New Milford is at a crossroads. An already highly overdeveloped town has a possible new development on its plate. Our water company, United Water Resources, is looking to sell a 13-acre property next to New Milford High School to a developer. There has been much debate about this project, but it seems that most people are saying enough is enough. This is a project that will put tremendous strain on our infrastructure; our narrow streets will have a hard time with the additional traffic; and its and our proximity to the Hackensack River will add to flooding on Columbia and Harvard Streets, Cedar Road, and Holland Avenue. Will we need to hire more police? With its location next to the high school, will the additional traffic put our kids at risk? What will be the effect on our already overcrowded schools? I propose that the town buy the property, which would allow us to stop this development, create a flood mitigation plan, and move the high school football field there. This would mean that we would not need to build a field complex at the middle school.
Listening to the voices in town, I have been looking at ways to derail this development. Failing that, I believe that the only way to stop this is for the town to buy the property. Having been a certified public accountant for nearly 25 years, I used my finance skills to analyze what it would cost the average homeowner. With an estimated purchase price of $8 million, paying for some of that with anticipated $5 million in grants and using today’s low interest rate of 3 percent, the estimated annual cost to the average homeowner would be $76 per year for 10 years.
After buying the property, I want to have a flood mitigation project like the one in Garfield, which is along the Passaic River. Garfield used FEMA grant money to sink huge retention basins underground to hold thousands of gallons of water during heavy rains and release the water after the rains stop. As they did in Garfield, athletic fields – for example, the high school football field – would be built on top of the basins, using Green Acres grants and Bergen County Open Space grants. It may take a few years for all of this to happen, but it’s all doable.
I believe that the estimated cost of $76 per homeowner is small enough for the entire town to help our neighbors who live near the proposed development and our neighbors who live in the flooding areas in town.