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Partnerships, the Path to Controlling Expenses

Mayoral candidate Bob Conley discusses the value of working together.

Bob Conley, a two-term Council member, is running for Madison mayor this fall.  In a prepared statement, Conley discussed the value of partnerships for funding projects and reducing costs. Conley stated:

“The days of going it alone and not working with partners are long over. There are many factors feeding the property tax challenge in New Jersey, two major ones are the many towns working independently, the other is spending more than you can afford. Both can be attacked through the development of partnerships.

There has been a great buzz around the new facility on Shunpike Road in Chatham Township. Two artificial turf multi-purpose fields and one natural grass baseball field, all with lights, have been installed. This is a beautiful complex, much like the project underway at the 49 acres. There has been some discussion about the differences between the turf products at each site, but that is actually secondary to the one thing in Chatham that won’t be a part of the Madison project. This key difference could be easily overlooked, but as shown in the accompanying photo, there it is, mounted on a rock, a plaque, recognizing the partnership that made the great complex behind ‘Castle Park' a reality.

The plaque reads, ‘This Field project was made possible through a partnership between Chatham Township, Chatham Borough and the Chatham Athletic Foundation…’

The Madison project, which is to be completed before the spring sports season, will not have a plaque, but if it did it might read: ‘This beautiful sports complex was made possible entirely by borrowing $3.4 million with the interest and principal to be paid for by the taxpayers of Madison.’

In 2011, no town can afford to go it alone. Exciting projects such as our new field complex could have generated broad donor interest. And, as it is being built on property adjacent to the High School, it should also have been funded in a partnership with the Board of Education, a partnership established prior to the start of construction. Sadly, it is nearing completion with a mere $55,000 of fundraising in the bank and no partners. 

At the League of Women Voters Candidate Forum on Oct. 11, Mayor Holden pointed out that the new Meadowlands Stadium went a year before MetLife committed to the naming rights. It’s a scary thought when you are comparing the funding for a $1.5 billion two-team NFL stadium to what should have been a great community project in Madison.

The importance of partnerships extends to maintaining our roads. State funds are available for what are categorized as collector or arterial roads; the designation is based on traffic loads. There are many roads in Madison that need attention. 

Regretfully, of the ones currently due for paving or reconstruction, only three are eligible for state funding: Ridgedale, Rosedale and Green Avenues. Over the past three years we completed two projects – Woodland Road and Brooklake Road (Chatham partnership) – with another
partnership project underway, the second phase of Woodland Road. Ridgedale, Rosedale and Green Avenues are eligible for more than a half-million dollars of state grant money, except for one problem: we are not applying for aid for the reconstruction of Green Avenue.

This spring, the Council voted 4-2 to ‘fast track’ the Green Avenue project and to fund it solely with Madison money. No doubt Green Avenue was in bad shape, but here it is October, and it’s still in bad shape. Couldn’t we have waited for the spring and completed the project with as much as $200,000 of state aid, money we send to Trenton that is now going elsewhere?

The last example of partnership comes in the development of shared services. This year we created the Joint Court with the Chathams and Harding Township, a great example of a partnership. While the negotiations were going on, Madison was trying to stop Chatham’s community garden project. Maybe this was not the best location for their gardens, but we could have had, at least, a direct dialogue. Instead, we had PSE&G pull their lease. In fact, when Chatham passed a resolution requesting  reconsideration from Madison, Mayor Holden didn’t even want to respond to it. It took a vote of the Council to force an official acknowledgement letter back to Chatham.

For one hundred years, we have partnered with Chatham in managing the Joint Sewage Treatment Plant.  Is this the way we should treat a long-time partner? Of course not, we need to treat our neighbors with respect for we need them to be our partners today and well into the future.

These are challenging times. We cannot get through them alone, and we will have do it with partnerships, working closely with the State, neighboring towns, and community groups. We must take a common sense approach, take advantage of opportunities and treat our neighbors with respect.”

