[Letter to the Editor Disclaimer: The views and comments expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily those of WORDontheSHore.com.]
To many, its a foregone conclusion that monied interests and backroom meetings will prevail forever altering a 32 acre, wooded and brooked natural habitat. In the name of profit (disguised as progress) they want to destroy and then superstruct what we don't want or need in yet another example of corporate Profit prioritized before People, Planet and Peace.
In my opinion, those who must live with the consequences of development should have a meaningful voice in whether or not proposed development is reckless, or necessary for the community. The developer has spoken with a $2,000 campaign contribution on 2015, and who knows what other promises were made? Wink. Wink. At the very least the public must compel the profiteers and their cheerleaders to develop responsibly - or not develop - with an eye to the future, NOT simply capitalizing on what has generated profits (at the expense of People, Peace and Planet) in the past.
What might have been a Stop and Shop Food Store , and most recently the hyped Ocean Town Center on the corner of Highway 35 and Deal Road has been mired in a lengthy lawsuit brought about by one set of developers against a previous Township of Ocean Mayor and Council. The current (thru 6/2019) Township of Ocean's Mayor and Council & Attorney appear to be cheerleading for this development which for them could resolve and put an end to the Stop and Shop lawsuit - a lawsuit presumably about actions by then Council's abuse of power and alleged conspiracy to thwart and abort competition to the nearby Azzolina Foodtown store. A lawsuit from which sworn testimony might shed some light as to the actions of our elected officials, their appointees, and perhaps, their successors.
There are some positives to the current development plan including road and purported traffic flow improvements which are to be paid for by the developer.
In my view, however, having lived on Roosevelt Avenue as a child, Twinbrook Village as a young adult, and the last 30 years on Woodrow Street, there are more important reasons to prevent this development than there are to promote it.
A gasoline station. Really? Periodic petro spills, cars and trucks waiting for service leaking oils, coolants, and spewing exhaust fumes which are poisonous to all life. Another accident waiting to happen. We need fewer and fewer, not more and more.
But we are told its a done deal and no matter what objections are raised or what environmental studies reveal, the Mayor and Council will rubberstamp the zoning approvals necessary for the developer to proceed.
If that is the case, then we should have a say in how that development impacts the community.
The developer talks about creating hundreds of jobs, but what kind of jobs? Will the developer hire local union labor contractors? Will retail employment be full or part time which pay living wages and benefits, or are they temporary less than minimum wage jobs?
Governor Murphy supports $15Now-NJ and a $15 per hour minimum wage for all NJ workers including full and part time retail clerks, gasoline pump attendants, hotel staff, and the hotel's contract service providers.
Certainly the County of Monmouth with its half billion dollars in cash and investments could in some capacity participate in the purchase of the 32 acres from the developer... perhaps thru Governor Murphy' proposed public owned State Bank of New Jersey.
We need to practice both environmental and social responsibility. If not now, when? If locals don't do it, it won't get done.