Wet parade, but wonderful

To the editor:
Although the rains came on the afternoon of Jan. 14 and drizzled on our World’s Shortest Mardi Gras Parade, it didn’t stop our friends from Dundee and Bedford roads and points beyond from marching.
   Considering our day was held in honor of and to raise funds for the New Orleans Musicians’ Relief Fund, it was probably the least we could do.
   Somehow South Brunswick Post reporter Joe Harvie was able to capture the funky atmosphere of our parade. We weren’t sure how grafting an unconventional benefit onto our annual open house would work, but with so many people happily joining our lunatic fringe (for an hour at least) it exceeded our expectations. As of Jan. 23, our total raised from those who attended and some who couldn’t attend was almost $1,100.
   Thanks also goes out to all members of the eight-piece Fat Sat’day band, ranging in age from 14 to 80, and including Dan Pagan, a last-minute ringer and accomplished professional drummer. And special thanks to neighbor and friend Carol Desmond, who crafted decorative donation boxes and placed helium balloons along Bedford Road.
   If anyone would still like to make a donation to the NOMRF, an organization that helps replace the instruments and equipment of musicians displaced by Hurricane Katrina, please visit www.nomrf.org for donation options.
Randall Kirkpatrick

Lynne Kirkpatrick

Kendall Park
One-sided story was divisive

To the editor:
I am writing this letter in response to a Jan. 19 story titled "Mosque plan irks neighbors" by Staff Writer Joseph Harvie. As a private citizen, as well as a member of the Islamic Society of Central Jersey, I must say that this is a poor example of responsible journalism and reflects badly on the judgment of the editorial board at the South Brunswick Post who allowed it to be published as is.
   At a time in which the community of Muslims in South Brunswick is doing its best to reach out to neighbors and leading community figures both in the government as well as the media, an article such as this does nothing more than pollute relations between the groups. Notably, several daily newspapers have made efforts to increase the public awareness about the Muslim community at large. The fact that stories in the dailies were published just prior to the piece in your paper, and on the front page no less, makes me (and probably others) reflexively suspect that an article such as this was possibly designed to serve those interested in driving a wedge between the respective groups by such incendiary works. In the end, the article was far more sensational than it was informative.
   Because in America we value the freedom of speech and expression as well as the investigation brought about by a healthy unfettered media, the residents of Richard Road certainly have the right to voice both their collective and individual opinion. However, the fact remains that while you saw fit not only to take the words of the residents at face value, there was no mention in the article about any response from the Islamic Society, nor was there any indication that any attempt at all was made to contact the Muslim leadership in order to get a response. This is inexcusable and is quite frankly a poor job by your paper; even in criminal cases, which this certainly is not, calls are often made to the accused or their representatives seeking a reply. Why would your paper report just one side of such an important community issue?
   The simple fact of the matter is that the Muslim community has done everything possible to explain why the expansion is necessary and has jumped through hoops to demonstrate how little of an overall impact it will have on this South Brunswick neighborhood, except for the positive aspects of having a respectful, benevolent neighbor grow along with the community.
   The way some of the residents have reacted, one could be forgiven for thinking that perhaps there are few things worse than a Muslim community existing next door.
   Donna Wrotny was quoted as saying that "you can compare it to building Disney World on the Middlesex County Fairgrounds;" it is these kinds of statements, this unwarranted hyperbole (certainly Walt Disney World is larger than even the proposed expansion of the ISCJ, and the Middlesex County Fairgrounds are not proportional to the combined properties in question) that illustrates the desperation in the Richard Road Residents and the Princeton Gate Homeowners Association.
   The expansion is simply in line with the natural growth of both the ISCJ complex and the community as a whole. The school, which is presently crammed into what few available classrooms are in the mosque proper as well as several modular units, needs its own building, and the modest office complex along with the housing for the aged speaks only to the Muslim desires to both foster the entrepreneurial elements within the community and to provide decent living conditions for the respected elders within the society.
   Of this, what can be found to be so objectionable that both the denizens of Richard Road and the Princeton Gate Residents Association have joined forces to so fiercely oppose the project?
   Perhaps the only issue left, and it is both sad and ugly that in 2006 such an issue even needs be discussed much less brought to the forefront, is that of a not so subtle prejudice that seemingly exists against having more Muslims integrated into the community at large. One wonders if this expansion had been designed for any other religious or even secular establishment, would the cries in opposition be raised so loudly?
   While the residents in opposition are clamoring to air their objections, we must, in the honest efforts to bring all matter to light, ask if this is not the driving force behind their effort.
   To conclude, I must again ask the staff of the South Brunswick Post to practice their journalism in a manner that displays an integrity found sorely lacking in this particular article; I implore the editorial staff of the paper to be vigilant so that such inflammatory articles are never again allowed to grace the pages of your newspaper, and I urge the residents of both Richard Road and Princeton Gate to refrain from statements that not only strain credulity but simply poison the waters that flow between two neighbors who are, for better or worse, inseparable and permanent.
Anthony J. Aschettino

