Ramp proposal package smells like ‘pork’

This letter is in reference to the opposition to Garden State Parkway ramp changes expressed by some members of the Sayreville Borough Council at the July 2 council meeting.

As Paul Harvey often said, "And here’s the rest of the story."

I believe the rough definition of "pork barrel" is when you take a good bill and attach strings to it. Tell me if this isn’t a pork barrel story.

Why must three separate and distinct proposals on entrance and exit ramps to the Garden State Parkway be tied into one package? If the 427-acre National Lead (NL) Industries site is to be developed (within the next 10 years) into a stadium, marina, hotel and whatever, it will have an entrance and exit to the Parkway as part of the project.

Does Mayor Kennedy O’Brien want us to become familiar with the exit 10 years before the property is developed? If we don’t even own the redevelopment area, enhancing its value by $100 million would cost the taxpayers of Sayreville that much more to acquire the land. Also, if they want to build the interchange now, no one was really against it. They can also build a ramp into the ocean for a future bridge to Europe for all we care.

The Parkway Authority also planned a new interchange, Exit 124, near Kennedy Drive. I believe this is part of the NL issue, but is misstated. What is planned for the present interchange at Exit 124 onto Main Street?

Another part of the package was to add an additional lane to the entrance and exit at Interchange 123. The only opposition to this proposal was from a homeowner whose property will be directly impacted by this expansion. Adding additional lanes at these locations is like enlarging a pipe before a clog. The only purpose it will serve is storage for more cars waiting for the frequent blockages to open across the river. Again, most at the meeting felt that if the Parkway Authority wanted this, it could go ahead and knock itself out.

The final part of the package, which has a distinct smell of pork, was to add an interchange on Ernston Road next to a nursing home and an elementary school. Possibly, Mayor O’Brien, in his secret three-year negotiations, had more concern for the builders directly across from the proposed interchange than for the seniors or schoolchildren. An entrance and exit to the Parkway across from a new housing development would surely raise its market value.

If negotiations have been going on for the past three years, I ask, "With whom?" The Borough Council knew nothing, concerned citizens like myself knew nothing, the Planning Board and Zoning Board knew nothing. All of a sudden the council had to vote on this proposal with the lame duck Garden State Parkway Authority, which was scheduled to go out of business on July 9. Am I the only one to "smell something rotten in Denmark"? Maybe these meetings were being held at the builder’s offices and we weren’t invited.

The mayor is politically very brave. He is up for re-election. He actually referred in a local publication to the opinions of a few citizens of Sayreville who luckily stumbled into this unpublicized important meeting as the "the petty concerns of a few." With an insult like this, he’ll see a few petty votes in November. Just the parents of the children of Eisenhower School and the homeowners in the area alone can and should put him out to pasture.

William F. LaMonica

Parlin section of Sayreville