In response to concerns raised by neighbors, Fair Haven officials last night put off voting on a plan to fund the $1.2 million purchase of a one-acre parcel on the Navesink River, according to a report in today’s Asbury Park Press.
The borough council also imposed a condition on the purchase: at least $500,000 in outside grant money must be obtained to lighten the load on taxpayers, or no deal.
At issue is a proposal to buy the Charles Williams house at the foot of DeNormandie Avenue, site of a residence that was built in 1855 by a free African-American man and was occupied by his descendants continually until last year, when 92-year-old Julia Robards died.
The home was inherited by her sons, who have offered it to the town at a discount from the $1.6 million they’d been seeking in the open market.
Despite its age, the house is not protected by any laws concerning historic sites, and is generally thought to be too expensive to preserve. Borough officials want to knock it down and create a passive park on the site, which would be the only such public waterfront lot in town.
Residents of DeNormandie, though, are worried the change will worsen traffic and parking woes on their narrow lane. Others expressed concern at Monday night’s council meeting about a lack of information about the plan.
From the Press:
Resident Ingrid Power said she was concerned that the borough had no plans or information on paper for residents to examine. “You need a lot more information and you need to make a lot more clear,” said Power, who added that the added cost could tax senior citizens out of their homes.
Mayor Mike Halfacre told the audience the borough would seek $500,000 in state Green Acres funding for the project, and if that money isn’t forthcoming, “we won’t do the deal,” the Press quotes him as saying. “If it comes to a vote to fund $1.2 million, it will be a very close vote.”
A vote on a bond ordinance that would enable the financing for the project is now scheduled for August 10, according to the Press.