Magazzu plows down Open Space

One issue that has been neglected recently finally saw a story in the News of Cumberland County today – an Open Space plan. This is an issue that has been at the forefront of MagazzuWatch since June of last year. Lou did not want any plan at all, fought long and hard against one. He claims the county does not need an open space plan, even though we are the only county in the state without one.

We have maintained that proceeding without a plan is akin to building a house without blueprints. Sure, you can build a house, but I surely would not want to live there! By July Lou was crying mercy, realizing that open space would become an issue that could affect his reelection, and so he lied to the public and pretended that he would work on getting some sort of open space plan. He promised to allow public input in the plan. Of course he want a board loaded with his hand-picked lackeys, as this website pointed out.

Blake said it was already a letdown that the county had not organized an open space advisory board, as he felt the freeholders verbally agreed to do.

The open space advisory board would have been a citizen group to oversee open space and recreation issues, representing the spectrum of Cumberland County’s municipalities.

Instead, the county opted for a 3-member sub-committee.

Even then, Blake said he had faith that the county would choose an experienced group to research and draw up the plan.

“For the county to suddenly make an about-face, it doesn’t make any sense,” he said. “It really undermines the Democratic process.”

In December he once again reiterated the promise for public involvement in the plan. MagazzuWatch pointed out at the very start of this debate that a public plan was a necessary requisite to receive state and federal funding. Even the local press picked up on this aspect of the purpose of having a plan. But now Lou  is balking at the $90,000 investment that would lock in funding for the county. Nah, he would rather spend that money paying for health benefits for part-time employees that do not show up for half of their scheduled meetings – but you have to have priorities.

In today’s story another aspect came to light. It seems that an independent entity approached the county and promised to give the county money, no strings attached, to proceed with developing an open space plan. All the county had to do is match dollar for dollar whatever it decided it wanted to spend. Lou Magazzu in his wisdom refused to even consider free money, preferring instead to tax county residents into poverty, with ever increasing property taxes, and spending that money on such things as attempting to pad the pension of his lawyer cronies that are employed part-time.

Magazzu never had any intention of creating an open space plan, or of creating a committee that would listen to the concerns of the public. He was buying time all along, just waiting for the moment that he could allow the whole thing to die a quiet death. It will die; the open space plan is already in the coffin as Lou awaits it to breath its last death rattle, hammer and nails ready in hand to secure the lid and bury this beast that has been dogging him for the past year. But MagazzuWatch will be here to remind everyone that Lou is no friend of the environment, but rather embraces wanton and unregulated destruction of our open spaces so that his supporters in the industry of development may plow down tracts of trees unhindered. I am anything but a tree-hugger, but there needs to be give and take, there need to be checks and balances on both sides of this issue. In Cumberland County, the last check has been canceled!

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13 Responses to Magazzu plows down Open Space

  1. Calhoun says:

    Another point: I would question the 90K bid figure. Open space reports for other counties have been done for well under 90K. I would put a reasonable number at 50K-60K for such a report to be prepared for Cumberland County. Remember this is an open space plan only, and has nothing to do with farmland preservation. I would ask to see the actual bids in response to the RFP.

  2. WuLi says:

    Ah – an RFP? What is that? I would sincerely doubt that any RFP was every put out there. Remember – Lou has been doing everything in his power to ensure that there is NO plan.

    An RFP would provide for a competent analysis by entities that Lou has not control over.

    There is more to his opposition to an open space plan than meets the eye, and it has everything to do with his maintaining control over what he is able to award friends (read developers) and supporters. An open space plan could negatively impact his ability to wheel and deal.

  3. Calhoun says:

    Carl, let’s not get too conspiratorial here. I think (hope) there was an RFP. If so, then the County may have received multiple bids, and I would like to know if any of the bids received were for under 90K. Based on studies from other counties, it is quite possible that a lower bid may have been received. If so, then we must ask, why the County is going with the 90K number.

