Voters will answer "preservation or recreation" question in November

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:50

    WEST MILFORD-Should the town use money collected for preservation to purchase land for recreation? Voters will have the chance to decide for themselves when they go to the polls in November. West Milford property owners pay a penny per hundred of their assessed value to an open space fund, which was established in 2000 so the town could buy undeveloped land and keep it that way. But the town hasn't spent any of the money. In addition, since the tax was levied, The Highlands Act was passed — prohibiting major development in all of West Milford. The town council decided to put the question to the public. If the referendum passes the existing fund would remain and could be used solely for conservation. But monies collected as of January 2006 could be used for either conservation or recreation. If the referendum fails residents would continue to pay into the fund, which would only be used for environmental purposes. The total levy amounts to about $600,000. The question itself is a bit controversial, possibly pitting environmentalists against sports enthusiasts, but even putting the question on the ballot for the public to decide seemed to cause disagreement, with the council vote split along party lines, 4 - 2. Republican Councilman Joe Elcavage said, "I've always felt that people should be permitted to decide public questions." Neither Councilman Robert Nolan or James Warden — the two dissenting votes — could be reached for comment prior to going to press. The council also decided to table its "Pay for play" ordinance on the advice of its attorney. On the same evening, Police Chief Paul Costello was sworn into duty. He replaces Chief James Dykstra, who retired on June 30. Costello has been a member of the West Milford Township police force since 1974. He is a Passaic County native who graduated from Jefferson High School. He has lived in West Milford for 31 years. Costello is West Milford's fifth police chief. The others were: John Moeller, Jack Ryan, James Breslin and James Dykstra.