As posted as a comment to the Editorial in today’s Trenton Times:
Is our reluctance really so “difficult to fathom?”
Trenton is a town where only 47% of its property by value is taxable. It has the 5th highest percentage of non-taxable property in the state, out of 535 municipalities.
In the last couple of years, the market value of the remaining taxable property has declined by over a quarter-billion dollars.
The City has long been unable to support itself without significant financial support from the State, support that is formally supposed to “transition” to zero in the near future.
In short, the financial future of this City as a going concern is dismal.
In the midst of this, the City has for decades been incapable of demonstrating any competence at economic development that would improve Trenton’s financial condition and reduce the pressure on those few remaining taxpayers left holding an increasingly burdensome bag.
What I and some of the other residents who spoke at Council were asking for Council to do was to ask some important questions about this proposal, about alternative sites in Trenton that might be better suited for Thomas Edison, and to find out more information about why the City has neglected this site – for which taxpayers paid between $3 and $4 Million, remember – for so long.
I do not object to TESC’s proposal. I do not deny that, as you state, “Its redevelopment of other decrepit buildings in the city has won awards and rescued landmarks.”
What I do assert is that TESC’s presence, or that of the Arena, Ballpark and Hotel built over the last decades, has had little to no sustainable positive impact on their surrounding neighborhoods. There has been no revitalization effect from any of those projects, and I foresee the same result for TESC’s current proposal.
It seems to me that business neighbors in Trenton, such as this paper and its parent the Star-Ledger, should be more sensitive to these developments as they have unwound over the last decades, and be more supportive of efforts to raise legitimate questions about the desirability of turning over yet another prime parcel of real estate to a non-profit.
However, since in your case, your company has recent experience of abandoning its own previous corporate home on Perry Street in favor of smaller and far less expensive digs yourself, I imagine you can feel some insulation from the long-term consequences of your position.
“Reprehensible” is not the word I would use for our position. I would suggest looking in your corporate mirror.