Radburn Trustees Overwhelmingly Pass Daly Field Development Contract
The Radburn Board of Trustees approved a restated agreement for the sale of Daly Field to Landmark L.L.C. with an 8-1 vote on Monday night.
The Radburn Board of Trustees voted 8-1 in favor of a revised contract for the sale of Daly Field to Landmark L.L.C. on Monday night, approving an agreement that includes new provisions in the event of eminent domain action among other additions to the original contract signed in 2004.
Monday's vote was open for all Radburn residents to attend, but not residents from the rest of Fair Lawn. Patch obtained a copy of the full contract, which can be viewed in the .PDF file attached to this story.
There was one last-minute change to the contract stipulating that "Affordable housing units will consist of a total of 20 percent of the entire project," coming out to 33 of the 165 housing units in the development Landmark plans to build on Daly Field and the adjacent Hayward Parcel, according to Radburn Association President Lou Weiss.
Since 2004, local grassroots groups and the Fair Lawn Borough Council–in an attempt to keep 5.7-acre Daly Field green–have taken a stance against Landmark's proposed development on the Radburn-owned field (located at the intersection of Plaza Road, Berdan Avenue and Route 208) and the Landmark-owned Hayward Parcel. According to Weiss, the field will remain more than 50 percent green under Landmark's plan.
"A much underutilized field and former industrial site will now become beautiful parks, and housing," Weiss wrote in an email statement to Patch.
Art Murray, president of the Radburn Citizens' Association, was the only Radburn trustee to vote against the contract. Though Radburn residents were able to witness Monday night's proceeding, Murray said in an interview that those residents–as well as everyone else who lives in Fair Lawn–should have also been able to take part in the vote because what happens to Daly Field "has such an effect on everybody."
"I think that decision needed to be taken by a larger number of people," Murray said.
Weiss responded that, "As is standard in any corporation and organization, the Radburn Board of Trustees represents all of Radburn and are an 'administrative arm' who have been charged with running and making decisions. Radburn is not run by mob rule, but in an orderly fashion for the betterment of all."
One new part of the contract states that Radburn must join Landmark in the legal defense of any condemnation–meaning an eminent domain proceeding instituted by a governmental authority to acquire Daly Field. Landmark acknowledged in the contract that Fair Lawn has threatened to condemn Daly Field and has "adopted ordinances authorizing such condemnation."
Also in the event of a condemnation, Radburn will receive the first $3.5 million of the condemnation award (the compensation the government gives for the property), and the remainder of the award–if it exceeds $3.5 million–will be disbursed 50 percent to Landmark and 50 percent to Radburn, the contract says. Radburn will receive $3.75 million for the sale of Daly Field, according to the contract, which is the same amount Radburn was set to receive under the original agreement.
Leading up to Monday's vote, Radburn residents were able to view the contract and the development plan at Grange Hall on Fair Lawn Avenue, where the vote was held. Since only the trustees voted, Murray said that "this process has been no process, in my way of thinking." Weiss, however, wrote that board members "took this process very seriously, believing it was best for Fair Lawn as well as Radburn."
Murray said that in a highly developed part of New Jersey, the area surrounding Daly Field "has been built on enough." Traffic is "already terrible in the center of Fair Lawn during rush hour and the development will worsen that situation, he said.
"Open space is an important thing to preserve," Murray said.
Weiss, on the other hand, wrote that the project "will be the impetus to spur the revitalization of the Radburn Center shopping area, which through the years has waned." Regarding concern about additional vehicles the development will bring to the area, Weiss wrote that "it only makes common sense that all the cars will not be leaving at the same time, should they ever really leave at all."
Moving forward, the Fair Lawn Borough Council, Planning Board, and Building Department will need to meet with Landmark to work out traffic patterns and other important issues that are not completely addressed in the "conceptual plans" that have been drawn to date, according to Weiss.
Weiss has stressed that Landmark will revamp the Archery Plaza portion of the property with new drainage, benches, lighting, and paths, creating a "Radburn park setting that can be seen from the Ambulance Corps right out to Fair Lawn Avenue." The contract lays out those new details for Archery Plaza, which is located partially on Daly Field and partially on the Hayward Parcel. The property will contain an "internal park," the contract says, and all of Archery Plaza, including the park, will still be owned by Radburn after the sale.
Landmark is responsible for the cost of all "site improvements" to the park, and is agreeing to grant Radburn residents access to the park and to keep the park open during the construction of the development, while ensuring that the park is "free of construction equipment and materials," the contract states.
Murray said that Radburn needed to "sell the idea" of the Daly Field development more by better informing Fair Lawn residents of the project's details. However, the reality is that "it's very difficult to get [public] support for new developments," Murray said.
"Go out to people and market it," Murray said of the project.
Weiss believes the project is in the best interests of Fair Lawn because the borough is projected to owe between $1.5 to $2 million to residents in tax appeals, and the Landmark units–which will be all condominiums rather than rentals–can provide Fair Lawn with a much-needed extra source of tax revenue. Additionally, the amount of taxpayer money that has been spent on legal fees throughout the course of the Daly Field dispute is a major problem, according to Weiss.
"I only ask one thing at this time, that the Mayor and Council get behind this project and stop wasting precious Fair Lawn/Radburn residents' hard-earned dollars on another appeal and/or additonal legal expenses for condemnation, it's counterproductive and costly," Weiss wrote. "We have so many other important issues in town that we can use the money for."