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To NJWebWiz re Bancroft Issues

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  • wwrjr1939
    To NJWebWiz: Your question: What s going on with Bancroft? could not have been more timely. As you can see from the many responses to your posting
    Message 1 of 9 , Jan 9, 2013

      To NJWebWiz:

       

      Your question:  "What's going on with Bancroft?" could not have been more timely.  As you can see from the many responses to your posting yesterday, you really hit a "hot" button.

       

      I'm an old guy.  I have lived here almost all of my 74 years, and I have seen "hot" issue controversies come and go.  These controversies almost always involve a proposed local change.  Clearly, the upcoming referendum and the possible change that will come if it passes fall into the "hot" category.

       

      Here's what usually happens with "hot" change issues.  The arguments on both sides will become very passionate.  There will be charges of plots and hidden agendas from those who are against the change.  In the old days, the folks who opposed change would call the people who were for the change "communists."  That would make the people who were for the change furious, and then the fur would really start to fly.  I remember one time when I was a kid, a group wanted the town to put fluoride in the drinking water to fight tooth decay.  Feelings ran so high that after one public meeting, there was a fist fight behind Borough Hall.  Hopefully things today won't reach that point, but even if they do, ultimately, the town will calm down, and things will return to normal.  "Normal" here is a town made up mostly of middle class families who prize education and who do everything they can to see that their kids get the best possible start in life.

       

      A little history may be helpful.  Haddonfield has always been "an education community."  The second community building in town built by the Quakers in the mid 1700s was a school.  It's still there today on Haddon Avenue.  The first comprehensive public high school was built in the early 1900s at the site where the middle school is now.  It was next to the railroad station, and in addition to Haddonfield teens, students came by train from as far as Hammonton and Medford for the chance to attend high school.  In those days, everything east of here was very rural, and there was no education beyond the elementary level.

       

      The current high school main building opened in the 1920s, and all the schools in town were expanded in the decades from the 50s through the 80s.  The reason for this is that the nurture of growing families was, and still is, Haddonfield's major function as a community.  The people who have lived here over the years have recognized this and have been prudent in making long term investments that have resulted in the outstanding quality of the public educational system we have today.

       

      In light of the continuing family nurture function of our community, I have reached the conclusion that it is in the public interest to buy the Bancroft site.  Here are my reasons for this conclusion:

       

      1.  Bancroft is a willing seller.  I am not a Bancroft insider.  I have not communicated with anyone at Bancroft in many years, but I am familiar with the situation having been employed there in the late 1950s and again in the 1970s.  My observation is that over the last several decades attitudes of the residents of the surrounding neighborhoods have become increasingly antagonistic toward Bancroft.  It appears to me that the people responsible for Bancroft have decided that enough is enough and that it is in their interest to move to less contentious surroundings.

       

      2.  Having the Borough and the Board of Education acquire the site will preserve the maximum number of public options for the future.  There isn't any more land in Haddonfield, and with Bancroft currently being a willing seller, the town has a one-time opportunity.  If we don't get this parcel into public hands now, some other use will emerge, and the property will be lost to future public use.

       

      3.  The Borough does not have enough space to handle the increased needs brought about by the expansion of Title IX.  Title IX mandates as a basic civil right that female athletes have equal facilities with male athletes.  Our present fields are doing double and triple duty and have become seriously inadequate as women's sports have expanded.  (I talked about this in more detail in a posting on HT a couple of weeks ago.)

       

      4.  The lack of an adequate campus increases the likelihood that HMHS could be phased out as a comprehensive high school as part of school district consolidation.  Nobody wants to talk about it, but the State of New Jersey is on the verge of bankruptcy.  Knowledgeable people think that consolidation of the smaller municipalities and school districts is inevitable. 

      In the view of prudent people, this prospect is no longer a question of if, but when.  When the State can no longer pay its bills, the bankers will hold a gun to the heads of the legislators, and, since bankruptcy is not a viable option, the legislators' only recourse will be massive restructuring of State operations.  One of the State's major cost centers is public schools.  Consolidation is the clearest way to eliminate costly duplication of services and administrative overhead.  When it happens, consolidation will probably follow a model like what Pennsylvania did in the 1950s when it abolished all existing school districts and redrew district lines so that no district would have less than 5,000 students and most would have substantially more. 

      While nobody can say at this point exactly what will happen here in New Jersey,  an adequate campus would do much to assure that we would keep a full high school operating here in town.

       

      4.  Property values in Haddonfield stay high in large part because of our strong public schools.  All you have to do is to look at Merchantville to see what happens when a town loses its high school.  Through the 1960s while it had a comprehensive school district, Merchantville's property values were about the same or even a little higher than Haddonfield's.  Once their high school was consolidated and the kids went to Pennsauken, the property values dropped significantly.  Today, the same house in Merchantville is valued at about 2/3 of what it is in Haddonfield.  Merchantville was simply no longer as desirable a place to raise kids, and property values dropped.  The same thing could happen in Haddonfield if we were to lose HMHS.

       

      5.  Haddonfield has always been about raising kids.  Most of the houses here are designed for families with children.  People consciously choose to move to Haddonfield and to pay our higher taxes because our public schools continue to be among the best in the nation.  The schools also continue to be an incredible bargain.

      The most recent national average figures for annual private non-sectarian school tuition rates are $15,945 for elementary and $27,302 for secondary (http://www.capenet.org/facts.html).  This means that the cost of educating one child K-12 in private school today would be:  $252,713, or to put it another way, if you have two kids in school, it is going to cost you anywhere from $35,000 to $50,000 a year to get the kind of quality you get for just your taxes here in Haddonfield. 

      If we invest in acquiring the Bancroft site, we will do much to assure that Haddonfield will continue to be a place that attracts people who have a high regard for education and who see our educational system as real value.  This means that the demand for housing and the value of our housing stock will stay high.

       

      6.  It's a myth that the town is discriminating against our seniors.  As I said, I'm an old guy, and a lot of my friends are old too.  I have lived here all my life.  I am not broken up about the thought of having to move out of the five (maybe six) bedroom house that my wife and I share.  Our kids are long gone, and the place is too damn big for just the two of us.  It costs us way too much to stay here, but inertia and grandkids in the area keep us rooted in the old place.  We know that one day we will have to move.  There are plenty of apartments and condos in town and in the area, and moving outside the Borough boundaries when you're our age does not mean that you are one bit less a part of the community.  The community, after all, is not the government – it's people.  As a friend of mine says, "I now sleep in Cherry Hill, but I still live in Haddonfield."  Most of the folks I know who have moved feel the same way.  They still participate in whatever aspects of Haddonfield life they choose.  So it seems to me that the senior citizen argument is not nearly the issue some people make it out to be.

       

      7.  Closing Thoughts: The acquisition of the Bancroft property will do much to give Haddonfield the ability to maintain its position as a leading education community.  The acquisition does involve making some changes and spending some money.  It takes courage to confront change.  Haddonfielders have been courageous in the past.  The quality of life we enjoy today is not an accident.  It is the result of many generations of Haddonfielders who have had the courage to invest and reinvest in the quality of life in our community.

      While I probably won't be around to see the long term outcomes of the upcoming decision,  I profoundly hope that as a community we will have the courage to maintain our tradition of being forward looking.  One way to do that is to vote YES on the upcoming referendum.

       

      And Finally: Thank you NJWebWiz for your honest question.  I hope that the foregoing comments help you to understand a little more of the larger context in which the current debate is taking place.  From the way you raise the question, I know you will give the matter thoughtful consideration.

       

      I send you my best wishes, and my sincere hope that life for you and your family here in town is as fulfilling as it has been for me and my family.

       

      Bill Reynolds

       

          

    • Bill T
      This is the best and most informed piece I have seen yet on this topic. This is what it is all about. Looking at our history of success and how we got here,
      Message 2 of 9 , Jan 10, 2013
        This is the best and most informed piece I have seen yet on this topic. This is what it is all about. Looking at our history of success and how we got here, and why we must not lose sight of that vision to protect our exceptional position in the region for generations to come.

        Thank you to our friend and former Mayor, Bill Reynolds.

        Bill Tourtellotte 



        On Jan 10, 2013, at 12:37 AM, "wwrjr1939" <wwrjr1939@...> wrote:

         

        To NJWebWiz:

         

        Your question:  "What's going on with Bancroft?" could not have been more timely.  As you can see from the many responses to your posting yesterday, you really hit a "hot" button.

         

        I'm an old guy.  I have lived here almost all of my 74 years, and I have seen "hot" issue controversies come and go.  These controversies almost always involve a proposed local change.  Clearly, the upcoming referendum and the possible change that will come if it passes fall into the "hot" category.

         

        Here's what usually happens with "hot" change issues.  The arguments on both sides will become very passionate.  There will be charges of plots and hidden agendas from those who are against the change.  In the old days, the folks who opposed change would call the people who were for the change "communists."  That would make the people who were for the change furious, and then the fur would really start to fly.  I remember one time when I was a kid, a group wanted the town to put fluoride in the drinking water to fight tooth decay.  Feelings ran so high that after one public meeting, there was a fist fight behind Borough Hall.  Hopefully things today won't reach that point, but even if they do, ultimately, the town will calm down, and things will return to normal.  "Normal" here is a town made up mostly of middle class families who prize education and who do everything they can to see that their kids get the best possible start in life.

         

        A little history may be helpful.  Haddonfield has always been "an education community."  The second community building in town built by the Quakers in the mid 1700s was a school.  It's still there today on Haddon Avenue.  The first comprehensive public high school was built in the early 1900s at the site where the middle school is now.  It was next to the railroad station, and in addition to Haddonfield teens, students came by train from as far as Hammonton and Medford for the chance to attend high school.  In those days, everything east of here was very rural, and there was no education beyond the elementary level.

         

        The current high school main building opened in the 1920s, and all the schools in town were expanded in the decades from the 50s through the 80s.  The reason for this is that the nurture of growing families was, and still is, Haddonfield's major function as a community.  The people who have lived here over the years have recognized this and have been prudent in making long term investments that have resulted in the outstanding quality of the public educational system we have today.

         

        In light of the continuing family nurture function of our community, I have reached the conclusion that it is in the public interest to buy the Bancroft site.  Here are my reasons for this conclusion:

         

        1.  Bancroft is a willing seller.  I am not a Bancroft insider.  I have not communicated with anyone at Bancroft in many years, but I am familiar with the situation having been employed there in the late 1950s and again in the 1970s.  My observation is that over the last several decades attitudes of the residents of the surrounding neighborhoods have become increasingly antagonistic toward Bancroft.  It appears to me that the people responsible for Bancroft have decided that enough is enough and that it is in their interest to move to less contentious surroundings.

