Residents Concerned About Overcrowding, Flooding Re: Lion Gate Development
Bloomfield residents raised issues at the Town Council meeting about the proposal to build 104 new residential units on the Lion Gate-Scientific Glass property.
The Scientific Glass development project, proposed to build 104 residential units at 8 Lion Gate Drive, has some Bloomfield residents worried about how the increased town population will affect the already-crowded Bloomfield schools.
“While I’m very happy to hear about commercial and residential development in the township, I want to ensure that the Board and its officers know the impact that further development will have on its schools,” said School District Attorney Nicholas Dotoli during the public comment portion of this week’s township council meeting.
“I think the council needs to think about the legacy they’re going to leave, in terms of overcrowding schools and development, to future generations,” said resident Greg Babula. “What quality of education are we offering students today?”
School Board member Maribel Perez offered some evidence of how swelling class sizes were affecting specific schools within the district.
“Last year we purchased three classroom trailers for Franklin Elementary, and currently are transitioning a sub-basement storage room into a classroom,” she said. “Brookdale Elementary is also currently having their sub-basement storage room converted into a classroom.”
“Shame on us!” declared Councilman Nick Joanow. “As a homeowner, I would run if my child was [learning] in basement (right now it’s having asbestos removed) -- or a trailer.”
Though the Scientific Glass project is still awaiting approval, other residential development projects are moving forward, such as the Bloomfield Center Transit Village and the Hartz Mountain projects. Bringing new life into Bloomfield will spark the town's economy, say Mayor Raymond McCarthy and council members who have voted to give these development projects the go-ahead.
As for school overcrowding, McCarthy said last May that building new condominiums would not place an added burden on the school district because “condos don’t have school-age kids." He added that the 69-unit Greenbrook Apartments complex erected twelve years ago brought only two new children into the school system.
At this week's meeting, Councilman Joanow also brought up another topic of concern. Because the proposed Lion Gate building site is on an existing floodplain, Joanow expressed fear of flooding, as he has many times in the past.
“We’re compromising our property values,” he said, holding up a photo of the area under water. “We are throwing – literally! – water on someone who’s drowning. The solution is not to add more development into a school district, into a community that we cannot service . . . We’re investing your tax dollars into a project that might be compromised, on a floodplain."
He added, "We shouldn’t even be here tonight discussing this.”
After the discussion, the motion failed to pass on a 3-3 council vote. Councilman Carlos Bernard was absent.