Marty Horn October 21, 2011 at 05:09 PM
Mr. Conley states the MAF has "sadly" raised just $55,000. Then he makes the insulting, smug comment: "The Madison project, which is to be completed before the spring sports season, will not have a plaque, but if it did it might read: ‘This beautiful sports complex was made possible entirely by borrowing $3.4 million with the interest and principal to be paid for by the taxpayers of Madison.’" Interest due in January for '12 on the $3.4 million bond anticipation note will be approximately $20,000. Next January '13 the interest payment will be approximately $30,000. So the statement above is a flat out lie.The taxpayers of Madison will not pay a dime of interest on this note for the foreseeable future.The MAF fundraising plan, that VOLUNTEERS have worked on for past year, consisting of corporate sponsorships, user fees, rental income,community events, etc. is well documented on the MAF website for those who seek the truth (www.madisonathleticfoundation.org). Once the complex is open major dollars will be generated from the various revenue sources. Its a shame Mr. Conley, who claims to be a great leader, declined many offers to join the fundraising team and help develop the plan. What kind of leader is that? He voted against the turf fields project and refuses to raise funds for it. Recreation in Madison would be stuck with mud filled fields if Mr. Conley had his way. That's whats so sad about his relentless attacks on the volunteers and families who support this project.
Karin Swenson Szotak October 21, 2011 at 08:22 PM
Marty, when I first read this article about mid-morning, I was thinking that it didn't sound right and was actually wondering when you would chime in. Thank you for clearing up the details. And BTW, this article seems to paint such wonderful pictures of Chatham, I wondered if perhaps he was possibly running for office in that town. Funny thing is when I went to open up the picture to see the plaque my finger slipped and opened up the GOP ad instead. Wonder if that was a sign in itself perhaps.
Steve T. October 21, 2011 at 08:46 PM
Keep it civil Madisonians! Whether you agree or disagree on this or that issue is not important. We do all live here together in the Rose City so that profound announcement during the 1969 Woodstock festival still rings true today: "And remember, the man sitting next to you is your brother and you damn well better treat each other that way because if you don't, then we blow the whole thing, but we've got it right there." And our Rose City assuredly will always smell sweeter than Max Yazgur's pig farm inhabited by half million stinky hippies.
Marty Horn October 22, 2011 at 12:22 PM
Karin and sunnypatch, thank you for your support and kind words. I'm proud of the volunteer work that has brought us to this point on the turf fields project. I encourage everyone to go to the MRC off Ridgedale Ave behind Madison HS and take a look at the awesome project underway. Unlike Mr. Conley and Ms. Vitale, I have tremendous confidence in the great people of Madison who have and will continue to support this project! I'd much rather live in Madison than Chatham anyday!! Bob Conley refused to support this project and help with the fundraising effort. People need to take a close look at his motivations here..
Patrick Franklin October 23, 2011 at 03:59 AM
Marty, how much money has the MAF raised??
Marty Horn October 23, 2011 at 11:28 AM
The MAF has raised over $500,000 from Madison recreation and high school booster clubs through the user fee pledge program with last year's pre-turf pledges totaling over $40,000 in the bank already before the fields are even open. Community fundraisers planned for '12 total over $100,000. Corporate advertising agreements and donations, major sponsorships and field rental agreements are being negotiated now and are predicated on the complex being open. Last year, pre-turf, we collected over $10,000 in corporate donations toward the complex which is a great indicator of corporate interest. The complete fundraising plan is published on the MAF website. The fundraising team of volunteer residents should be congratulated and celebrated by our public officials not bashed for political gain. To further answer your question, the MAF has also raised over $800,000 in the past to pay for Monica Field turf at MHS entirely with PLEDGED money collected over 5 years. I have tremendous faith in the good people of Madison who are volunteering their time to help with this project, and in the thousands of Madison families who continue to support this effort. Thank you again to all of you!!
Marty Horn October 23, 2011 at 11:39 AM
...and to challenge Bob Conley's statement above that we have "no partners," I think the PEOPLE OF MADISON are the GREATEST partners we have - and all of the money that has and will be donated from them will be VOLUNTARILY raised through user fees, community events and private donations - NOT TAX DOLLARS! That has been the goal of the fundraising effort from day one - an effort Mr. Conley has refused to participate in for reasons unknown. For someone who makes a living supporting health, fitness and well-being of children and adults (Mr. Conley is a YMCA executive) to not support one of the greatest recreation projects in Madison history is unconscionable!
dave carver October 23, 2011 at 03:58 PM
Actually, the rock in front of the Madison Complex might read "This beautiful complex made possible by the partnership of the families of Madison, the Madison Electric Dept, the Madison Borough Engineer, the Madison Athletic Foundation, the Mayor and 4 of the 6 members of the council". Seems like a lot more people were involved then not involved with the success of this project. Hope my neighbors remember who worked hard to make this happen when they cast their vote on Election day.

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