         

        2.  Having the Borough and the Board of Education acquire the site will preserve the maximum number of public options for the future.  There isn't any more land in Haddonfield, and with Bancroft currently being a willing seller, the town has a one-time opportunity.  If we don't get this parcel into public hands now, some other use will emerge, and the property will be lost to future public use.

         

        3.  The Borough does not have enough space to handle the increased needs brought about by the expansion of Title IX.  Title IX mandates as a basic civil right that female athletes have equal facilities with male athletes.  Our present fields are doing double and triple duty and have become seriously inadequate as women's sports have expanded.  (I talked about this in more detail in a posting on HT a couple of weeks ago.)

         

        4.  The lack of an adequate campus increases the likelihood that HMHS could be phased out as a comprehensive high school as part of school district consolidation.  Nobody wants to talk about it, but the State of New Jersey is on the verge of bankruptcy.  Knowledgeable people think that consolidation of the smaller municipalities and school districts is inevitable. 

        In the view of prudent people, this prospect is no longer a question of if, but when.  When the State can no longer pay its bills, the bankers will hold a gun to the heads of the legislators, and, since bankruptcy is not a viable option, the legislators' only recourse will be massive restructuring of State operations.  One of the State's major cost centers is public schools.  Consolidation is the clearest way to eliminate costly duplication of services and administrative overhead.  When it happens, consolidation will probably follow a model like what Pennsylvania did in the 1950s when it abolished all existing school districts and redrew district lines so that no district would have less than 5,000 students and most would have substantially more. 

        While nobody can say at this point exactly what will happen here in New Jersey,  an adequate campus would do much to assure that we would keep a full high school operating here in town.

         

        4.  Property values in Haddonfield stay high in large part because of our strong public schools.  All you have to do is to look at Merchantville to see what happens when a town loses its high school.  Through the 1960s while it had a comprehensive school district, Merchantville's property values were about the same or even a little higher than Haddonfield's.  Once their high school was consolidated and the kids went to Pennsauken, the property values dropped significantly.  Today, the same house in Merchantville is valued at about 2/3 of what it is in Haddonfield.  Merchantville was simply no longer as desirable a place to raise kids, and property values dropped.  The same thing could happen in Haddonfield if we were to lose HMHS.

         

        5.  Haddonfield has always been about raising kids.  Most of the houses here are designed for families with children.  People consciously choose to move to Haddonfield and to pay our higher taxes because our public schools continue to be among the best in the nation.  The schools also continue to be an incredible bargain.

        The most recent national average figures for annual private non-sectarian school tuition rates are $15,945 for elementary and $27,302 for secondary (http://www.capenet.org/facts.html).  This means that the cost of educating one child K-12 in private school today would be:  $252,713, or to put it another way, if you have two kids in school, it is going to cost you anywhere from $35,000 to $50,000 a year to get the kind of quality you get for just your taxes here in Haddonfield. 

        If we invest in acquiring the Bancroft site, we will do much to assure that Haddonfield will continue to be a place that attracts people who have a high regard for education and who see our educational system as real value.  This means that the demand for housing and the value of our housing stock will stay high.

         

        6.  It's a myth that the town is discriminating against our seniors.  As I said, I'm an old guy, and a lot of my friends are old too.  I have lived here all my life.  I am not broken up about the thought of having to move out of the five (maybe six) bedroom house that my wife and I share.  Our kids are long gone, and the place is too damn big for just the two of us.  It costs us way too much to stay here, but inertia and grandkids in the area keep us rooted in the old place.  We know that one day we will have to move.  There are plenty of apartments and condos in town and in the area, and moving outside the Borough boundaries when you're our age does not mean that you are one bit less a part of the community.  The community, after all, is not the government – it's people.  As a friend of mine says, "I now sleep in Cherry Hill, but I still live in Haddonfield."  Most of the folks I know who have moved feel the same way.  They still participate in whatever aspects of Haddonfield life they choose.  So it seems to me that the senior citizen argument is not nearly the issue some people make it out to be.

         

        7.  Closing Thoughts: The acquisition of the Bancroft property will do much to give Haddonfield the ability to maintain its position as a leading education community.  The acquisition does involve making some changes and spending some money.  It takes courage to confront change.  Haddonfielders have been courageous in the past.  The quality of life we enjoy today is not an accident.  It is the result of many generations of Haddonfielders who have had the courage to invest and reinvest in the quality of life in our community.

        While I probably won't be around to see the long term outcomes of the upcoming decision,  I profoundly hope that as a community we will have the courage to maintain our tradition of being forward looking.  One way to do that is to vote YES on the upcoming referendum.

         

        And Finally: Thank you NJWebWiz for your honest question.  I hope that the foregoing comments help you to understand a little more of the larger context in which the current debate is taking place.  From the way you raise the question, I know you will give the matter thoughtful consideration.

         

        I send you my best wishes, and my sincere hope that life for you and your family here in town is as fulfilling as it has been for me and my family.

         

        Bill Reynolds

         

            

      • John Kawczynski
        Bill, As someone who as seen it all over the years, could you spend a few moments to give us the 5 sentence history of Crows Woods and how/when/why it was
        Message 3 of 9 , Jan 10, 2013
          Bill,
           
          As someone who as seen it all over the years, could you spend a few moments to give us the 5 sentence history of Crows Woods and how/when/why it was acquired?  I've heard many long-time residents say it was a dump at one point; is that true?
           
          Also could you discuss the vote to create the historic preservation district in the early 1970s?
           
          No matter which way the vote goes, I think this Bancroft vote is as historic the future of our community as those two events. 

          John Kawczynski
           

           
          -----Original Message-----
          From: wwrjr1939 <wwrjr1939@...>
          To: HaddonfieldTalks <HaddonfieldTalks@yahoogroups.com>
          Sent: Thu, Jan 10, 2013 12:37 am
          Subject: [HaddonfieldTalks] To NJWebWiz re Bancroft Issues

           
          To NJWebWiz:
           
          Your question:  "What's going on with Bancroft?" could not have been more timely.  As you can see from the many responses to your posting yesterday, you really hit a "hot" button.
           
          I'm an old guy.  I have lived here almost all of my 74 years, and I have seen "hot" issue controversies come and go.  These controversies almost always involve a proposed local change.  Clearly, the upcoming referendum and the possible change that will come if it passes fall into the "hot" category.
           
          Here's what usually happens with "hot" change issues.  The arguments on both sides will become very passionate.  There will be charges of plots and hidden agendas from those who are against the change.  In the old days, the folks who opposed change would call the people who were for the change "communists."  That would make the people who were for the change furious, and then the fur would really start to fly.  I remember one time when I was a kid, a group wanted the town to put fluoride in the drinking water to fight tooth decay.  Feelings ran so high that after one public meeting, there was a fist fight behind Borough Hall.  Hopefully things today won't reach that point, but even if they do, ultimately, the town will calm down, and things will return to normal.  "Normal" here is a town made up mostly of middle class families who prize education and who do everything they can to see that their kids get the best possible start in life.
           
          A little history may be helpful.  Haddonfield has always been "an education community."  The second community building in town built by the Quakers in the mid 1700s was a school.  It's still there today on Haddon Avenue.  The first comprehensive public high school was built in the early 1900s at the site where the middle school is now.  It was next to the railroad station, and in addition to Haddonfield teens, students came by train from as far as Hammonton and Medford for the chance to attend high school.  In those days, everything east of here was very rural, and there was no education beyond the elementary level.
           
          The current high school main building opened in the 1920s, and all the schools in town were expanded in the decades from the 50s through the 80s.  The reason for this is that the nurture of growing families was, and still is, Haddonfield's major function as a community.  The people who have lived here over the years have recognized this and have been prudent in making long term investments that have resulted in the outstanding quality of the public educational system we have today.
           
          In light of the continuing family nurture function of our community, I have reached the conclusion that it is in the public interest to buy the Bancroft site.  Here are my reasons for this conclusion:
           
          1.  Bancroft is a willing seller.  I am not a Bancroft insider.  I have not communicated with anyone at Bancroft in many years, but I am familiar with the situation having been employed there in the late 1950s and again in the 1970s.  My observation is that over the last several decades attitudes of the residents of the surrounding neighborhoods have become increasingly antagonistic toward Bancroft.  It appears to me that the people responsible for Bancroft have decided that enough is enough and that it is in their interest to move to less contentious surroundings.
           
          2.  Having the Borough and the Board of Education acquire the site will preserve the maximum number of public options for the future.  There isn't any more land in Haddonfield, and with Bancroft currently being a willing seller, the town has a one-time opportunity.  If we don't get this parcel into public hands now, some other use will emerge, and the property will be lost to future public use.
           
          3.  The Borough does not have enough space to handle the increased needs brought about by the expansion of Title IX.  Title IX mandates as a basic civil right that female athletes have equal facilities with male athletes.  Our present fields are doing double and triple duty and have become seriously inadequate as women's sports have expanded.  (I talked about this in more detail in a posting on HT a couple of weeks ago.)
           
          4.  The lack of an adequate campus increases the likelihood that HMHS could be phased out as a comprehensive high school as part of school district consolidation.  Nobody wants to talk about it, but the State of New Jersey is on the verge of bankruptcy.  Knowledgeable people think that consolidation of the smaller municipalities and school districts is inevitable. 
          In the view of prudent people, this prospect is no longer a question of if, but when.  When the State can no longer pay its bills, the bankers will hold a gun to the heads of the legislators, and, since bankruptcy is not a viable option, the legislators' only recourse will be massive restructuring of State operations.  One of the State's major cost centers is public schools.  Consolidation is the clearest way to eliminate costly duplication of services and administrative overhead.  When it happens, consolidation will probably follow a model like what Pennsylvania did in the 1950s when it abolished all existing school districts and redrew district lines so that no district would have less than 5,000 students and most would have substantially more. 
          While nobody can say at this point exactly what will happen here in New Jersey,  an adequate campus would do much to assure that we would keep a full high school operating here in town.
           
          4.  Property values in Haddonfield stay high in large part because of our strong public schools.  All you have to do is to look at Merchantville to see what happens when a town loses its high school.  Through the 1960s while it had a comprehensive school district, Merchantville's property values were about the same or even a little higher than Haddonfield's.  Once their high school was consolidated and the kids went to Pennsauken, the property values dropped significantly.  Today, the same house in Merchantville is valued at about 2/3 of what it is in Haddonfield.  Merchantville was simply no longer as desirable a place to raise kids, and property values dropped.  The same thing could happen in Haddonfield if we were to lose HMHS.
           