Fighting to preserve a way of life

To the editor:
I was pleased with the proceedings at the township Planning Board meeting last week. It seemed as if all of the right questions were being asked of the people who were proposing to build three more huge warehouses on the remnants of an old farm on Davidson Mill Road. This is the last 139 acres of a farm that was sold for speculation decades ago. This particular area was then sucker-punched with a change to industrial zoning in the late 1980s.
   While residents of eastern South Brunswick suffer from the growing cancer of warehousing, some officials clamor for even more. They salivate for the promise of riches to be added to town coffers while existing problems fester like an ever growing infection. We who protest the negatives of warehousing are labeled "obstructionists." Empty warehouses that get tax relief, poor maintenance of their facilities and flooding from overbuilding on their property are not mentioned.
   We only seek to protect our neighborhoods from tractor-trailers, hundreds of worker cars, speeding and overloaded worker vans and damage to environmentally valuable land that belongs to all of us. We are being unreasonable and selfish? It has fallen upon us to finance South Brunswick with our quality of life?
   I commend those board members who actually had gone to "see for themselves" the problems that the residents are citing. Some have visited the flooded areas of land caused by the existing warehouses. This flooding is from storm water piped under the Turnpike and it has cut a swath across a historically dry field of preserved land. It even can be seen by a satellite picture.
   These people have gotten "mud on their shoes." This is how the government should work in making a decision about a huge project. It is unfortunate that not all of this board has visited the site, but members can make intelligent decisions based upon what they learn from those that have made the visit.
   However a key person, the mayor, has no mud on his shoes. He didn’t visit the site, even though he was offered the opportunity to be driven there by a concerned resident. Yet, the mayor had the nerve to once again complain to the newspaper that we protest "because it’s in our backyard."
   No mud, then no stupid comments.
   The mayor needs to be educated about the importance of such areas as Pidgeon Swamp State Park. He doesn’t understand its ecology, the need to protect a vital natural resource, and why warehouse water dumping there is actually destroying woodlands that weren’t under water. Mayor Gambatese, hasn’t industry in South Brunswick caused enough environmental destruction over the years? We actually have recreational parks built over former dumps. We have poisoned water wells and land chemically poisoned maybe forever. What is the need to damage even more of what is left of our pristine land?
   The Planning Board chairman also made a disturbing comment to the newspaper: "If we don’t get the millions from those warehouses, we all will be picking up the tab." So much for a fair and impartial decision from this guy. This is not government at its best and it is about time that this person be removed from this position. Not once did we ever mention that the warehouses not be built. All that we want is relief from the problems they are causing and it is our right to protest these problems.
   I have got news for you, Mr. Chairman. We all are picking up the tab already. The tab includes not being able to collect all of the promised tax dollars for empty buildings, flooding of preserved land belonging to us all, and damage to a vital natural resource. The eastern section of South Brunswick has been paying the bulk of the tab. You can all have a cough on us with a good, deep breath of diesel soot and the rumble of a monstrous truck.
   Oh, I nearly forgot. Lies about how few traffic problems will be created will be told at the next meeting.
William Klimowicz

South Brunswick