Freeholders saw ‘win-win-win’ proposal in Monroe

Joseph Homoki
Guest Column

Joseph Homoki
Guest Column

This letter is in response to the Guest Column written by Michael Szewczyk ("Resident Says County Caved in on Land Swap," Sentinel, Feb. 19) attacking the land diversion proposal to build a new Monroe Township high school.

Mr. Szewczyk chooses negative words in an attempt to discredit this innovative and creative proposal. Words such as "swipe," "inferior," "undesired and unwanted land" are used in an attempt to convince the general public that this land has minimal value.

In his presentation to the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders, our township engineer said that the 35 acres are worth from $6.8-$7.6 million, while the 77 acres are valued at $10.7-$11.9 million. These figures were determined by the township’s tax assessor.

Mr. Szewczyk’s phrase, "behind-the-scenes wheeling and dealing" insinuates that the Monroe Township Board of Education has not been open with the public. The board made dozens of presentations on this proposal and repeatedly stated that it was working with township officials. It certainly is a plus that we are all pulling in the same direction for our children. Our Ad Hoc Committee on Growth and Facilities, a group of more than 40 individuals representing all segments of the community, has been most helpful in making recommendations to the board.

After Monroe’s presentations, Freeholder Director David B. Crabiel summed it all up very well when he made the following remarks: "In my view, this is a win-win-win proposal. The students win, the taxpayers win, and our residents, who will enjoy access to the additional 42 acres of county open space, win."

Mr. Szewczyk further claims that this will "dissect, dismantle and relinquish an irreplaceable, sizable and priceless parcel of land." Monroe Township has a very aggressive open space program. Within the last four years the park has gone from 829 acres to 1,526, thanks to the work of township officials and the freeholders. The 35 acres in question represent less than 2.5 percent of the total park land and are totally open with no trees, while the 77 acres have thousands of mature trees.

The writer further states that if this is approved, "no park, whether local, county or state, will be considered sacred or spared in the future." Every request to Green Acres has to stand on its own merit. During the past few years, 12 land diversions, each one standing on its own merit, have been approved. We have to meet the criteria as per law and prove that this is the most viable option for our township.

Monroe, a very special community, joined together to support this proposal with an unprecedented margin of more than 2,270 positive votes. It was highly endorsed by several local newspapers — they called it innovative and creative.

This proposal would benefit everyone on all levels.

Joseph Homoki is president of the Monroe Township Board of Education