          5.  Haddonfield has always been about raising kids.  Most of the houses here are designed for families with children.  People consciously choose to move to Haddonfield and to pay our higher taxes because our public schools continue to be among the best in the nation.  The schools also continue to be an incredible bargain.
          The most recent national average figures for annual private non-sectarian school tuition rates are $15,945 for elementary and $27,302 for secondary (http://www.capenet.org/facts.html).  This means that the cost of educating one child K-12 in private school today would be:  $252,713, or to put it another way, if you have two kids in school, it is going to cost you anywhere from $35,000 to $50,000 a year to get the kind of quality you get for just your taxes here in Haddonfield. 
          If we invest in acquiring the Bancroft site, we will do much to assure that Haddonfield will continue to be a place that attracts people who have a high regard for education and who see our educational system as real value.  This means that the demand for housing and the value of our housing stock will stay high.
           
          6.  It's a myth that the town is discriminating against our seniors.  As I said, I'm an old guy, and a lot of my friends are old too.  I have lived here all my life.  I am not broken up about the thought of having to move out of the five (maybe six) bedroom house that my wife and I share.  Our kids are long gone, and the place is too damn big for just the two of us.  It costs us way too much to stay here, but inertia and grandkids in the area keep us rooted in the old place.  We know that one day we will have to move.  There are plenty of apartments and condos in town and in the area, and moving outside the Borough boundaries when you're our age does not mean that you are one bit less a part of the community.  The community, after all, is not the government – it's people.  As a friend of mine says, "I now sleep in Cherry Hill, but I still live in Haddonfield."  Most of the folks I know who have moved feel the same way.  They still participate in whatever aspects of Haddonfield life they choose.  So it seems to me that the senior citizen argument is not nearly the issue some people make it out to be.
           
          7.  Closing Thoughts: The acquisition of the Bancroft property will do much to give Haddonfield the ability to maintain its position as a leading education community.  The acquisition does involve making some changes and spending some money.  It takes courage to confront change.  Haddonfielders have been courageous in the past.  The quality of life we enjoy today is not an accident.  It is the result of many generations of Haddonfielders who have had the courage to invest and reinvest in the quality of life in our community.
          While I probably won't be around to see the long term outcomes of the upcoming decision,  I profoundly hope that as a community we will have the courage to maintain our tradition of being forward looking.  One way to do that is to vote YES on the upcoming referendum.
           
          And Finally: Thank you NJWebWiz for your honest question.  I hope that the foregoing comments help you to understand a little more of the larger context in which the current debate is taking place.  From the way you raise the question, I know you will give the matter thoughtful consideration.
           
          I send you my best wishes, and my sincere hope that life for you and your family here in town is as fulfilling as it has been for me and my family.
           
          Bill Reynolds
           
              
        • NJWebWiz
          Bill - Thanks for the history lesson and your insight into the Bancroft situation. I was disappointed in the responses to my post until I got to yours. They
          Message 4 of 9 , Jan 10, 2013
            Bill - Thanks for the history lesson and your insight into the Bancroft situation. I was disappointed in the responses to my post until I got to yours. They seemed mostly partisan and didn't address the questions I asked. You advocate one position, but provide information to support it.

            I have a better grip on the HHMS aspect of the decision, but need to expand my understanding beyond that. So I apologize if the following is too simplistic (or wrong). Here's what I *think* is going on; I'd love to hear comments and corrections...

            > Bancroft doesn't want to be in Haddonfield anymore.

            Whether this is for financial reasons, neighborhood sentiment, or something else doesn't really matter. It's their right to locate wherever they want to. Question: Do they pay property taxes or are they exempt? If they do pay, how does their rate compare to what the town would receive if the property was purchased by a developer who built residential properties?

            > If the BOE wins the vote, they would issue municipal bonds to raise the money for the purchase price, demolition, rebuilding, etc., right? The cost to the town, via increased property taxes, is just the interest payments on those bonds, correct?

            > If the BOE loses the vote, what happens? Can Bancroft sell to another party? Has any party expressed an interest? What are the zoning restrictions?

            I recall some hullabaloo a while back when it looked like a private developer might purchase the land and build houses. Everyone nearby seemed strongly opposed to this; I saw lawn signs warning of "high density development". Why the opposition? Wouldn't more houses provide more property taxes to the town? Or is this a NIMBY situation and/or a subtle argument against lower-income housing that could reduce local property values?

            > If Bancroft was happy and had no interest in moving, wouldn't the HHMS issues (whatever they are; over-crowding, future expansion needs, title 9, etc.) *still* exist? If so, how would the town/BOE deal with them? Surely some solution would be found, no?

            > Worst case scenario for Bancroft: No one wants their property. Then what?

            If the BOE can't get the property, and no other party is willing to pay fair market value, would Bancroft abandon the property? What impact would that have on the town? If they're paying property taxes, we'd lose that revenue, right? And what's the economic impact of their employees and student families on local businesses (restaurants, stores, etc.)? Would that vanish if Bancroft moved or abandoned the property?

            I see three possible outcomes, each with pros and cons. How correct is this:

            1. BOE wins and buys property.

            Pros...
            o Town gets more open space / parkland
            o HHMS gets expansion options
            o Neighbors happy that high-density development is avoided; property values (presumably) stay high

            Cons...
            o Property taxes go up to cover debt service
            o Hidden, unexpected costs arise

            2. BOE loses and private developer buys property

            Pros...
            o Increased property tax base boosts town revenue
            o Potentially more diversity in schools and town

            Cons...
            o Lost opportunity for more open space / parkland
            o Lost opportunity for contiguous expanded HHMS
            o More load on schools due to more kids
            o Neighbors not happy; may see decline in local property values

            3. Status Quo

            Pros...
            o More time to think about situation, explore options and alternatives
            o No immediate increase in property taxes (if BOE wins)
            o No immediate load on schools (if private developer buys property)
            o Cost to acquire property might drop in future years

            Cons...
            o We get to fight about this all over again in a few years!
            o Cost to acquire property might increase in future years
            o Grants to offset cost may not exist in future


            So even after reading all the comments and thinking about this a lot, I'm still not sure where I stand! I think if there was *no* cost to the town or residents, having the BOE purchase the property would be an easier decision to get behind. So it really comes down to "how much am I as a property taxpayer willing to pay and what do I get for that?" I like the idea of more open space and parkland; I'd be willing to pay something for that, although probably not as much as the numbers I saw. I'm not sure about how much I'd pay to solve the HHMS issues, if they actually aren't solvable any other way (as I asked above, if Bancroft wasn't even on the table, how would HHMS solve the problems?).

            I'm really having an internal conflict between my self-interest (property tax increase) and the community interest (open space, school expansion options).

            Anyway, thanks for your thoughts and comments!



