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Haddon Twp. OKs bond

from the Courier Post

HADDON TWP. ā€” Haddon Township approved an additional $3 million to purchase two properties for the planned redevelopment of the Dy-Dee tract.

During a Tuesday night meeting, commissioners unanimously voted to grant final approval to an ordinance authorizing the township to issue up to $3 million in bonds for the purchase of the last two properties needed for the redevelopment of the 8-acre site.

That’s how much the Haddon Avenue properties — an office building owned by Joseph Sulock and operated by his son and daughter and a parking lot — are expected to cost, Mayor Randall Teague said at the meeting.

The township has already spent $5 million, bonded during the previous administration, to purchase properties needed to make way for the mixed-use development.

Under an agreement between the township and Fieldstone Associates, the site’s redeveloper, Fieldstone eventually is to pay the township for the purchase of any properties in the redevelopment zone that envelops the site. So far, the company has paid only the interest due on the bonds, Teague said. The rest of the money is due when ownership of the properties is transferred to Fieldstone, Teague said.

Resident Tom Cassel questioned whether the township should spend a combined $8 million on the project and risk losing the money if the developer pulls out of the deal.

Teague said Fieldstone has no intention of pulling out of the project, but even if that were to happen, the township could still sell the site to a different developer. Even if the township were to sell the site to a different developer for less than $8 million, the township would still ultimately gain by having the site redeveloped, Teague said.

Teague did not discuss the purchase price for the two properties because a sales agreement had not yet been signed.

Last month, the township agreed to pay nearly $1 million for the two-story office building as part of the settlement of a lawsuit filed by Sulock several years ago. The lawsuit contended township officials had erred when they declared the building was blighted and thus could be acquired by eminent domain, or a court-ordered sale.

Fieldstone plans to build Towne Center at Haddon, a transit village development with more than 200 homes and retail space on an 8-acre site. The redevelopment zone includes the former site of the Dy-Dee Wash diaper laundry, which was demolished more than a year ago, along with several nearby properties.

The project is considered a transit village because of its proximity to mass transit, including the local PATCO station.

The redevelopment proposal ran into opposition from several property owners when it was first proposed in 2002 because, under New Jersey law, municipalities can use eminent domain to acquire properties in a redevelopment zone.

Over the years, many of the opponents agreed to sell, clearing the biggest hurdle for a redevelopment that is expected to revitalize the Westmont shopping district

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14 Responses

  1. So….

    Cassel is right-on here.
    For us the taxpayers to pony up millions to be lost if Fieldstone leaves is crazy. Once we pony up that money Fieldstone will know they have us by throat and who knows what further concessions we will be making.
    If this project is such a sure thing why doesn’t fieldstone risk their money and not the taxpayers?

    Seriously folks, this deal puts all the risk on the taxpayer — that’s crazy crazy crazy talk.

  2. any one notice the construction on the marquee at the westmont theater ???/

    • did not notice
      i wonder at what meeting did they discuss the construction plans? was it at the cacus meeting, commissioners meeting, or one of the secret meetings?

  3. kate burns, doug kelly, pete severino, ken landis from the haddon twp business improvement district board of directions would probably know what is happening at the westmont theater if the answer does not come from the commissioners

  4. there is an article on the last page of the retrospect it in conjunction wiht the new devloper to get the side walk open

    • I wonder at what public meeting the theater was discussed over the past year? Nobody seems to know much about what is going on.

      Remember when they current commissioners campaigned on clean open government platform?

  5. People are making too much of the Westmont Theater thing. I saw construction workers removing debri from the underside of the marquee. What is so wrong with that? Better to remove it than to have it maybe fall on someone walking to WaWa? If tyhe mayor called a big town meeting to let everyone know he was removing debri, people would chide him for not having just done it sooner.

  6. Yeah, it looked to me like they were taking some of the weight away to make it safer. Today, they had a big whole in the wall and were doing something with cinder blocks.

    • ahhhh don’t you all remember?

      Almost 2 years ago the big issue was that the theater was falling. When asked why the fence was up, Randy and Paul said it was for safety.

      Then they said the theater front was falling, and COULD NOT be saved for a reasonable sum of money. They stated (and I believe Fusco allegedly agreed according to the newspapers) that the theater front was in danger of falling, was too expensive to fix, and SHOULD BE CONSIDERED FOR REMOVAL. So apparently certain were they and fusco that the township published an advertisement requesting proposals to REMOVE the front of the theater. All of this while randy ‘secret meeting’ teague and paul ‘endless smirk’ dougherty professed to want to save the theater. It was all the subject of a front-page Retrospect article.

