to date are their plans for the property.
Jack S December 06, 2012 at 04:21 AM
The $15.1 million Renwick appraisal is erroneous. It presumes an expanded institutional use of the property that is not legally permitted absent variance, which Haddonfield is not legally obligated to grant. The alternate Renwick appraisal values the property at just $6.5 million based on permitted uses. It appears that the BoE believes that if you say $15.1 million often enough people will just accept it.
Bob DeFeo December 06, 2012 at 08:28 AM
The members on the Haddonfield BOE are stooges....all of them and its time people start paying attention. The newest member Maureen didn't even have a challenger. And let's talk about this 3 person board that runs the town. It's nothing more than a click, a connect click beholden to powerful political players. The school board members, all of them, are in over their heads, way over their heads. Either that or the public is not getting the full story. And Jeff Kasko wasn't even born or raised in Haddonfield, he is a transplant from North Jersey. How did Jeff Kasko get a state job? Why does he sit on the elite board as a state republican committeeman? What other jobs has Jeff held in addition to working for the town, the state and the republican party? This whole deal stinks like a rotten fish, and all of these people involved, just like PJ said, are rubber stampers who think they belong to a social club. None of them are leaders, none of them!
Joe Taxpayer December 06, 2012 at 01:31 PM
Jack S - thanks but that's not the same as "smoke and mirrors" or "doctored" Patch could have easily corrected the pic. Thanks for the correct pic. Bobby D - anything less than 30 days isn't last minute just ask the dipsticks in Washington and the idiot in charge named Barry.
Joe Taxpayer December 06, 2012 at 01:39 PM
Jack S are you a licensed appraiser? Skilled in the art of assessing the value of assets? A land use attorney? A financial expert? What credentials do you have to call into question Renwick's appraisal? Are you on the zoning committee? Did yuo work in your fathers appraisal company growing up? "Not legally obligated"? That means it is legal and CAN BE approved which means the value is higher for that use. If I have to decide between your what ifs and Renwick's professional skills and reputation in NJ, I am going to go with Renwick. Let me point out again that the town assesses the value at $12.2 million. This is an official tax appraised value for boro, county and state use. I would also defer to our tax assessors valuation over yours. He does this for a living.
Joe Taxpayer December 06, 2012 at 02:49 PM
What's the matter can't you and others stand to have your false accusations and lies called into question? Anyone can make up stuff and claim it to be true. The good news is that is why we have documentation and evidence to rely on. I am not the one claiming to be the expert but since you asked, I have a degree in engineering and Masters in Finance. I have 30+ years of financial management expertise for a PE company. Business and asset valuations and financials are my specialty. Did you want to debate any of the real issues or facts or just pump your chest with silly posts? Want to discuss the town's budgets or financials? How about the BOE's?
Haddonfield Watcher December 06, 2012 at 03:03 PM
Whoa. Getting too personal. Let's stick to debating facts and the pros/cons of this proposal.
Haddonfield Watcher December 06, 2012 at 03:11 PM
You appear to have an obsessive, hyperactive, and/or jealous concern with Kasko. It's way over the top. What gives? Since state green acres grant money *might* be used at the Bancroft site, our borough administrator and the appraiser have to go up and explain (probably to DEP or Green Acres officials) what they plan to do with the money. Makes sense to the rest of us in the normal world. So why the attack on Kasko, who probably knew about this meeting, which had nothing to do with influence-peddling or party politics? Your personal attacks make you look obsessed and delusional. Get a life.
Haddonfield Watcher December 06, 2012 at 03:18 PM
Re: DeFeo's comment below. Calling BOE members and commissioners names and questioning their motivation is so easy to do here online, isn't it? Are you a Haddonfield resident, "born and raised" here? Why don't you run for BOE or commissioner, since you don't think any of them are leaders? Have you ever gone to a meeting or personally called any of them with your concerns? I have (including the mayor, commissioner Kasko and BOE pres Winestien) and they always get back to me in a thoughful manner. They spend a lot of hours, volunteering their time, on town matters, missing family events and other pursuits. I thank them for serving the residents of this town.
Haddonfield Watcher December 06, 2012 at 03:22 PM
Good point. All possible sources of funding should be secured before setting the amount to go on the ballot.
Sam December 06, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Getting kind of personal, aren't you?
Haddonfield Watcher December 06, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Joe Earheart usually has common sense on BOE fiscal matters. He did speak up about the referendum amount and shows more willingness to question the BOE president than the others. And you are right, DeFeo, taking on debt is the easy thing to do and anything less than 30 days is last minute. You are absolutely correct. There is something fishy about the last-minute running around and changes being made for a mid-winter referendum - stuff that should have been settled by now or pushing the vote to a later date.
PJ December 06, 2012 at 03:54 PM
"Are you a Haddonfield resident, 'born and raised' here?" Haddonfield Watcher: You are a snob. Take a look around you. This is not India in the 1800's. If you were born and raised in Haddonfield you are not a twice born Brahmin and those who move in to town are not Untouchables. The Haddonfield tax office does not value long term residents' money any more than recent arrivals. But thanks for showing your true colors.
Haddonfield Watcher December 06, 2012 at 04:27 PM
That's the point I'm making, too. Part of the "born and raised" question was put in quotations because it was repeating what DeFeo said. My husband and many others who pay taxes in this town were not born here or raised here. That doesn't matter - they have every right to run and serve in office. Where does it say that you have to be a natural-born Haddonfielder to serve as commissioner? That's crazy.
Sam December 06, 2012 at 04:40 PM
PJ U might want to reread Haddonfield Watchers comments. you guys are both agreeing. it's Bob Fei that attacked the commish for being an outsider. this is all so confusing even i'm getting confused who said what!!!! Joe Taxpayer, Jack S, Haddonfield Watcher etc., can't keep em straight!!!
PJ December 06, 2012 at 04:51 PM
yeah, sorry about that!
Roland W December 06, 2012 at 04:53 PM
Joe Taxpayer, Are you on the zoning board? It doesn't take a whiz to figure out the people behind this deal got their own gig going on. So you worked in a family appraisal business growing up. I bet your Pop would be sharp enough to figure out what you can't. Unless he was involved in this Bancroft deal. Or you are.
Joe Taxpayer December 06, 2012 at 06:26 PM
Why yes I am! How did you guess? Nah, just kiddin.....I respect the volunteers who do but it's not my cup of tea. Roland, I didn't say I was in a family appraisal biz. Rather I asked Jack S if he grew up in one. It was my attempt at bringing My Cousin Vinny into the mix and some levity. Remember the scene where the Prosecutor questions Marisa Tomei about what makes her an expert witness to try and disqualify her....she says her dad was a mechanic, her uncle was, her brothers..... great movie! Let me add I think there are a lot of good questions raised on here in between the various made up stuff and personal attacks that need answers but I will stop short at insulting our BOE and Commish for doing the best they can in their volunteer jobs. They should consider investing a few bucks in some PR incl documents to share. As for now, we have an official tax assessor who says its worth $12M and an expert appraiser saying its worth something else.
Brian Kelly December 06, 2012 at 10:26 PM
Joe, Our official tax assessor is overpaying at least 4 million. When Bancroft was assessed at the height of the market 2005 at 6 1/2 to 8 million and is now assessed at 12.2 million in a depressed market something is wrong. We can go back and forth on the validity of the assessment. The residents will make the final judgement.
PJ December 09, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Radnor field will be sold by the BOE to developers. Is anyone paying attention?

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