            --- In HaddonfieldTalks@yahoogroups.com, "wwrjr1939" wrote:
            >
            >
            > To NJWebWiz:
            >
            >
            >
            > Your question: "What's going on with Bancroft?" could not have
            > been more timely. As you can see from the many responses to your
            > posting yesterday, you really hit a "hot" button.
            >
            >
            >
            > I'm an old guy. I have lived here almost all of my 74 years, and I
            > have seen "hot" issue controversies come and go. These
            > controversies almost always involve a proposed local change. Clearly,
            > the upcoming referendum and the possible change that will come if it
            > passes fall into the "hot" category.
            >
            >
            >
            > Here's what usually happens with "hot" change issues. The
            > arguments on both sides will become very passionate. There will be
            > charges of plots and hidden agendas from those who are against the
            > change. In the old days, the folks who opposed change would call the
            > people who were for the change "communists." That would make
            > the people who were for the change furious, and then the fur would
            > really start to fly. I remember one time when I was a kid, a group
            > wanted the town to put fluoride in the drinking water to fight tooth
            > decay. Feelings ran so high that after one public meeting, there was a
            > fist fight behind Borough Hall. Hopefully things today won't reach
            > that point, but even if they do, ultimately, the town will calm down,
            > and things will return to normal. "Normal" here is a town made
            > up mostly of middle class families who prize education and who do
            > everything they can to see that their kids get the best possible start
            > in life.
            >
            >
            >
            > A little history may be helpful. Haddonfield has always been "an
            > education community." The second community building in town built
            > by the Quakers in the mid 1700s was a school. It's still there
            > today on Haddon Avenue. The first comprehensive public high school was
            > built in the early 1900s at the site where the middle school is now. It
            > was next to the railroad station, and in addition to Haddonfield teens,
            > students came by train from as far as Hammonton and Medford for the
            > chance to attend high school. In those days, everything east of here
            > was very rural, and there was no education beyond the elementary level.
            >
            >
            >
            > The current high school main building opened in the 1920s, and all the
            > schools in town were expanded in the decades from the 50s through the
            > 80s. The reason for this is that the nurture of growing families was,
            > and still is, Haddonfield's major function as a community. The
            > people who have lived here over the years have recognized this and have
            > been prudent in making long term investments that have resulted in the
            > outstanding quality of the public educational system we have today.
            >
            >
            >
            > In light of the continuing family nurture function of our community, I
            > have reached the conclusion that it is in the public interest to buy the
            > Bancroft site. Here are my reasons for this conclusion:
            >
            >
            >
            > 1. Bancroft is a willing seller. I am not a Bancroft insider. I have
            > not communicated with anyone at Bancroft in many years, but I am
            > familiar with the situation having been employed there in the late 1950s
            > and again in the 1970s. My observation is that over the last several
            > decades attitudes of the residents of the surrounding neighborhoods have
            > become increasingly antagonistic toward Bancroft. It appears to me that
            > the people responsible for Bancroft have decided that enough is enough
            > and that it is in their interest to move to less contentious
            > surroundings.
            >
            >
            >
            > 2. Having the Borough and the Board of Education acquire the site will
            > preserve the maximum number of public options for the future. There
            > isn't any more land in Haddonfield, and with Bancroft currently
            > being a willing seller, the town has a one-time opportunity. If we
            > don't get this parcel into public hands now, some other use will
            > emerge, and the property will be lost to future public use.
            >
            >
            >
            > 3. The Borough does not have enough space to handle the increased needs
            > brought about by the expansion of Title IX. Title IX mandates as a
            > basic civil right that female athletes have equal facilities with male
            > athletes. Our present fields are doing double and triple duty and have
            > become seriously inadequate as women's sports have expanded. (I
            > talked about this in more detail in a posting on HT a couple of weeks
            > ago.)
            >
            >
            >
            > 4. The lack of an adequate campus increases the likelihood that HMHS
            > could be phased out as a comprehensive high school as part of school
            > district consolidation. Nobody wants to talk about it, but the State of
            > New Jersey is on the verge of bankruptcy. Knowledgeable people think
            > that consolidation of the smaller municipalities and school districts is
            > inevitable.
            >
            > In the view of prudent people, this prospect is no longer a question of
            > if, but when. When the State can no longer pay its bills, the bankers
            > will hold a gun to the heads of the legislators, and, since bankruptcy
            > is not a viable option, the legislators' only recourse will be
            > massive restructuring of State operations. One of the State's major
            > cost centers is public schools. Consolidation is the clearest way to
            > eliminate costly duplication of services and administrative overhead.
            > When it happens, consolidation will probably follow a model like what
            > Pennsylvania did in the 1950s when it abolished all existing school
            > districts and redrew district lines so that no district would have less
            > than 5,000 students and most would have substantially more.
            >
            > While nobody can say at this point exactly what will happen here in New
            > Jersey, an adequate campus would do much to assure that we would keep a
            > full high school operating here in town.
            >
            >
            >
            > 4. Property values in Haddonfield stay high in large part because of
            > our strong public schools. All you have to do is to look at
            > Merchantville to see what happens when a town loses its high school.
            > Through the 1960s while it had a comprehensive school district,
            > Merchantville's property values were about the same or even a little
            > higher than Haddonfield's. Once their high school was consolidated
            > and the kids went to Pennsauken, the property values dropped
            > significantly. Today, the same house in Merchantville is valued at
            > about 2/3 of what it is in Haddonfield. Merchantville was simply no
            > longer as desirable a place to raise kids, and property values dropped.
            > The same thing could happen in Haddonfield if we were to lose HMHS.
            >
            >
            >
            > 5. Haddonfield has always been about raising kids. Most of the houses
            > here are designed for families with children. People consciously choose
            > to move to Haddonfield and to pay our higher taxes because our public
            > schools continue to be among the best in the nation. The schools also
            > continue to be an incredible bargain.
            >
            > The most recent national average figures for annual private
            > non-sectarian school tuition rates are $15,945 for elementary and
            > $27,302 for secondary (http://www.capenet.org/facts.html
            > ). This means that the cost of
            > educating one child K-12 in private school today would be: $252,713, or
            > to put it another way, if you have two kids in school, it is going to
            > cost you anywhere from $35,000 to $50,000 a year to get the kind of
            > quality you get for just your taxes here in Haddonfield.
            >
            > If we invest in acquiring the Bancroft site, we will do much to assure
            > that Haddonfield will continue to be a place that attracts people who
            > have a high regard for education and who see our educational system as
            > real value. This means that the demand for housing and the value of our
            > housing stock will stay high.
            >
            >
            >
            > 6. It's a myth that the town is discriminating against our seniors.
            > As I said, I'm an old guy, and a lot of my friends are old too. I
            > have lived here all my life. I am not broken up about the thought of
            > having to move out of the five (maybe six) bedroom house that my wife
            > and I share. Our kids are long gone, and the place is too damn big for
            > just the two of us. It costs us way too much to stay here, but inertia
            > and grandkids in the area keep us rooted in the old place. We know that
            > one day we will have to move. There are plenty of apartments and condos
            > in town and in the area, and moving outside the Borough boundaries when
            > you're our age does not mean that you are one bit less a part of the
            > community. The community, after all, is not the government –
            > it's people. As a friend of mine says, "I now sleep in Cherry
            > Hill, but I still live in Haddonfield." Most of the folks I know
            > who have moved feel the same way. They still participate in whatever
            > aspects of Haddonfield life they choose. So it seems to me that the
            > senior citizen argument is not nearly the issue some people make it out
            > to be.
            >
            >
            >
            > 7. Closing Thoughts: The acquisition of the Bancroft property will do
            > much to give Haddonfield the ability to maintain its position as a
            > leading education community. The acquisition does involve making some
            > changes and spending some money. It takes courage to confront change.
            > Haddonfielders have been courageous in the past. The quality of life we
            > enjoy today is not an accident. It is the result of many generations of
            > Haddonfielders who have had the courage to invest and reinvest in the
            > quality of life in our community.
            >
            > While I probably won't be around to see the long term outcomes of
            > the upcoming decision, I profoundly hope that as a community we will
            > have the courage to maintain our tradition of being forward looking.
            > One way to do that is to vote YES on the upcoming referendum.
            >
            >
            >
            > And Finally: Thank you NJWebWiz for your honest question. I hope that
            > the foregoing comments help you to understand a little more of the
            > larger context in which the current debate is taking place. From the
            > way you raise the question, I know you will give the matter thoughtful
            > consideration.
            >
            >
            >
            > I send you my best wishes, and my sincere hope that life for you and
            > your family here in town is as fulfilling as it has been for me and my
            > family.
            >
            >
            >
            > Bill Reynolds
            >
          • David Siedell
            NJWebWiz, Your posts are great discussion starters and this one has quite a few. One person answering this would take a book (well almost!) I ll tackle a few
            Message 5 of 9 , Jan 10, 2013
              NJWebWiz,
              Your posts are great discussion starters and this one has quite a few. One person answering this would take a book (well almost!)

              I'll tackle a few of the easier ones and leave some for Bill R. or others.


              >>> Question: Do they pay property taxes or are they exempt? If they do pay, how does their rate compare to what the town would receive if the property was purchased by a developer who built residential properties?

              Bancroft does not pay property taxes, never have. They do not pay any pilot (payment in lieu of taxes) either. The Borough sees no revenue currently from those 2 parcels of land but does incur some costs. Mainly police, fire/ambulance and public works like trash and such.


              >>> Question: If the BOE loses the vote, what happens? Can Bancroft sell to another party? Has any party expressed an interest? What are the zoning restrictions?

              Bancroft as a private property owner has the right to sell to anyone. However their CEO has publicly stated that if the BOE is not successful then they will immediately start the process to begin renovation and expansion plans on the existing site. This issue has been going on for over a decade. They must either move or improve and push has come to shove. If the vote is down the property is no longer for sale (according to their CEO).

              As for zoning the area is R2 residential (lot sizes are about 1/2 acre minimum). The 2 parcels could reasonably support about 12 homes if bancroft were leveled. In this market a builder after buying Bancroft, spending a few million to level the existing properties (basing this number from BOE's estimate on clearing land for open space) building new houses and selling them (probably around 650k each for a total of 7.8 Million) would never break even. Bancroft won't sell that low so house will never happen there. However Bancroft is a pre-existing non-conforming property. It can sell and some one else can buy it and improve the exisitng buildings and footprints. As a "campus" its value is much higher, but with fewer interested buyers. It is a case of the sum of the land is greater than its parts. Houses are not high density development. What Bancroft wants to do or any other interested party as a current institutional use IS.

              >>> Question: If Bancroft was happy and had no interest in moving, wouldn't the HHMS issues (whatever they are; over-crowding, future expansion needs, title 9, etc.) *still* exist? If so, how would the town/BOE deal with them? Surely some solution would be found, no?

              Well, hello Radnor Field. This question is the very reason School Districts own land. Ever wonder why Elementry Schools (really any school) has over twice the land than what the building covers? It is not because they want playgrounds and open space, that is a fortunate side effect. It is so that when the building get replaced (and at SOME point is every building's future that is true) you can build a new building while the other is in use at the same location.

              Right now the High School property is not large enough to build its replacement at the same location and any future expansion (if Bancroft stays) means no more fields at all and probably no more houses near the Gym. That is what happened in the past. Eminent Domain was used to take houses for the last expansion of the building.

              Even if we own Bancroft, that is just enough expansion for that one building. With regional-ization to keep us as a receiving district we would probably need to expand the middle school too, or another elementary school. If that were the case a whole lot of towns would be paying for those buildings either directly during construction or over time as they gave us chunks of their property taxes (this is how regional highschools work today).

              This is also the reason why the BOE would never sell Radnor. It can't. It doesn't know if or when they will need that land. For a school district to sell land they have a great many hoops to jump to prove that not only do they not need the land, they will NEVER need the land. Not only can't Haddonfield's BOE prove they would never need it, the better chance, because of regional-ization is that some day they will.


              I'll leave it there.

              David Siedell
            • wwrjr1939
              Thanks, John. Your questions are good ones. I ll reply in blue and in the body of your email. ... moments to give us the 5 sentence history of Crows Woods and
              Message 6 of 9 , Jan 10, 2013


                Thanks, John. Your questions are good ones.  I'll reply in blue and in the body of your email. 

                --- In HaddonfieldTalks@yahoogroups.com, John Kawczynski wrote:
                >
                >
                > Bill,
                >
                > As someone who as seen it all over the years, could you spend a few moments to give us the 5 sentence history of Crows Woods and how/when/why it was acquired? I've heard many long-time residents say it was a dump at one point; is that true?  When the subject of Crows Woods and the dump comes up, there is  risk of my soundin g self-serving.  I served as Commissioner of Public Works from 1973 to 1977.  I used to joke that as somebody who was a career educator I had substituted my interest in the 3Rs with having to learn all about the 3Ts -- trees, toilets, and trash.   The dump or "sanitary landfill" was where the playing fields are now and beyond it wwas Crows Woods.  My two fellow commissioners thought it would be a good idea to close the dump, and sell it and Crows Woods to a developer.  I talked with the Planning Board, and we collectively decided that this was a bad idea, so we floated the notion of making the dump a dedicated park.  Of course, people thought we were nuts, but we went ahead and got enough of a head of steam behind the idea that the other commissioners gave in.  When people at the time asked why a park, I told them that the only amenity we did not have in town was a good sking hell, and that we were going to build Mt. Trashmore.  Most walked away scratching their heads a my lunatic ideas.  A couple of years after I left office, the State instituted very tight regulations on landfills and my successors decided wisely to close the landfill.  Then under the vision of a retired Walt Saladek a retired planner for the US Nationl Park. Service and a group of very hard working Haddonfielders, over the next several decades work was completed to give us the very nice fields we have there today.  A final note about that area.  It makes great playing fields, but because of its history as a landfill, it is not really suitable for much else.    
                >
                > Also could you discuss the vote to create the historic preservation district in the early 1970s?
                I am really not a good source on the Historic District vote because I was not a part of that effort.  If memory serves me correctly, Joan Aiken and the Haddonfield Preservation Society were among the prime movers on that initiative.  Frankly, we were busy during those years raising a very active family, and the historic issues were just not a priority with us.

