In 2001, 16-17 North Bergen Preschool trailers/temporary classroom units (TCUs), replaced (diverted), a taxpayer funded Braddock Park softball field.
This was an ILLEGAL diversion of NJDEP Green Acres and National Park Service LWCF funded and protected recreational space.
Green Acres was required to conduct compliance inspections of this funded parkland every 3 years. It was inspected in 2001, 2005, and 2010. The 2001 and 2005 inspection reports made no mention of North Bergen’s illegal diversion.
A few months after the TCUs were placed in the park, North Bergen applied for, and received Green Acres funding to renovate the track and football field just inches away from the TCUs. Green Acres had photographs showing the TCUs next to the track and football field.
There should be no doubt that Green Acres knew the TCUs were in the park illegally, but it wasn’t until after the 2010 inspection, in 2011, that Green Acres issued North Bergen violations for its preschool diversion and for its diversion of the parking lot adjacent to the preschool.
North Bergen acted irresponsibly not just by removing parkland, but by ILLEGALLY removing parkland that IT KNEW was protected park land. Millions of dollars in penalties are now catching up with taxpayers because of North Bergen’s fiduciary irresponsibility.
In the 9 years since the violations were issued, Green Acres has not taken legal action to force North Bergen to comply with its deadlines, nor with North Bergen’s own promises, year after year, to remove the preschool TCUs from Braddock Park.
Now, Green Acres has allowed North Bergen to withdraw its years long incomplete diversion application, and begin an entirely new application. Green Acres is subverting and not enforcing its own regulations.
Now, North Bergen has betrayed the public’s trust further, by not making good on its 2018 $65 million referendum promise to move the preschool out of Braddock Park, placing the preschoolers in elementary schools.
North Bergen didn’t just remove the softball field from Braddock Park. It also removed part of the 43rd Street Park. It closed for years the 71st Street Park and the bird sanctuary area of Braddock Park.
North Bergen has little regard for State funded park lands and NJDEP Green Acres has little regard for its own regulations.
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