  4. RDOwens says:

    FWIW, Mr. Magazzu stated Monday evening there had been an RFP for the plan for $90,000.

    The budget presented for the Planning & Development Department did not have the $90,000 in it. There was a line item for $50,000. There was talk of another $16,000 that would be included, but it was unclear to me whether the full $16K or only a portion would be used.

    That still left plenty of money to be footed to cover the RFP that was discussed.

  5. crouching plummer says:

    Sounds like central planning. Can’t we leave it alone? Not enough people telling you what you can and can’t do?

  6. WuLi says:

    Sure, we can leave it alone, allow the developers to decide what comes and what doesn’t – and we would look like Mt Laurel or Cherry Hill with houses taking up every square foot of open space, with nature being encroached upon, the aquifer destroyed, major density problems and the every increasing property taxes that come with density…

  7. Calhoun says:

    Bob, I am confused by “there had been an RFP for the plan for $90,000.” Requests for Proposals don’t have dollar amounts attached to them. Rather, the proposals received have budgets with dollar amounts. Did the county received proposals, the lowest one (or the one the county is accepting) being for $90K. If so, I would like to know 1) were bids lower than 90K received; 2) if so, why was one of these lower bids not accepted?

  8. RDOwens says:

    Calhoun, all I know about this is what Mr. Magazzu stated Monday evening. He said the RFP indicated this would be a $90,000 project. Whether there were multiple proposals, etc., I do not know.

    I do know the budget presented did not have $90,000 in it for the plan.

  9. Calhoun says:

    Bob, today’s Millville News shed some more light on this subject. Apparently there were multiple proposals submiitted with the low bid being $52K. Given that, and that the company the county wants to go with bid $78K,I have to ask where did Magazzu get his $90K figure? It’s as if he pulled it out of his ass. The higher the figure the easier it is to say no to. Furthermore, why is the county not looking at hiring the low bidder? Why are they looking at the company that bid $78K? Is there a reason for this? Why pay an extra $26K if you don’t have to? None of this adds up.

    I have heard of the New Math. However, here in Cumberland County, we have something I am going to call the “Lou Math”. In the “Lou Math,” figures are just invented to suit Maggazu’s needs. He doesn’t want to fund an open space plan. So, he just has his ass come up with some figures to suit his needs, pulls them out of said ass and voila objective is achieved.

  10. WuLi says:

    Calhoun – can you provide a link to the story that refers to the $52K figure? I can’t locate it online.

  11. crouching plummer says:

    But WuLi what about all the jobs development would create? What about the dream of a Barnes & Nobles? That would be the clincher for the downtown revival! Isn’t all that your bag? PS Just playin.

  12. Calhoun says:

    In yesterday’s Cumberland News there was an article (http://www.nj.com/bridgeton/index.ssf?/base/news-8/1266580523154780.xml&coll=10) by Dunn (“Open Space, Recreation, & Libraries on County’s Mind”) with this: “There were about a dozen groups who responded to a request for a proposal to complete the study. The lowest offered to do the study for $52,000 and the highest offered to do it for $135,000.”

    The article also states “The project was originally projected to cost $90,000.” Fine. But why was Magazzu using the “projection” $90K number when he had “real” numbers from proposals that were significantly lower than 90K? I maintain it’s that “Lou Math.”

  13. Guess-Who says:

    What Company has the $90,000 Proposal?

    Who is the Co. that has the $52,000 Proposal?

    What County are these Company’s Located in with the Proposals?

    What does $52,000 from $60,000 =?;
    $8,000 still in the BANK!

    What does $90,000 = to this Study?;
    To much Money for Cumberland County Citizens to Spend according to Public Officials!

    The $4-8 Million County Budget Shortfall could put a Damper on this at this Time.

    The Real Question is;
    Will the Governor be able to Freeze These Types of Funds to Help Balance the State of NJ Budget as he has Proposed to do with UEZ Funding?

    —————————————–
    Checks and Balance make the County a Better Place

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