                 No matter which way the vote goes, I think this Bancroft vote is as historic the future of our community as those two events. 
                I could not agree more.  It is one of those watershed moments that comes along only once in a lifetime.  The question is whether our citizens will have the constitutional fortitude to seize the moment.  That's why we have referendums. 

                Thanks again for your great questions.

                Bill Reynolds

                 >
                > John Kawczynski
                >
                >
                >
                > -----Original Message-----
                > From: wwrjr1939
                > To: HaddonfieldTalks
                > Sent: Thu, Jan 10, 2013 12:37 am
                > Subject: [HaddonfieldTalks] To NJWebWiz re Bancroft Issues
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                > To NJWebWiz:
                >
                > Your question: "What's going on with Bancroft?" could not have been more timely. As you can see from the many responses to your posting yesterday, you really hit a "hot" button.
                >
                > I'm an old guy. I have lived here almost all of my 74 years, and I have seen "hot" issue controversies come and go. These controversies almost always involve a proposed local change. Clearly, the upcoming referendum and the possible change that will come if it passes fall into the "hot" category.
                >
                > Here's what usually happens with "hot" change issues. The arguments on both sides will become very passionate. There will be charges of plots and hidden agendas from those who are against the change. In the old days, the folks who opposed change would call the people who were for the change "communists." That would make the people who were for the change furious, and then the fur would really start to fly. I remember one time when I was a kid, a group wanted the town to put fluoride in the drinking water to fight tooth decay. Feelings ran so high that after one public meeting, there was a fist fight behind Borough Hall. Hopefully things today won't reach that point, but even if they do, ultimately, the town will calm down, and things will return to normal. "Normal" here is a town made up mostly of middle class families who prize education and who do everything they can to see that their kids get the best possible start in life.
                >
                > A little history may be helpful. Haddonfield has always been "an education community." The second community building in town built by the Quakers in the mid 1700s was a school. It's still there today on Haddon Avenue. The first comprehensive public high school was built in the early 1900s at the site where the middle school is now. It was next to the railroad station, and in addition to Haddonfield teens, students came by train from as far as Hammonton and Medford for the chance to attend high school. In those days, everything east of here was very rural, and there was no education beyond the elementary level.
                >
                > The current high school main building opened in the 1920s, and all the schools in town were expanded in the decades from the 50s through the 80s. The reason for this is that the nurture of growing families was, and still is, Haddonfield's major function as a community. The people who have lived here over the years have recognized this and have been prudent in making long term investments that have resulted in the outstanding quality of the public educational system we have today.
                >
                > In light of the continuing family nurture function of our community, I have reached the conclusion that it is in the public interest to buy the Bancroft site. Here are my reasons for this conclusion:
                >
                > 1. Bancroft is a willing seller. I am not a Bancroft insider. I have not communicated with anyone at Bancroft in many years, but I am familiar with the situation having been employed there in the late 1950s and again in the 1970s. My observation is that over the last several decades attitudes of the residents of the surrounding neighborhoods have become increasingly antagonistic toward Bancroft. It appears to me that the people responsible for Bancroft have decided that enough is enough and that it is in their interest to move to less contentious surroundings.
                >
                > 2. Having the Borough and the Board of Education acquire the site will preserve the maximum number of public options for the future. There isn't any more land in Haddonfield, and with Bancroft currently being a willing seller, the town has a one-time opportunity. If we don't get this parcel into public hands now, some other use will emerge, and the property will be lost to future public use.
                >
                > 3. The Borough does not have enough space to handle the increased needs brought about by the expansion of Title IX. Title IX mandates as a basic civil right that female athletes have equal facilities with male athletes. Our present fields are doing double and triple duty and have become seriously inadequate as women's sports have expanded. (I talked about this in more detail in a posting on HT a couple of weeks ago.)
                >
                > 4. The lack of an adequate campus increases the likelihood that HMHS could be phased out as a comprehensive high school as part of school district consolidation. Nobody wants to talk about it, but the State of New Jersey is on the verge of bankruptcy. Knowledgeable people think that consolidation of the smaller municipalities and school districts is inevitable.
                > In the view of prudent people, this prospect is no longer a question of if, but when. When the State can no longer pay its bills, the bankers will hold a gun to the heads of the legislators, and, since bankruptcy is not a viable option, the legislators' only recourse will be massive restructuring of State operations. One of the State's major cost centers is public schools. Consolidation is the clearest way to eliminate costly duplication of services and administrative overhead. When it happens, consolidation will probably follow a model like what Pennsylvania did in the 1950s when it abolished all existing school districts and redrew district lines so that no district would have less than 5,000 students and most would have substantially more.
                > While nobody can say at this point exactly what will happen here in New Jersey, an adequate campus would do much to assure that we would keep a full high school operating here in town.
                >
                > 4. Property values in Haddonfield stay high in large part because of our strong public schools. All you have to do is to look at Merchantville to see what happens when a town loses its high school. Through the 1960s while it had a comprehensive school district, Merchantville's property values were about the same or even a little higher than Haddonfield's. Once their high school was consolidated and the kids went to Pennsauken, the property values dropped significantly. Today, the same house in Merchantville is valued at about 2/3 of what it is in Haddonfield. Merchantville was simply no longer as desirable a place to raise kids, and property values dropped. The same thing could happen in Haddonfield if we were to lose HMHS.
                >
                > 5. Haddonfield has always been about raising kids. Most of the houses here are designed for families with children. People consciously choose to move to Haddonfield and to pay our higher taxes because our public schools continue to be among the best in the nation. The schools also continue to be an incredible bargain.
                > The most recent national average figures for annual private non-sectarian school tuition rates are $15,945 for elementary and $27,302 for secondary (http://www.capenet.org/facts.html). This means that the cost of educating one child K-12 in private school today would be: $252,713, or to put it another way, if you have two kids in school, it is going to cost you anywhere from $35,000 to $50,000 a year to get the kind of quality you get for just your taxes here in Haddonfield.
                > If we invest in acquiring the Bancroft site, we will do much to assure that Haddonfield will continue to be a place that attracts people who have a high regard for education and who see our educational system as real value. This means that the demand for housing and the value of our housing stock will stay high.
                >
                > 6. It's a myth that the town is discriminating against our seniors. As I said, I'm an old guy, and a lot of my friends are old too. I have lived here all my life. I am not broken up about the thought of having to move out of the five (maybe six) bedroom house that my wife and I share. Our kids are long gone, and the place is too damn big for just the two of us. It costs us way too much to stay here, but inertia and grandkids in the area keep us rooted in the old place. We know that one day we will have to move. There are plenty of apartments and condos in town and in the area, and moving outside the Borough boundaries when you're our age does not mean that you are one bit less a part of the community. The community, after all, is not the government – it's people. As a friend of mine says, "I now sleep in Cherry Hill, but I still live in Haddonfield." Most of the folks I know who have moved feel the same way. They still participate in whatever aspects of Haddonfield life they choose. So it seems to me that the senior citizen argument is not nearly the issue some people make it out to be.
                >
                > 7. Closing Thoughts: The acquisition of the Bancroft property will do much to give Haddonfield the ability to maintain its position as a leading education community. The acquisition does involve making some changes and spending some money. It takes courage to confront change. Haddonfielders have been courageous in the past. The quality of life we enjoy today is not an accident. It is the result of many generations of Haddonfielders who have had the courage to invest and reinvest in the quality of life in our community.
                > While I probably won't be around to see the long term outcomes of the upcoming decision, I profoundly hope that as a community we will have the courage to maintain our tradition of being forward looking. One way to do that is to vote YES on the upcoming referendum.
                >
                > And Finally: Thank you NJWebWiz for your honest question. I hope that the foregoing comments help you to understand a little more of the larger context in which the current debate is taking place. From the way you raise the question, I know you will give the matter thoughtful consideration.
                >
                > I send you my best wishes, and my sincere hope that life for you and your family here in town is as fulfilling as it has been for me and my family.
                >
                > Bill Reynolds
                >
                >
                >
                > To NJWebWiz:
                >
                > Your question: "What's going on with Bancroft?" could not have been more timely. As you can see from the many responses to your posting yesterday, you really hit a "hot" button.
                >
                > I'm an old guy. I have lived here almost all of my 74 years, and I have seen "hot" issue controversies come and go. These controversies almost always involve a proposed local change. Clearly, the upcoming referendum and the possible change that will come if it passes fall into the "hot" category.
                >
                > Here's what usually happens with "hot" change issues. The arguments on both sides will become very passionate. There will be charges of plots and hidden agendas from those who are against the change. In the old days, the folks who opposed change would call the people who were for the change "communists." That would make the people who were for the change furious, and then the fur would really start to fly. I remember one time when I was a kid, a group wanted the town to put fluoride in the drinking water to fight tooth decay. Feelings ran so high that after one public meeting, there was a fist fight behind Borough Hall. Hopefully things today won't reach that point, but even if they do, ultimately, the town will calm down, and things will return to normal. "Normal" here is a town made up mostly of middle class families who prize education and who do everything they can to see that their kids get the best possible start in life.
                >
                > A little history may be helpful. Haddonfield has always been "an education community." The second community building in town built by the Quakers in the mid 1700s was a school. It's still there today on Haddon Avenue. The first comprehensive public high school was built in the early 1900s at the site where the middle school is now. It was next to the railroad station, and in addition to Haddonfield teens, students came by train from as far as Hammonton and Medford for the chance to attend high school. In those days, everything east of here was very rural, and there was no education beyond the elementary level.
                >
                > The current high school main building opened in the 1920s, and all the schools in town were expanded in the decades from the 50s through the 80s. The reason for this is that the nurture of growing families was, and still is, Haddonfield's major function as a community. The people who have lived here over the years have recognized this and have been prudent in making long term investments that have resulted in the outstanding quality of the public educational system we have today.
                >
                > In light of the continuing family nurture function of our community, I have reached the conclusion that it is in the public interest to buy the Bancroft site. Here are my reasons for this conclusion:
                >
                > 1. Bancroft is a willing seller. I am not a Bancroft insider. I have not communicated with anyone at Bancroft in many years, but I am familiar with the situation having been employed there in the late 1950s and again in the 1970s. My observation is that over the last several decades attitudes of the residents of the surrounding neighborhoods have become increasingly antagonistic toward Bancroft. It appears to me that the people responsible for Bancroft have decided that enough is enough and that it is in their interest to move to less contentious surroundings.
                >
                > 2. Having the Borough and the Board of Education acquire the site will preserve the maximum number of public options for the future. There isn't any more land in Haddonfield, and with Bancroft currently being a willing seller, the town has a one-time opportunity. If we don't get this parcel into public hands now, some other use will emerge, and the property will be lost to future public use.
                >
                > 3. The Borough does not have enough space to handle the increased needs brought about by the expansion of Title IX. Title IX mandates as a basic civil right that female athletes have equal facilities with male athletes. Our present fields are doing double and triple duty and have become seriously inadequate as women's sports have expanded. (I talked about this in more detail in a posting on HT a couple of weeks ago.)
                >
                > 4. The lack of an adequate campus increases the likelihood that HMHS could be phased out as a comprehensive high school as part of school district consolidation. Nobody wants to talk about it, but the State of New Jersey is on the verge of bankruptcy. Knowledgeable people think that consolidation of the smaller municipalities and school districts is inevitable.
                > In the view of prudent people, this prospect is no longer a question of if, but when. When the State can no longer pay its bills, the bankers will hold a gun to the heads of the legislators, and, since bankruptcy is not a viable option, the legislators' only recourse will be massive restructuring of State operations. One of the State's major cost centers is public schools. Consolidation is the clearest way to eliminate costly duplication of services and administrative overhead. When it happens, consolidation will probably follow a model like what Pennsylvania did in the 1950s when it abolished all existing school districts and redrew district lines so that no district would have less than 5,000 students and most would have substantially more.
                > While nobody can say at this point exactly what will happen here in New Jersey, an adequate campus would do much to assure that we would keep a full high school operating here in town.
                >
                > 4. Property values in Haddonfield stay high in large part because of our strong public schools. All you have to do is to look at Merchantville to see what happens when a town loses its high school. Through the 1960s while it had a comprehensive school district, Merchantville's property values were about the same or even a little higher than Haddonfield's. Once their high school was consolidated and the kids went to Pennsauken, the property values dropped significantly. Today, the same house in Merchantville is valued at about 2/3 of what it is in Haddonfield. Merchantville was simply no longer as desirable a place to raise kids, and property values dropped. The same thing could happen in Haddonfield if we were to lose HMHS.
                >
                > 5. Haddonfield has always been about raising kids. Most of the houses here are designed for families with children. People consciously choose to move to Haddonfield and to pay our higher taxes because our public schools continue to be among the best in the nation. The schools also continue to be an incredible bargain.
                > The most recent national average figures for annual private non-sectarian school tuition rates are $15,945 for elementary and $27,302 for secondary (http://www.capenet.org/facts.html). This means that the cost of educating one child K-12 in private school today would be: $252,713, or to put it another way, if you have two kids in school, it is going to cost you anywhere from $35,000 to $50,000 a year to get the kind of quality you get for just your taxes here in Haddonfield.
                > If we invest in acquiring the Bancroft site, we will do much to assure that Haddonfield will continue to be a place that attracts people who have a high regard for education and who see our educational system as real value. This means that the demand for housing and the value of our housing stock will stay high.
                >
                > 6. It's a myth that the town is discriminating against our seniors. As I said, I'm an old guy, and a lot of my friends are old too. I have lived here all my life. I am not broken up about the thought of having to move out of the five (maybe six) bedroom house that my wife and I share. Our kids are long gone, and the place is too damn big for just the two of us. It costs us way too much to stay here, but inertia and grandkids in the area keep us rooted in the old place. We know that one day we will have to move. There are plenty of apartments and condos in town and in the area, and moving outside the Borough boundaries when you're our age does not mean that you are one bit less a part of the community. The community, after all, is not the government – it's people. As a friend of mine says, "I now sleep in Cherry Hill, but I still live in Haddonfield." Most of the folks I know who have moved feel the same way. They still participate in whatever aspects of Haddonfield life they choose. So it seems to me that the senior citizen argument is not nearly the issue some people make it out to be.
                >
                > 7. Closing Thoughts: The acquisition of the Bancroft property will do much to give Haddonfield the ability to maintain its position as a leading education community. The acquisition does involve making some changes and spending some money. It takes courage to confront change. Haddonfielders have been courageous in the past. The quality of life we enjoy today is not an accident. It is the result of many generations of Haddonfielders who have had the courage to invest and reinvest in the quality of life in our community.
                > While I probably won't be around to see the long term outcomes of the upcoming decision, I profoundly hope that as a community we will have the courage to maintain our tradition of being forward looking. One way to do that is to vote YES on the upcoming referendum.
                >
                > And Finally: Thank you NJWebWiz for your honest question. I hope that the foregoing comments help you to understand a little more of the larger context in which the current debate is taking place. From the way you raise the question, I know you will give the matter thoughtful consideration.
                >
                > I send you my best wishes, and my sincere hope that life for you and your family here in town is as fulfilling as it has been for me and my family.
                >
                > Bill Reynolds
                >

