To the Editor:
The public asks questions… Mayor Kuchinski rarely answers them.
So, I will ask my questions here.
Mayor Kuchinski continues to emphasize that the Township Committee had no meaningful alternative to signing with a developer. The sewer infrastructure at Zaitz would have cost Hopewell Township $23 million, he tells us.
Wow! Back in 1998, the projected 9-mile Trenton sewer line to connect Trenton to Merrill Lynch with a 3.5 million gallon per day capacity was priced at $24 million. That was a single, very long, and very fat pipe.
I assume that the Zaitz tract sewer line would be a single, more limited capacity line, to connect to Denow Road or to Wellington Manor, about ½ mile in length. Were they proposing to line it with gold?
The point is that signing a binding contract with a developer should have been the Township’s last choice, not its first option.
Mayor Kuchinski tells us that the $23 million estimate is his main reason for turning to a developer. With sewer costs that high, according to him, the cost of building each affordable unit would have been $150,000 to $250,000. Obviously, if the total sewer cost were much lower, so too would be the cost of the Township building those units itself, drastically reducing the horrific impact of the developer’s 371 additional market rate units on traffic, taxes, schools, and the environment.
The township now says that they contacted ShopRite very late in the game, but that the store balked at the $23 million price tag. Since that number seems to matter, could Mayor Kuchinski please explain the $23 million sewer estimate with the kind of detail that we would have received had there been an open, public process as opposed to a secret set of negotiations? Did the township solicit and receive more than one estimate? From whom did you receive the estimates? From a developer? To date, there has been no such accounting of the costs. They want us to trust them? Where can we evaluate these very costly plans for ourselves? As Reagan famously said, “Trust, but verify.”