Hopatcong Lake Regional News reader Michele Guttenberger has submitted the folowing article as "Your Opinion" on our site. As a courtesy to our site members, we always support your ability to voice your opinion.
All Should Know Mayor Petillo's Failures with the River Styx Redevelopment Plans before Nov Elections
Hopatcong’s Mayor is getting her last public promotion by passing out pie at a Hopatcong High School Art Show and now making the news headline that she loves the alpacas at the Hopatcong Farmer’s Market. It appears that it is safe to come out of hiding now that she has distanced herself from all that is controversial or questionable by transferring her committee and business roles to someone else in the municipality. Still the transfer of responsibility is difficult when you start to lose some of your key administrative staff in this area due to undisclosed internal relation problems.
However, I think it would be more fitting for the Mayor to hand out free pebbles to everyone from a big unfinished construction site at River Styx. The site I am referencing is the stalled phase 2 of our big redevelopment plan that the Mayor and Council told us we needed to raise the economy of Hopatcong Borough. Yes, I think she should make a public announcement that she is the owns this mess since she helped lead this boondoggle and stand right in front of it. Forget the letter “A” in Apple pie and Alpaca and let her wear the big letter "A" for appalling or audacious.
Politically the biggest sore point of Hopatcong Borough right now is called the "redevelopment plan" which everyone now refers to the Eminent Domain Plan. We have forgotten that this was something Mayor Sylvia Petello destructively led and admitted she planned for 5 years. That vacant structure that was squeezed close to the road with limited parking along with that big pile of dirt, boulders and ditches that sticks out like a festering thumb by the River Styx bridge. was Mayor Sylvia Petillo's big political showcase project. It was a project to propel her political ambitions at the county level and one that gave her the title of Mayor of the Year in 2014.
Brookland at Lakepointe was a project the Mayor took her ceremonial groundbreaking shovel to with a photo op line up of her favorite county Freeholders and one state assembly member. This was the cherry on the top that would help launch her to County office. With that she gave one of her best inspirational speeches on how the Highlands Act had limited Hopatcong’s places for business development but, right here was a promising project that would generate new business to lift up our tax base and bring economic development for Hopatcong. How multiple residential condo units with limited parking and a few street level retail shops were going to generate sustainable revenue and stimulate commerce in our designated business center was a mystery to most of us. However, some did know the ex-council member of Hopatcong Borough purchased this foreclosed Red Angels Daycare Inc property and then sold it to the developer Greentree at Hopatcong who incidentally he was also tied too. The deeds on the sold units of for Brookland at Lakepointe bears his signature as manager of Greentree. So there may lay the reason why Hopatcong involved itself in the undertaking of these new construction projects in our redevelopment plan.
On August 18 2014 when Mayor Petillo started that shovel at the Lakepointe site there was no talk of any eminent domain tool box from this government grant program. Yes, that indefinable grant program that never was clearly explained to us on how much money if any Hopatcong would be receiving in government funding. There was also no discussion of incentive tax abatements or PILOT programs – Payment In Lieu Of Taxes to land developers which would direct NO new revenue funds into our School Systems.
Election time is approaching and fingers are now being pointed as to the cause of the low market value of our real estate in Hopatcong. It comes as no surprise that not one word of possible Municipal mismanagement will ever be uttered to the public. But with an artificial tax assessed value of $30k for a condo unit at Lakepointe and with less than half of the units sold with 0 taxes recorded for 2016 year on these properties, maybe it isn’t the market value of the Hopatcong’s older developments that has become the culprit in this economic math problem.
The public hearing that was held on the first day of school at Hopatcong’s High School was absent of our Mayor who called these properties the blight of Hopatcong and also many council members were missing too. But one taxpayer got up to address the Land Planning board that was there and she asked the question everybody wanted to know - "Whose need does this grand redevelopment project help to fulfill?" for it was NOT a need of anyone in attendance. Well the need was for those who gained from the “Affect” that a redevelopment project brings especially political aspirations of our Republican PAC elected officials in our municipality.