              • NJWebWiz
                Thanks for the answers, David. Here are my new understandings: 1. Bancroft pays $0 to the town, but does incur some incremental costs (police, fire, trash,
                Message 7 of 9 , Jan 10, 2013
                  Thanks for the answers, David. Here are my new understandings:

                  1. Bancroft pays $0 to the town, but does incur some incremental costs (police, fire, trash, etc.)

                  2. Bancroft probably cannot sell to a developer (asking price too high for developer to make a profit).

                  3. If BOE loses, Bancroft will stay and improve property.

                  So there's really no scenario where the town would see increased property tax revenue. I think it boils down to "how much would the BOE purchase *really* cost residents (actual is always > predicted!) and what do we get for it?" Then we each have to decide if the benefits (open space, park, room for HHMS expansion, etc.) is worth the cost.


                  --- In HaddonfieldTalks@yahoogroups.com, "David Siedell" wrote:
                  >
                  > NJWebWiz,
                  > Your posts are great discussion starters and this one has quite a few. One person answering this would take a book (well almost!)
                  >
                  > I'll tackle a few of the easier ones and leave some for Bill R. or others.
                  >
                  >
                  > >>> Question: Do they pay property taxes or are they exempt? If they do pay, how does their rate compare to what the town would receive if the property was purchased by a developer who built residential properties?
                  >
                  > Bancroft does not pay property taxes, never have. They do not pay any pilot (payment in lieu of taxes) either. The Borough sees no revenue currently from those 2 parcels of land but does incur some costs. Mainly police, fire/ambulance and public works like trash and such.
                  >
                  >
                  > >>> Question: If the BOE loses the vote, what happens? Can Bancroft sell to another party? Has any party expressed an interest? What are the zoning restrictions?
                  >
                  > Bancroft as a private property owner has the right to sell to anyone. However their CEO has publicly stated that if the BOE is not successful then they will immediately start the process to begin renovation and expansion plans on the existing site. This issue has been going on for over a decade. They must either move or improve and push has come to shove. If the vote is down the property is no longer for sale (according to their CEO).
                  >
                  > As for zoning the area is R2 residential (lot sizes are about 1/2 acre minimum). The 2 parcels could reasonably support about 12 homes if bancroft were leveled. In this market a builder after buying Bancroft, spending a few million to level the existing properties (basing this number from BOE's estimate on clearing land for open space) building new houses and selling them (probably around 650k each for a total of 7.8 Million) would never break even. Bancroft won't sell that low so house will never happen there. However Bancroft is a pre-existing non-conforming property. It can sell and some one else can buy it and improve the exisitng buildings and footprints. As a "campus" its value is much higher, but with fewer interested buyers. It is a case of the sum of the land is greater than its parts. Houses are not high density development. What Bancroft wants to do or any other interested party as a current institutional use IS.
                  >
                  > >>> Question: If Bancroft was happy and had no interest in moving, wouldn't the HHMS issues (whatever they are; over-crowding, future expansion needs, title 9, etc.) *still* exist? If so, how would the town/BOE deal with them? Surely some solution would be found, no?
                  >
                  > Well, hello Radnor Field. This question is the very reason School Districts own land. Ever wonder why Elementry Schools (really any school) has over twice the land than what the building covers? It is not because they want playgrounds and open space, that is a fortunate side effect. It is so that when the building get replaced (and at SOME point is every building's future that is true) you can build a new building while the other is in use at the same location.
                  >
                  > Right now the High School property is not large enough to build its replacement at the same location and any future expansion (if Bancroft stays) means no more fields at all and probably no more houses near the Gym. That is what happened in the past. Eminent Domain was used to take houses for the last expansion of the building.
                  >
                  > Even if we own Bancroft, that is just enough expansion for that one building. With regional-ization to keep us as a receiving district we would probably need to expand the middle school too, or another elementary school. If that were the case a whole lot of towns would be paying for those buildings either directly during construction or over time as they gave us chunks of their property taxes (this is how regional highschools work today).
                  >
                  > This is also the reason why the BOE would never sell Radnor. It can't. It doesn't know if or when they will need that land. For a school district to sell land they have a great many hoops to jump to prove that not only do they not need the land, they will NEVER need the land. Not only can't Haddonfield's BOE prove they would never need it, the better chance, because of regional-ization is that some day they will.
                  >
                  >
                  > I'll leave it there.
                  >
                  > David Siedell
                  >
                • wwrjr1939
                  Bill, chiming into the discussion:- ... (police, fire, trash, etc.) The Borough provides police and fire protection. I think (not 100% sure) that Bancroft
                  Message 8 of 9 , Jan 10, 2013


                    Bill, chiming into the discussion:-

                    -- In HaddonfieldTalks@yahoogroups.com, "NJWebWiz" wrote:

                    >
                    > Thanks for the answers, David. Here are my new understandings:
                    >
                    > 1. Bancroft pays $0 to the town, but does incur some incremental costs (police, fire, trash, etc.)  The Borough provides police and fire protection.  I think (not 100% sure) that Bancroft uses a private trash service.
                    >
                    > 2. Bancroft probably cannot sell to a developer (asking price too high for developer to make a profit).
                    Maybe and maybe not.  I am not a lawyer, but there are certain kinds of developments that are almost impossible to fight with single family zoning laws, especially in view of the fact that the use of the property in question is so long that it predates the incorporation of the Borough of Haddonfield as a municipality.  In other word, Bancroft was here before Haddonfield was an entity.  If a developer wanted to use it for something else, like a retirement community, there would be a big wrangle in the courts, but the current restrictive zoning could probably be broken.  Continuing care retirement communities do pay property taxes.

