LU’s Supposed “Survey” about Closson Farm Leads you to Oppose It
Lambertville Mayor Julia Fahl, proposes that the City purchase the Closson Property and protect it before it becomes another tract of houses and condos on one of the last remaining open spaces in Lambertville. Her proposal includes purchase using existing funds and partners to limit the taxpayer cost to .63/household/year. (That’s cents.) Housing conversion estimates of the idyllic and historic farm vary from 12 units (current zoning) to 28 units (with variances). The property is currently on the market and could be purchased by a developer at any time. (See the City’s FAQ.)
Self-proclaimed “watchdog group” and 1st Amendment advocates “Lambertville United” apparently think this is a bad idea—especially if it is done before former Council Person Steve Stegman returns to his seat on the Council. Stegman you may recall, after many years on Council, and serving as Council President, resigned “to spend more time with his family” when the Fahl administration’s budget work revealed years of mismanagement, incompetence, and hidden costs in City budgets resulting in a crushing debt burden for at least the next ten years. (Many details available on the City web site.) With the endorsement and support of LU, Stegman, and his conveniently-named running mate, Benedetta Lambert, won election, returning the fox to the henhouse starting in 2021.
In mid-November, the “watchdog group” distributed a “survey” requesting feedback on “the Mayor’s Closson Farm” proposal.
I have screenshotted the entire survey (LU Closson Survey Questions) if you would rather not subject yourself to the trackers associated with it.
As in previous “surveys” from the Stegman, er, LU group, the very leading questions are intended to rile and misinform people about an issue, as opposed to actually getting feedback. Please read the City’s FAQ first.
For example the first real question in the survey begins with:
“In the past, all City of Lambertville purchases blah, blah were put to a vote through public referendum…”
REALLY? ALL? IS THAT TRUE? I’m not sure that is really true. Are we talking about the hills above Ely Field? Maybe this just doesn’t seem right due to the way it is phrased, because:
“Voters in November 2008 approved, by almost a 3-1 margin, extending the city’s open space tax, in part to purchase the McCann tract.”—NJ.com, (see link following)
BUT that referendum was not specifically on the purchase of the tract, it was about extending the tax.
The City condemned the hillside above Ely field, so technically the City didn’t purchase it, the city was obligated to pay market value, and you might recall there was a big controversy because the City paid way more than market value…another of Dave and Steve’s expensive adventures requiring a Google search to reveal the details: <https://www.nj.com/hunterdon-county-democrat/2013/04/discussion_of_condemnation_for.html>
But was there a referendum about every other purchase?
Nevertheless, the “survey” doesn’t let me say, “You idiots, the Clossons aren’t going to wait for your stupid referendum, time is clearly of the essence!”
And the next question leads with assuming higher taxes, bonds, and debt, and uses the term “redevelopment” without mentioning “open space” or “historic preservation” or even suggesting that there are some creative options for buying the property. (Again, I suggest you read the FAQ—the truth is out there.)
Someone needs to ask LU to be honest about what they really want, because when you offer them something that—based on their anonymous public statements, press releases, and lawn signs all over town—it seems we all could agree on, their concerns appear to be way more about personalities than issues or facts. It would be good to get clear on that.
But, uh, oh yeah, they don’t have any names on their web site. You can’t actually talk to anyone from LU. They’re not a public non-profit. They’re a secret society. Darn.
If you’d like to participate in the City’s public discussion of the topic, where speakers are required to reveal their identities, the meeting is Monday evening…