Mayor responds to questions in previous letter

Elias Abilheira

Guest Column

Mr. Bellotti has made it clear no one will come to one township committee meeting to discuss the issues he raises which he claims impact the taxpayers to the tune of over $5,000,000.

Mr. Bellotti ask that I answer his questions through this medium since he claimed more people read the Examiner than watch channel 77.

It is illegal to run political ads on channel 77, and he fails to point out the Examiner fully covers all township meetings, so if he came to a meeting the discussions would be covered both on channel 77 and by the Examiner.

Since it seems he will never come out to discuss these issues face to face, I will address them in his preferred medium.

First I must correct inaccuracies contained in Mr. Bellotti’s two letters.

The first mistake in Mr. Bellotti’s letter is his assumption the township is looking to move the Little League fields. The township has never discussed moving the Little League Fields, and more to the point, it is not legally possible for the township to move the fields, at least for over 40 years.

We, therefore, do not even need to reach the $5,000,000 number Mr. Bellotti “calculated” as the cost for moving the fields, since I just pointed out they can not be moved legally by the township, or the taxpayers.

As for his many assumptions concerning centralized recreation, his comments seem to miss entirely what the concept entails. We are looking at over 1,500 additional homes under our master plan, which equates to a population increase of about 50 percent. Our current facilities are unaffected by the concept of centralized recreation as they are needed and are fully maxed out.

Mr. Bellotti claims we have a recreation program that is not a burden on the taxpayers. This is only true if you ignore the millions of dollars that must be spent to build the facilities and fields at our parks. These costs are absolutely not covered by recreation fees. Building good recreation infrastructure is important and I support it, but pretending your taxes do not have to go up to pay for the $3,000,000 plus improvements at Wagner Farm Park alone is frankly deceitful.

Mr. Bellotti talks about the Millstone Roosevelt Little League diverting tens of thousands of dollars from the program to the defense of the law suit. The reports of the costs to the league keep changing, and I can not respond to that until I have an accurate number.

As for Mr. Bellotti’s claim of multiple law suits where the Little League always won, reviewing the court records reveals that the Little League has only been involved in one law suit, in which suit it has lost every summary judgment motion, and the court has determined the case has such merit it will go to trial.

Reviewing the court records reveals that the township was sued in two lawsuits over zoning and won. The Little League, however, was never a party to these suits. While the township won each time, the Little League has lost every motion in the one and only suit in which the Little League is involved.

Having exposed all of the misinformation propounded by Mr. Bellotti, I will now try to answer his questions.

Question – Do you think it is a good idea to move the Little League at a cost of more than $5,000,000 to the tax payers?

Answer – No, and no one has ever suggested such a plan.

Question – Are you in favor of centralized recreation and will it adversely effect Wagner Farm Park?

Answer – I am in favor of centralized recreation, and it does not negatively impact Wagner Farm Park. While constructing a $1,500,000 building containing locker rooms, a kitchen and half a basketball court to service about four playing fields that can not be expanded was very poor planning, the money has been spent and the facility will be utilized. Long term planning dictates that centralized recreation facilities for our future needs will be more cost effective.

Question – Where do you plan to centralize recreation that would not open the town to new litigation?

Answer – This question is based upon two flawed assumptions, the first that centralized recreation involves moving all existing recreation to one location, the second, that we have capacity at Brandywine and Wagner Farm Park to handle a 50 percent increase in our team sports and passive recreation. Centralized recreation may result in litigation, but it would potentially involve one law suit. Failing to plan ahead again will cost us millions more in waste and result in multiple law suits as we build on two, three, or four sites instead of one. Long term planning, however, makes a law suit far less likely.

Question – Are you aware the Little League is being sued again, and that the Little League has successfully defended itself multiple times, and do you think the new law suit is harassment?

Answer – As I pointed out to you the court records indicate not only that the Little League has only been sued once, but also that it has lost every summary judgment motion in that single law suit, with the judge saying the case has merit and will go to a jury.— which means that the case is by definition neither frivolous nor harassment. My opinion therefore really does not matter, moreover, since Ron Byer told me he does not want me or the township involved, I will respect that demand.

Question – Are you aware that at least one of your campaign supporters is a plaintiff in the suit?

Answer – Yes, in fact plaintiffs in the suit have supported Cory Wingerter, Evan Maltz and John Pfefferkorn. In fact John Pfefferkorn did nothing to help the Little League during his entire three years in office. Are you aware of that far more of my campaign supporters support and participate in Little League Mr. Bellotti?

Question – Do you believe that it is best to control spending until after the new school is built?

Answer – Absolutely not, it is always best to control spending, before, during and after the new school is built. That is why Nancy and I worked to eliminate over $1,000,000 in waste during our first year, and will continue to eliminate more waste with Bob’s help.

It is easy to ask questions, but obviously it is hard to ask the right questions.

If you have concerns about these or other issues please do not hesitate to come and discuss your concerns. People will continue to try to spin and use these recreation issues for political purposes, however, the rest of us can work together effectively to plan ahead for our future.

Elias Abilheira is the mayor of Millstone Township