Vote no to question 1 on the ballot

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:59

    To the editor: I believe West Milford residents should vote no to Public Question #1 and also against Mr. Scangarello who supports it. Do you remember there was a nonpartisan group of people dedicated to the preservation and protection of our township? The former Open Space Committee volunteered their time to serve our township and locate both places for active and passive recreation and places worthy of protection for threatened and endangered wildlife. They were fired one and all by the senior members of this council, and to date not one piece of property has been purchased for a park, field, or bike path with our open space money. Among our members we had Don Weiss, who serves on the NY/NJ Trail Conference maintaining our hiking trails, Lynda Smith of the B.E.A.R. Resource and Education group, lifelong environmentalist Ada Erik, myself, at the time a member of the board of the friends of Long Pond Ironworks,, recreational minded folks including Michael Yuhas as well as a liaison to the Parks and Recreation Committee, prominent local businessmen, and even West Milford’s Environmental Commissioner for 30 years, Dick Meany, who helped write the original Open Space Master Plan, in the 1970s. He is one reason why our town doesn’t look or feel like Paramus today. Despite our knowledge of intimate details of this town, our non-partisanship, our service, talent, our passion, and commitment to West Milford, the committee was destroyed and Mr. Scangarello had a direct hand in its demise. Now the Open Space Tax Fund is defenseless and in jeopardy by Public Question #1 on the ballot. I beg you to vote no! The Parks and Recreation Department is trying to acquire open space tax funds to attempt to supplement their already generous $1.4 million budget, possibly for maintenance and salaries. Is that what you voted for when you voted in favor of the open space tax? We, the people who love our town enough to fight for protecting it, organized to attempt to stop a $4 billion company called K. Hovnanian who expected to waltz into West Milford and pirate our well water, destroy 70 acres of trees, and name the 280 home development “Eagle Ridge” after destroying the habitat of the animal that could no longer live there. Our five-year battle cry was heard and picked up by numerous other groups, and by county and local politicians, all the way to the head of the Department of Environmental Protection who is being sued for his decision to protect our local water supply. The senior members of the council were Johnny Come Lately, and did not make a show or even a pretense of supporting this until they finally got the message that to ignore this issue was political suicide. Indeed, they did nothing at all until this year. What money will be used to purchase the property and stop this ludicrous development if the open space money is handed over to Parks and Recreation? Their weak argument amounts to a poor excuse for picking the pockets of the town’s taxpayers. To support this ballot question is to support Eagle Ridge’s 280 homes, which will increase your taxes when the 400 new children expected to move in start attending our schools. Separately, Mr. Scangarello does not deserve your vote, in my opinion, because he has voted poorly in numerous matters concerning residents. I ask you to join me in voting for Andy Gargano, who served as coach to 350 kids in this town from 1991 on, helped get the PAL building up and running, and continues to volunteer regularly in areas of his expertise such as insurance. Paul Marino, who has serves on the township’s First Aid Squad, also deserves your vote. He’s a man of action. If you needed an ambulance, Paul is one of the crew you’d want to arrive at your door. He gave CPR to a hiker at the Highlands Hearing in Ringwood, and saved the gentleman’s life. He’s been actively engaged in our town for years, and symbolizes the new blood we need on the council. Neither man asked for my endorsement, but they have it. West Milford is Open Space. Stop Eagle Ridge from pirating our water. PLEASE VOTE NO! to raiding the open space fund in Public Question #1. Protect our drinking water. Protect our quality of life. Celeste Byrne West Milford