                    >
                    > 3. If BOE loses, Bancroft will stay and improve property.

                    That's what Bancroft has said.>

                    > So there's really no scenario where the town would see increased property tax revenue. I think it boils down to "how much would the BOE purchase *really* cost residents (actual is always > predicted!) and what do we get for it?" Then we each have to decide if the benefits (open space, park, room for HHMS expansion, etc.) is worth the cost.

                    It sounds like you pretty much hve this right, but I've been around a long time, and just when I think I understand everything and get it right, some new factor always seems to pop up.  The question at this point really is whether we value the future of the community enough to spend an extra couple of hundred dollars a year in taxes.  I look at it the way I look at  buying  insurance.  We don't know precisely what the future will bring, but  if we seize the opportunity by acquiring the Bancroft site, the community will give ourselves some options to control our own future instead of being dictated to.  Nobody knew when we dedicated the dump as a park that the State would pass new laws just a couple of years later and could have come swooping in and taken over.   Because we had dedicated the entire parcel as a park, we had other options.  We had insurance.  If we hadn't. already said it was a park (even though it was, in fact, a dump), we might have a big trash processing station there today instead of the fields.  I think it was Ben Franklin who said: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."  It seems to me that Bancroft is this generation's opportunity to get our ounce..>
                    >
                    > --- In HaddonfieldTalks@yahoogroups.com, "David Siedell" wrote:
                    > >
                    > > NJWebWiz,
                    > > Your posts are great discussion starters and this one has quite a few. One person answering this would take a book (well almost!)
                    > >
                    > > I'll tackle a few of the easier ones and leave some for Bill R. or others.
                    > >
                    > >
                    > > >>> Question: Do they pay property taxes or are they exempt? If they do pay, how does their rate compare to what the town would receive if the property was purchased by a developer who built residential properties?
                    > >
                    > > Bancroft does not pay property taxes, never have. They do not pay any pilot (payment in lieu of taxes) either. The Borough sees no revenue currently from those 2 parcels of land but does incur some costs. Mainly police, fire/ambulance and public works like trash and such.
                    > >
                    > >
                    > > >>> Question: If the BOE loses the vote, what happens? Can Bancroft sell to another party? Has any party expressed an interest? What are the zoning restrictions?
                    > >
                    > > Bancroft as a private property owner has the right to sell to anyone. However their CEO has publicly stated that if the BOE is not successful then they will immediately start the process to begin renovation and expansion plans on the existing site. This issue has been going on for over a decade. They must either move or improve and push has come to shove. If the vote is down the property is no longer for sale (according to their CEO).
                    > >
                    > > As for zoning the area is R2 residential (lot sizes are about 1/2 acre minimum). The 2 parcels could reasonably support about 12 homes if bancroft were leveled. In this market a builder after buying Bancroft, spending a few million to level the existing properties (basing this number from BOE's estimate on clearing land for open space) building new houses and selling them (probably around 650k each for a total of 7.8 Million) would never break even. Bancroft won't sell that low so house will never happen there. However Bancroft is a pre-existing non-conforming property. It can sell and some one else can buy it and improve the exisitng buildings and footprints. As a "campus" its value is much higher, but with fewer interested buyers. It is a case of the sum of the land is greater than its parts. Houses are not high density development. What Bancroft wants to do or any other interested party as a current institutional use IS.
                    > >
                    > > >>> Question: If Bancroft was happy and had no interest in moving, wouldn't the HHMS issues (whatever they are; over-crowding, future expansion needs, title 9, etc.) *still* exist? If so, how would the town/BOE deal with them? Surely some solution would be found, no?
                    > >
                    > > Well, hello Radnor Field. This question is the very reason School Districts own land. Ever wonder why Elementry Schools (really any school) has over twice the land than what the building covers? It is not because they want playgrounds and open space, that is a fortunate side effect. It is so that when the building get replaced (and at SOME point is every building's future that is true) you can build a new building while the other is in use at the same location.
                    > >
                    > > Right now the High School property is not large enough to build its replacement at the same location and any future expansion (if Bancroft stays) means no more fields at all and probably no more houses near the Gym. That is what happened in the past. Eminent Domain was used to take houses for the last expansion of the building.
                    > >
                    > > Even if we own Bancroft, that is just enough expansion for that one building. With regional-ization to keep us as a receiving district we would probably need to expand the middle school too, or another elementary school. If that were the case a whole lot of towns would be paying for those buildings either directly during construction or over time as they gave us chunks of their property taxes (this is how regional highschools work today).
                    > >
                    > > This is also the reason why the BOE would never sell Radnor. It can't. It doesn't know if or when they will need that land. For a school district to sell land they have a great many hoops to jump to prove that not only do they not need the land, they will NEVER need the land. Not only can't Haddonfield's BOE prove they would never need it, the better chance, because of regional-ization is that some day they will.
                    > >
                    > >
                    > > I'll leave it there.
                    > >
                    > > David Siedell
                    > >
                    >
                  • wwrjr1939
                    Hey there, NetWebWiz, I think there are a couple of issues you raised in your response this morning that still have not yet been considered. I ll comment in
                    Message 9 of 9 , Jan 10, 2013

                      Hey there, NetWebWiz,

                       

                      I think there are a couple of issues you raised in your response this morning that still have not yet been considered.  I'll comment in blue.

                       

                      Here's your first:

                       

                      If the BOE wins the vote, they would issue municipal bonds to raise the money for the purchase price, demolition, rebuilding, etc., right? The cost to the town, via increased property taxes, is just the interest payments on those bonds, correct?

                       

                      The bonds would probably be issued by some combination of the BoE and the Borough.  I am not an authority on this area, but as I understand it the actual dollar amount of the bonds will depend on the amount that is available from "Green Acres", "Open Space," and other potential  third-party sources.  With respect to the amortization of the bonds, it is just like your mortgage.  In fact, a bond issue is exactly the same as your home mortgage.  The idea is that the user pays for the property while using it.  The payments are a combination of principal and interest over probably 20 years.  The total amount of the principal reduces with each payment.  Right now is a really good time to get a mortgage or to issue a municipal bond.  Interest rates will never be lower, so the town will pay back far fewer dollars in interest than it will if it borrows money in the future when interest rates are bound to be back to the much higher levels where they normally are.

                       

                      > If Bancroft was happy and had no interest in moving, wouldn't the HHMS issues (whatever they are; over-crowding, future expansion needs, title 9, etc.) *still* exist? If so, how would the town/BOE deal with them? Surely some solution would be found, no?

                       

                      The answer to your question about needs is a resounding YES.  All of these needs would continue to exist.  What to do to deal with them if Bancroft is off the table is a different matter completely.  Of course, the easiest answer would be to do nothing.  But as I have pointed out in earlier comments, doing nothing is very short sighted and could put our community's core identity at risk.

                            I guess other options could be found, but I am not aware that anybody has really looked at them.  My guess is that we haven't looked at them because anything else would involve invasion of existing residential property.  Nobody who is serious wants to take people's houses away from them by eminent domain.  There may be non-invasive options, but I don't know of any.

                       

                      I hope today's responses from the various commenters give you further facts to help you with your decision.  As you so clearly pointed out, I am an advocate for picking up the property, but I know that the best decisions on matters like this come from an open and honest discussion where everything is out on the table.  That's what I have tried to do.

                       

                      Let me know if you have other questions, and I'll do what I can to give you straight information.

                       

                      With best wishes,

                       

                      Bill Reynolds

                       


                       

