Objection to Woodrow Wilson Memorial Park Land Disposition
The following reflects the position of the Linden Shade Tree Commission and does not reflect the opinions of the Mayor, nor those of City Council nor those of the Board of Education.
In violation of the governor’s executive order to avoid public gatherings, the Linden Board of Education held a public hearing at 6 pm on Thursday March 26, 2020, in the Linden High School auditorium. The purpose of this hearing was to propose the disposition of Green Acres Funded parkland, in order to facilitate building a second Linden High School gymnasium.
There was almost no one there from the public, because A: no one knew about it and B: the meeting was in violation of governor’s executive order to avoid public gatherings during the Corona pandemic. Major League Baseball, the Olympics, the court system, etc. – everything is on hold. Yet the Linden BOE went ahead with a “public” meeting. This project should not be considered, much less approved, until after a real public meeting has been held.
In spite of the above, on April 21 the Linden City Council passed a resolution supporting this project, which would remove a portion of Wilson Park, including four (4) eighty year old oak trees. The average lifespan of an oak tree is 200 years. These trees were planted circa 1939, and are approximately 81 years old. They are not even middle aged, as many oaks live 300 to 500 years.The open space provided by parks is precious. You can’t make it. You can’t buy it. And when it’s gone, it’s gone forever. If this project is necessary, Linden should come up with a plan which does not include the loss of park land, and spares the four eighty year old oak trees.
Since we were not able to rebut comments made in response to public comments at the Caucus meeting on April 20, 2020 , the record need to be set straight on several issues. Furthermore, you heard only one side of this issue from a biased source, the Linden Board of Ed Business Administrator. All stakeholders should be heard from and should have been heard from at the start of this process. Our liaison also failed to bring this issue to our attention. He was asked about it in Jan/Feb 2020 about this project, and said “he would have to look into it”. This is interesting since he voted “YES” in October on a resolution supporting this project.
- This project has NOTHING to do with child safety. This claim is specious. Students will still have to cross the street each way, at least twice a day coming to and from each building depending on which side of St. George’s Avenue they live.
- Current Gym Classes: During the warmer months, gym classes are taken to Wilson Park on approximately an hourly basis for their gym class. Building a duplicate gym a block away from an existing gym is completely lacking in fiduciary responsibility. It is also suggested that there be a further review of the state requirements regarding the need for a gym. According to at least one source investigate, this is also not a necessity. There are alternatives.
- This is NOT a “new school”. This is a duplicate gym and will add 21 parking spaces. Estimated cost of the 21 parking spaces is a whopping approximately $134,000 to $403,000 per space. This is a HORRIBLE return on investment.
- The excessive long driveway is a waste of materials, inefficient, will make the area actually less safe given congestion on Summit Terr and St. during the mornings and afternoons. The long driveway is in direct contradiction to State guidelines for school safety in relation to potential terrorist attacks. During the winter, this excessively long driveway will need to be cleared from snow before anyone can use the parking facility.
- Adequate alternatives have NOT been considered by the City and School Board.
- The term “Minor” disposition is a legal definition and SHOULD NOT be use as an indication of the quality or importance of the land in question. This is the last vestige of green extending from the Elizabeth border to the Rahway border.
- The so called public hearing was basically a sham. There were constant interruptions of those speaking and an attempt to limit comments only to those that suited the misguided agenda of the School Board. There is no reason whatsover, that this hearing should not and could not have been postponed until after the passing of this COVID 19 crises so there could be REAL public input.
- The proposed resolution in support of the “Final Application to be voted upon stated in the agenda for the Council Meeting on April 21, 2020 is out of order and essentially illegal. The so-called hearing was held in direct defiance of the Governor’s Executive Orders to “Stay at home and avoid public gatherings. The resolution for a “Final” application must include comments and responses (which has yet to happen), and also a FULL UNEDITED TRANSCRIPT of the (so-called) public hearing must be provided as part of the resolution according to NJDEP.
- Any funds paid for the value of trees should be placed in the Shade Tree Commission Budget, NOT that of the State of NJ. These funds would be use for much needed replanting.
Please read the attachments below for additional information.