Donovan’s … no deal

Who says Democrats can’t be fiscal conservatives? Recently the Sea Bright Borough Council voted, directly along party lines, to negotiate for the purchase of the Donovan’s property adjacent to borough hall at an asking price of $4.5 million. As a Democratic council member, I voted against this action. Such a deal would put a huge financial burden on taxpayers in Sea Bright for the next 30 years; no plan or proposal has been initiated for use of the property; and the rationale for making the purchase is based merely on a set of assumptions, and “wouldn’t-it-be-nice-ifs.”

It is not prudent or fair for the Sea Bright municipal government to spend large sums of money unless the undertaking is part of a carefully thought-out, longterm plan. Further, Sea Bright presently is facing funding of several other costly and essential projects, such as eliminating flooding, especially in the downtown area; replacing debilitated bulkheads; repaving badly worn streets and upgrading cramped municipal facilities.

When the issue arose, the Democrats – Dina Long, Tom Scriven and I – argued and voted against the concept of such a purchase. Republican council members Peggy Bills, Jack Keeler and Brian Kelly voted in favor of it. Republican Mayor Jo-Ann Kalaka-Adams broke the tie, triggering the borough to pursue the purchase, despite its potential to raise taxes and compromise funding for more vital projects.

Here is the irony – under statute, the mayor would not be eligible to vote on a bond issue to pay for Donovan’s, which means the vote to purchase will most likely not carry. In other words, Donovan’s would be a “no deal.” Meanwhile, the majority vote to negotiate is resulting in legal costs and wasted manpower.

It is sad to see the majority of the council simply spin their wheels on a useless proposition. Good government in Sea Bright should, instead, direct its efforts toward what is really important: sensible long-term planning and improvement of the borough’s infrastructure, making Sea Bright the best it can be for the people who live there.

Maria D. Fernandes

Sea Bright councilwoman

2007 mayoral