PEYTON AND ME MEANDERING: New Business Opens in Southport Area; CNBNews Editorial, You Have a Right to Know
Monday, August 29, 2022
William E. Cleary Sr. | CNBNewsnet
GLOUCESTER CITY, NJ (August 29, 2022)-CNBNewsnet--In May, we noticed construction work at a GAF property, Charles and Water Streets. The GAF Scale House once stood on the property where the work was occurring. Pine logs used to make various mill products were also stored on the same plot. And a bar and a diner were located there, too. After seeing the construction, we asked several city officials if they knew anything about site improvements in that vicinity; they answered no.
Instead of receiving the documents we requested, the Housing Office gave us the construction permit issued to GAF for the 2017 power plant demolition. The power plant was located on the empty lot on the other side of the street from the new business that had just opened. (image provided)
Months later, after seeing a line of flatbed trailers on the property, CNBNews requested a copy of the building permit and other documents issued to the contractor. In answer to that OPRA request, we received the above paper about the demolition of the GAF Power Plant, published on May 17, 2017.
This past Saturday, we noticed that the owner Standard Logistics had moved into the renovated property and had placed a Help Wanted sign on the Charles Street fence. The company is seeking Class A local and regional drivers. Average earnings 80K a year, insurance starting Day 1, and 401K plan. If interested, call 484-925-6565
The development of the 100-plus acres of Southport has remained dormant for decades. So it is excellent news that a new business has opened in that area and is looking to hire people. Hopefully, our City Fathers will publically welcome Standard Logistics to our community.
Someone asked what happened to the Compost Plant that was to be constructed in that area.
Last November, Rocco D'Antonio, head of Gloucester City Organic Recycling LLC (GCOR), announced that he filed a $10.5 million lawsuit against the taxpayers for breach of contract. In 2010 D'Antonio agreed with the City to build a compost plant named Organic Diversions in the Southport industrial area near the end of Water Street. D'Antonio said the lawsuit was filed in March 2021 because city officials didn't live up to their part of the contract. See article here
At the same time, we requested information about the GAF property CNBNews asked about some items listed in the June 14 Planning/Zoning Board minutes.
To be specific, we requested a copy of the testimony given by City Redevelopment Attorney Michael Maley at that meeting as it pertains to redevelopment.
A copy of the PSEG letter that pertained to the application and extension of the freshwater wetlands permit received by the Planning/Zoning Board.
A copy of the Train Station Latin Cafe variance and use variance approved by that Body.
A copy of Greg Fusco's testimony on the Redevelopment report for the Freedom Pier project.
A copy of the plan that meets the goals of the City's Master Plan that is mentioned in the Board's June 14 minutes
As you can see from the paperwork below, their answer for most of those records was N/A Not Available.
We asked if the minutes of that meeting were transcribed. As a result of that question, we were surprised to learn that the public can receive a copy of a session recording on a CD for 50 cents.
According to a recent NJ Spotlight News editorial, the state Supreme Court agrees with us; that the public has a right to access government records.
The New Jersey Supreme Court issued back-to-back decisions that staunchly defended the public’s right to know and reaffirmed the critical importance of access to documents that shine a light on public officials’ conduct — and their misconduct. These unanimous rulings open the door to greater access to law enforcement records, a category of records in which there’s been acute interest in recent years in New Jersey and beyond. These recent decisions also build upon the principal goal of New Jersey’s open government laws, which, as the state’s high court noted ten years ago, is to enable “citizens and the media [to] play a watchful role in curbing wasteful government spending and guarding against corruption and misconduct.”
It’s up to journalists, lawyers, curious community members and everyone in between to keep threading the needle by calling upon government institutions to protect the public’s right to know at all costs. See editorial
How long will we be told that the alleged property theft at the Public Works Department is under investigation? If our timeline is correct, the incident supposedly occurred in June. Yet, three months later, we still have no answers.
We also suggest the argument presented by Acting City Administrator/Police Chief Morrell to stop publishing the weekly crime report because it takes too long to prepare is weak. Our stance is based on the fact that every other City Police Chief dating back to the 60s provided that information without hesitation. We also suggest that a weekly crime report can easily be obtained today by keying in a few facts to the department's computer. Compared to the time it took years ago when everything was done by hand.
That is our opinion; what is yours?
RELATED: CNBNews Files Lawsuit Against Gloucester City's Custodian of Records for Denying OPRA Requests
Below is a copy of our July 25, 2022, OPRA request. The City's response was received on August 3, 2022.