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Republican Candidates Blast Council on Open Space Spending

In a letter to the editor, candidates Phil Garwood, Victoria Napolitano and Pete Palko chastise three of the sitting council members for acting against the will of the voters.

To the editor:

Monday evening, Mayor (John) Button, Deputy Mayor (Greg) Gallo, and Councilman (Mike) Testa once again showed their disregard for the voters and taxpayers of Moorestown by .

Like you, our team is deeply concerned about our town’s finances and its ability to attract families to our town, along with our ability to maintain the small-town feel and quality of life that we all enjoy. Without question, our parks and recreational facilities are an integral part of our town’s ability to attract new families. The improvement of parks and recreational facilities will remain a priority for our team in the near-term. Equally important is our ability to continue to acquire open space as approved by voters using the Open Space Trust Fund. This fund allows us to control the rate of development and strike a balance between having beautiful open space versus our need for ratable income.

Over the past year, Mayor Button has argued and debated the use of our open space dollars to fund a nearly $4 million athletic field project that includes the planning, design, construction, and inspection of an artificial turf field, parking, and scoreboards. We very strongly agree with council members Stacey Jordan and Chris Chiacchio that the work should have been deferred until next year when the township is in a better fiscal position to afford the work that has been proposed without having to drain the Open Space Fund. 

When given the chance to let the public’s voice be heard on this issue, Mayor Button voted against a motion to put the question on a referendum on the November ballot to clarify the Open Space usage definition and protect against a threatened lawsuit. This is reflective of a consistent disregard for the same voters who elected him four years ago. 

We feel this spending is unacceptable and out of step with the will of the voters of Moorestown. In its current value, the fund cannot both support these recreational capital improvements and fulfill its prior obligations and traditional functions. By moving forward at this time and depleting the fund, impending projects that would have been paid for out of the fund, such as future repairs to dams and dredging projects slated for , will be forced to become bonded projects. This is in addition to the fact that the Open Space Fund will not be available for acquisition of land or qualify for matching dollars from the county and state.

We want to be very clear in saying that our team has always supported investing in our recreation programs and athletic fields and will continue to do so. The divisive tactics have to stop. Moorestown deserves a town council of consensus-building elected officials that represent the interests of all of our taxpayers.

Phil Garwood, Victoria Napolitano, Pete Palko
Republican candidates for Moorestown Township Council 

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Got something to say? If you'd like to submit a letter to the editor, email rob.scott@patch.com.

Eileen S July 24, 2012 at 11:35 AM
I agree. We need a balance between open space areas and sports.
Robin July 24, 2012 at 01:05 PM
Yes!!!! Exactly!!!!!! Great letter, thank you!!!!
Ace July 24, 2012 at 01:36 PM
You need to go further. If elected, what will you do to stop the damage this vote will have done? Will the project be only partially complete? Will you halt it immediately? Think "Repeal Obamacare!"
Romney Republican July 24, 2012 at 02:12 PM
Ok, hearing Pete Palko and Phil Garwood talk last night got my attention at the packed crowd last night . Thanks Guys! You spoke well, you weren't like the others mad an obnoxious. Thanks councilman chiacchios, Garwood and palko and others for stating we need a referendum on this. Is that not a bad idea? We will be there tonight!
Bobby29 July 24, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Good for them! This was terrible that the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, and Councilman Testa didn't listen to the public last night. They should have not voted on it last night instead of jumping the gun and voting yes after listening to the public complain for more than an hour's time. I liked the Mayor until last night.
POG July 25, 2012 at 02:47 PM
Nice candidates forum last night ! We got to hear from our candidates. Great job with all those involved, republican club, mrmc members, moderator did a great job. Like to learn and hear more. Nice flags!

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