Commissioners approve appropriating $13.5 million for Bancroft property purchase

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Haddonfield commissioners have taken the next to final step in purchasing the Bancroft property.

Commissioners approved an ordinance to appropriate $13.5 million in bonds or notes for the purchase of the property on second reading at its meeting on Tuesday, May 24. The closing day of the purchase is June 30.

“I’m very, very happy we’re at this point. Passing this bond ordinance will allow us, under the Redevelopment Law, to make the purchase,” Mayor Jeff Kasko said.

This is one of the final steps the borough has to take to purchase the property.

The agreement between the borough and 2 Hopkins Lane, LLC, Brian O’Neill’s buying company, has the sale price set to $12.9 million, split between Bancroft at $11.5 million — the same price O’Neill offered, according to Kasko — and O’Neill’s company at $1.4 million.

The $13.5 million is the gross debt of the borough as defined in the Local Bond Law.

Once it is published that the ordinance was passed, which was last Friday, the borough has to wait 20 days from publication to raise the bonds or notes.

Commissioners made sure to remind residents that this purchase is planned to be done on a tax-neutral basis.

“Bancroft will be paying rent while waiting for them to move,” Commissioner Neal Rochford said.

“And any development on the property, including housing, will generate tax revenue that will more than pay the interest and principal of any bonds or notes of this ordinance,” Kasko said.

The borough plans to close the purchase by June 30.

In other news:

• Commissioners unanimously approved an ordinance on second reading about game equipment and other objects being prohibited in the streets.

This ordinance amending the borough code came about be cause of people leaving items such as sports nets and trashcans in the street. This is a safety concern for cars, sweepers and snowplows.

According to the ordinance, a basketball pole, basket and backboard assembly, whether stationary or moveable, is prohibited at any time from being placed in a public street or public thoroughfare utilized by motor vehicles. Game equipment, such as hockey goals or soccer goals, utilized to play games in the public street or public thoroughfare, must be removed after the game has ended, and in no event may this type of equipment remain in a public street or public thoroughfare overnight.

Other objects such as trash receptacles, storage containers, recyclable containers, construction materials, demolition materials, tools, equipment, non-registered vehicles, landscape materials, toys, shrubs, branches, vegetation and other such objects are prohibited at any time from being placed in a street or public thoroughfare utilized by motor vehicles.

Rochford wanted it to be very clear that play is not prohibited; it is just the objects being left in the streets.

“Kids are still allowed to play in the streets safely. We just ask that the base of the basketball net not be on the street, but on the park strip,” Rochford said.

• An ordinance was passed on first reading amending the chapter entitled “Curfew.” There is no substance change, according to Borough Solicitor Mario Iavicoli. The amendment verifies the fine of up to $1,000 for violators of the ordinance. The amendment brings the ordinance into compliance.

• Russell Richards and Michael Lipinski were sworn in as active members to Haddon Fire Company №1, and Thomas Kenny and Doug Huber were sworn in as explorers. Explorers are high school students who are looking to get more involved in serving the community and further their knowledge and skills in firefighting and other public safety activities.

• Commissioners proclaimed June 2 as National Gun Violence Awareness Day and encouraged all residents to wear orange, as hunters wear orange to announce themselves to other hunters, to support efforts to prevent tragic effects of gun violence and to honor and value all human lives.