Most Candidates Like Sand Development Plan

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SOUTH AMBOY — Three mayoral candidates heartily support the idea but one wants the city to forego a potential $3.6 million in new revenue rather
than engage in another waterfront redevelopment project.

McCormack Aggregate currently pays a total of $98,000 in taxes based on an assessment of about $3.8 million for the 40-acre tract that is slated to be
developed by O’Neill Properties. Democratic City Council President Fred Henry, Tea Party-backed Vincent Mackiel and independent school board
member John Dragotta all favor the proposed environmental cleanup.

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The development of the sand company could mirror the successful neighborhood built on the city’s eastern waterfront, say advocates of the plan.

Opposing the redevelopment is Republican Mary Connor, who is running without party support as an independent.

Experts estimate the value of homes O’Neill wants to build on the parcel would be between $1.5 million to $450,000. That would escalate the assessed value to $186 million, which would gross $3.6 million in new tax revenue to be shared by the city, county and school district. Those  government entities currently collect a total of about $15 million in property tax revenue from the city, so the development would offset a quarter of current tax bills.

Henry, who has worked to achieve the city’s vast improvements as a member of the council for 18 years, says turning down the opportunity
to continue development would be lunacy.

“The irony is that she lives on South Shore Drive, which would not exist except for our successful efforts to develop the waterfront,” said Henry.

Mackiel claimed some credit citing his Redevelopment Agency service.
“We now get about $80,000 from the sand company. This could be a boon to SA with hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in new revenue.” said Mackiel. “I think the economy and the environment can
both be improved.”

“One of the key points is that this area is not as likely to be as contaminated.” said Mackiel. “Having grown up here I doubt if Amboy Aggregates and Sun Oil has the same problems as National Lead or anything like that.

Dragotta, a volunteer fire department captain, could not be reached for comment.


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