      The request for proposals to remove the theater front was exposed at a meeting. Randy was speechless, and it made for an interesting aproximate 5 mintues as he shuffled his papers, swigged his water bottle, and looked ill-informed.

      Then all activity on theater appeared to stop.
      And now…. with no public discussion, we have an about-face? No removal of theater front? What about fusco’s report? Was fusco wrong? was randy wrong? guess we won’t know…

      Did they have meeting to change their minds? was it a secret meeting? Or is someone just now calling the shots with no meetings and overruling whatever reports and statements fusco and randy made over the past 2 years?

      What is going on?
      Sorry to ask randy. We could ask at the meeting, but last time you were called out you threatened that citizen with arrest for being out of order. classy leadership!

      my theory:
      these guys have accomplished practically nothing over the past 2 years except hold fundraisers to get re-elected. Progress on DyDee (after randy’s photo-op on the backhoe) not much. Theater sat for 2 years with no change. Cost of living went up. Tax raises passed with their first buget. Promise of open government not even close. About to have court rule against them regarding illegal meeings. Shameless appointments of campaign donors. Their solicitor and campaign donor caught billing taxpayers more than 24 hours in a day and now on witness stand explaining it in court. Fieldstone a mess. Eminent domain has ruined families and businesses. Run for Tony event a mess and now we have “turkey trot” to raise money for THEIR (not township) 501c fund. Public access to tv channel limited. Raises for township employees while we the taxpayers suffer in a recession. One of the most historic trees in all of south jersey cut down for fieldstone. Flooding issues still not fixed. But they still had time to host fundraisers for their next campaign. This flurry of activity on the theater is probably an attempt to be able to say they did SOMETHING during their 1 term in office. Too little too late.

  7. NCW (Neighbors Celebrating the Westmont) – is this a nonprofit group?
    Next meeting of NCW, Thursday 10/23 – agenda – to form a nonprofit FOTW (Friends of the Westmont Theatre) – there appears to be a lot of nonprofit organizations in Haddon Township – who handles the filing to become a nonprofit for this project? Where does the money come from for the work now being done and the cost of filing for nonprofit status of the organization? I think I read that the elected commissioners of Haddon Township also have a nonprofit status? Sounds like a very interesting non-profit community.

  8. THE FOLLOWING WAS WRITTEN IN COURIER POST:

    Paul Kerth of Collingswood, who pleaded guilty this week to rigging bids for contracts with the New Jersey Department of Corrections and the Haddon Township school board.

    Kerth owns three alarm companies. In 2002 and 2003, he got other companies to submit higher “cover” bids for contract work with the Department of Corrections and the Haddon Township school board to make sure the lower bid from his one of his companies, Independent Alarm Distributors Inc., was selected.

    People like Kerth doing unethical, illegal things like this are one of the many reasons why our property taxes are so high in New Jersey.

    We’re glad Kerth’s plea bargain recommends up to 364 days in jail and paying $150,000 in restitution. Maybe other unethical company owners who rig bids will get the message.
    *******************************

    Isn’t there an administrator from the NJ Dept of Corrections on the Haddon Township school board?

    • the bid process is the elephant in the room
      for example:
      a company could in theory ‘lowball’ a bid and get the contract. then they could submit ‘change orders’ to the project to request more funding later. the engineer reviews the requests for more funding and presents to the commissioners.

      if the request for the ‘change order’ is approved than *ta daaa* that ‘lowball’ bid isnt so low anymore is it?

      that’s the problem in jersey.

  9. I am glad to see some of the theatre discussions. First, it is good that they are starting to stabilize the property from further deterioration. I just don’t understand why they didn’t do this a year ago. It is obvious from the pictures that the marquee will be these for a long time.

    Secondly, I have a hard time understanding why this was done without any public discussion during any of the public meetings. The fact that this was suddenly done and discussed in a private meeting with the mayor and a potential not for profit without any discussion at the public meeting is not the transparency that our town needs. My question is whether the first time that that Commissioners Foley and Dougherty found out about this is when they drove by or read the Retrospect Article. Honestly, the commissioners’ meetings have been more open over the last several months with more open discussions, but when things like this occur out of the blue, we should all continue to wonder what else is being discussed in private in violation of the Open Public Meetings Act. Maybe I am wrong, but this would have been easy to be part of the Engineer’s report and discussed openly in advance. You just don’t show up one day and do something like this without an open and transparent process.

    BTW, Kudos to the Neighbors Celebrating the Westmont for their efforts. I would highly suggest coming to the monthly Commission meetings and sharing all of your thoughts and concerns with the entire community.

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