                      --- In HaddonfieldTalks@yahoogroups.com, "NJWebWiz" wrote:
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      > Bill - Thanks for the history lesson and your insight into the Bancroft situation. I was disappointed in the responses to my post until I got to yours. They seemed mostly partisan and didn't address the questions I asked. You advocate one position, but provide information to support it.
                      >
                      > I have a better grip on the HHMS aspect of the decision, but need to expand my understanding beyond that. So I apologize if the following is too simplistic (or wrong). Here's what I *think* is going on; I'd love to hear comments and corrections...
                      >
                      > > Bancroft doesn't want to be in Haddonfield anymore.
                      >
                      > Whether this is for financial reasons, neighborhood sentiment, or something else doesn't really matter. It's their right to locate wherever they want to. Question: Do they pay property taxes or are they exempt? If they do pay, how does their rate compare to what the town would receive if the property was purchased by a developer who built residential properties?
                      >
                      > > If the BOE wins the vote, they would issue municipal bonds to raise the money for the purchase price, demolition, rebuilding, etc., right? The cost to the town, via increased property taxes, is just the interest payments on those bonds, correct?
                      >
                      > > If the BOE loses the vote, what happens? Can Bancroft sell to another party? Has any party expressed an interest? What are the zoning restrictions?
                      >
                      > I recall some hullabaloo a while back when it looked like a private developer might purchase the land and build houses. Everyone nearby seemed strongly opposed to this; I saw lawn signs warning of "high density development". Why the opposition? Wouldn't more houses provide more property taxes to the town? Or is this a NIMBY situation and/or a subtle argument against lower-income housing that could reduce local property values?
                      >
                      > > If Bancroft was happy and had no interest in moving, wouldn't the HHMS issues (whatever they are; over-crowding, future expansion needs, title 9, etc.) *still* exist? If so, how would the town/BOE deal with them? Surely some solution would be found, no?
                      >
                      > > Worst case scenario for Bancroft: No one wants their property. Then what?
                      >
                      > If the BOE can't get the property, and no other party is willing to pay fair market value, would Bancroft abandon the property? What impact would that have on the town? If they're paying property taxes, we'd lose that revenue, right? And what's the economic impact of their employees and student families on local businesses (restaurants, stores, etc.)? Would that vanish if Bancroft moved or abandoned the property?
                      >
                      > I see three possible outcomes, each with pros and cons. How correct is this:
                      >
                      > 1. BOE wins and buys property.
                      >
                      > Pros...
                      > o Town gets more open space / parkland
                      > o HHMS gets expansion options
                      > o Neighbors happy that high-density development is avoided; property values (presumably) stay high
                      >
                      > Cons...
                      > o Property taxes go up to cover debt service
                      > o Hidden, unexpected costs arise
                      >
                      > 2. BOE loses and private developer buys property
                      >
                      > Pros...
                      > o Increased property tax base boosts town revenue
                      > o Potentially more diversity in schools and town
                      >
                      > Cons...
                      > o Lost opportunity for more open space / parkland
                      > o Lost opportunity for contiguous expanded HHMS
                      > o More load on schools due to more kids
                      > o Neighbors not happy; may see decline in local property values
                      >
                      > 3. Status Quo
                      >
                      > Pros...
                      > o More time to think about situation, explore options and alternatives
                      > o No immediate increase in property taxes (if BOE wins)
                      > o No immediate load on schools (if private developer buys property)
                      > o Cost to acquire property might drop in future years
                      >
                      > Cons...
                      > o We get to fight about this all over again in a few years!
                      > o Cost to acquire property might increase in future years
                      > o Grants to offset cost may not exist in future
                      >
                      >
                      > So even after reading all the comments and thinking about this a lot, I'm still not sure where I stand! I think if there was *no* cost to the town or residents, having the BOE purchase the property would be an easier decision to get behind. So it really comes down to "how much am I as a property taxpayer willing to pay and what do I get for that?" I like the idea of more open space and parkland; I'd be willing to pay something for that, although probably not as much as the numbers I saw. I'm not sure about how much I'd pay to solve the HHMS issues, if they actually aren't solvable any other way (as I asked above, if Bancroft wasn't even on the table, how would HHMS solve the problems?).
                      >
                      > I'm really having an internal conflict between my self-interest (property tax increase) and the community interest (open space, school expansion options).
                      >
                      > Anyway, thanks for your thoughts and comments!
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      > --- In HaddonfieldTalks@yahoogroups.com, "wwrjr1939" wrote:
                      > >
                      > >
                      > > To NJWebWiz:
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > > Your question: "What's going on with Bancroft?" could not have
                      > > been more timely. As you can see from the many responses to your
                      > > posting yesterday, you really hit a "hot" button.
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > > I'm an old guy. I have lived here almost all of my 74 years, and I
                      > > have seen "hot" issue controversies come and go. These
                      > > controversies almost always involve a proposed local change. Clearly,
                      > > the upcoming referendum and the possible change that will come if it
                      > > passes fall into the "hot" category.
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > > Here's what usually happens with "hot" change issues. The
                      > > arguments on both sides will become very passionate. There will be
                      > > charges of plots and hidden agendas from those who are against the
                      > > change. In the old days, the folks who opposed change would call the
                      > > people who were for the change "communists." That would make
                      > > the people who were for the change furious, and then the fur would
                      > > really start to fly. I remember one time when I was a kid, a group
                      > > wanted the town to put fluoride in the drinking water to fight tooth
                      > > decay. Feelings ran so high that after one public meeting, there was a
                      > > fist fight behind Borough Hall. Hopefully things today won't reach
                      > > that point, but even if they do, ultimately, the town will calm down,
                      > > and things will return to normal. "Normal" here is a town made
                      > > up mostly of middle class families who prize education and who do
                      > > everything they can to see that their kids get the best possible start
                      > > in life.
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > > A little history may be helpful. Haddonfield has always been "an
                      > > education community." The second community building in town built
                      > > by the Quakers in the mid 1700s was a school. It's still there
                      > > today on Haddon Avenue. The first comprehensive public high school was
                      > > built in the early 1900s at the site where the middle school is now. It
                      > > was next to the railroad station, and in addition to Haddonfield teens,
                      > > students came by train from as far as Hammonton and Medford for the
                      > > chance to attend high school. In those days, everything east of here
                      > > was very rural, and there was no education beyond the elementary level.
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > > The current high school main building opened in the 1920s, and all the
                      > > schools in town were expanded in the decades from the 50s through the
                      > > 80s. The reason for this is that the nurture of growing families was,
                      > > and still is, Haddonfield's major function as a community. The
                      > > people who have lived here over the years have recognized this and have
                      > > been prudent in making long term investments that have resulted in the
                      > > outstanding quality of the public educational system we have today.
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > > In light of the continuing family nurture function of our community, I
                      > > have reached the conclusion that it is in the public interest to buy the
                      > > Bancroft site. Here are my reasons for this conclusion:
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > > 1. Bancroft is a willing seller. I am not a Bancroft insider. I have
                      > > not communicated with anyone at Bancroft in many years, but I am
                      > > familiar with the situation having been employed there in the late 1950s
                      > > and again in the 1970s. My observation is that over the last several
                      > > decades attitudes of the residents of the surrounding neighborhoods have
                      > > become increasingly antagonistic toward Bancroft. It appears to me that
                      > > the people responsible for Bancroft have decided that enough is enough
                      > > and that it is in their interest to move to less contentious
                      > > surroundings.
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > > 2. Having the Borough and the Board of Education acquire the site will
                      > > preserve the maximum number of public options for the future. There
                      > > isn't any more land in Haddonfield, and with Bancroft currently
                      > > being a willing seller, the town has a one-time opportunity. If we
                      > > don't get this parcel into public hands now, some other use will
                      > > emerge, and the property will be lost to future public use.
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > > 3. The Borough does not have enough space to handle the increased needs
                      > > brought about by the expansion of Title IX. Title IX mandates as a
                      > > basic civil right that female athletes have equal facilities with male
                      > > athletes. Our present fields are doing double and triple duty and have
                      > > become seriously inadequate as women's sports have expanded. (I
                      > > talked about this in more detail in a posting on HT a couple of weeks
                      > > ago.)
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > > 4. The lack of an adequate campus increases the likelihood that HMHS
                      > > could be phased out as a comprehensive high school as part of school
                      > > district consolidation. Nobody wants to talk about it, but the State of
                      > > New Jersey is on the verge of bankruptcy. Knowledgeable people think
                      > > that consolidation of the smaller municipalities and school districts is
                      > > inevitable.
                      > >
                      > > In the view of prudent people, this prospect is no longer a question of
                      > > if, but when. When the State can no longer pay its bills, the bankers
                      > > will hold a gun to the heads of the legislators, and, since bankruptcy
                      > > is not a viable option, the legislators' only recourse will be
                      > > massive restructuring of State operations. One of the State's major
                      > > cost centers is public schools. Consolidation is the clearest way to
                      > > eliminate costly duplication of services and administrative overhead.
                      > > When it happens, consolidation will probably follow a model like what
                      > > Pennsylvania did in the 1950s when it abolished all existing school
                      > > districts and redrew district lines so that no district would have less
                      > > than 5,000 students and most would have substantially more.
                      > >
                      > > While nobody can say at this point exactly what will happen here in New
                      > > Jersey, an adequate campus would do much to assure that we would keep a
                      > > full high school operating here in town.
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > > 4. Property values in Haddonfield stay high in large part because of
                      > > our strong public schools. All you have to do is to look at
                      > > Merchantville to see what happens when a town loses its high school.
                      > > Through the 1960s while it had a comprehensive school district,
                      > > Merchantville's property values were about the same or even a little
                      > > higher than Haddonfield's. Once their high school was consolidated
                      > > and the kids went to Pennsauken, the property values dropped
                      > > significantly. Today, the same house in Merchantville is valued at
                      > > about 2/3 of what it is in Haddonfield. Merchantville was simply no
                      > > longer as desirable a place to raise kids, and property values dropped.
                      > > The same thing could happen in Haddonfield if we were to lose HMHS.
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > > 5. Haddonfield has always been about raising kids. Most of the houses
                      > > here are designed for families with children. People consciously choose
                      > > to move to Haddonfield and to pay our higher taxes because our public
                      > > schools continue to be among the best in the nation. The schools also
                      > > continue to be an incredible bargain.
                      > >
                      > > The most recent national average figures for annual private
                      > > non-sectarian school tuition rates are $15,945 for elementary and
                      > > $27,302 for secondary (http://www.capenet.org/facts.html
                      > > ). This means that the cost of
                      > > educating one child K-12 in private school today would be: $252,713, or
                      > > to put it another way, if you have two kids in school, it is going to
                      > > cost you anywhere from $35,000 to $50,000 a year to get the kind of
                      > > quality you get for just your taxes here in Haddonfield.
                      > >
                      > > If we invest in acquiring the Bancroft site, we will do much to assure
                      > > that Haddonfield will continue to be a place that attracts people who
                      > > have a high regard for education and who see our educational system as
                      > > real value. This means that the demand for housing and the value of our
                      > > housing stock will stay high.
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > > 6. It's a myth that the town is discriminating against our seniors.
                      > > As I said, I'm an old guy, and a lot of my friends are old too. I
                      > > have lived here all my life. I am not broken up about the thought of
                      > > having to move out of the five (maybe six) bedroom house that my wife
                      > > and I share. Our kids are long gone, and the place is too damn big for
                      > > just the two of us. It costs us way too much to stay here, but inertia
                      > > and grandkids in the area keep us rooted in the old place. We know that
                      > > one day we will have to move. There are plenty of apartments and condos
                      > > in town and in the area, and moving outside the Borough boundaries when
                      > > you're our age does not mean that you are one bit less a part of the
                      > > community. The community, after all, is not the government –
                      > > it's people. As a friend of mine says, "I now sleep in Cherry
                      > > Hill, but I still live in Haddonfield." Most of the folks I know
                      > > who have moved feel the same way. They still participate in whatever
                      > > aspects of Haddonfield life they choose. So it seems to me that the
                      > > senior citizen argument is not nearly the issue some people make it out
                      > > to be.
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > > 7. Closing Thoughts: The acquisition of the Bancroft property will do
                      > > much to give Haddonfield the ability to maintain its position as a
                      > > leading education community. The acquisition does involve making some
                      > > changes and spending some money. It takes courage to confront change.
                      > > Haddonfielders have been courageous in the past. The quality of life we
                      > > enjoy today is not an accident. It is the result of many generations of
                      > > Haddonfielders who have had the courage to invest and reinvest in the
                      > > quality of life in our community.
                      > >
                      > > While I probably won't be around to see the long term outcomes of
                      > > the upcoming decision, I profoundly hope that as a community we will
                      > > have the courage to maintain our tradition of being forward looking.
                      > > One way to do that is to vote YES on the upcoming referendum.
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > > And Finally: Thank you NJWebWiz for your honest question. I hope that
                      > > the foregoing comments help you to understand a little more of the
                      > > larger context in which the current debate is taking place. From the
                      > > way you raise the question, I know you will give the matter thoughtful
                      > > consideration.
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > > I send you my best wishes, and my sincere hope that life for you and
                      > > your family here in town is as fulfilling as it has been for me and my
                      > > family.
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > > Bill Reynolds
                      > >
                      >

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