Joint meeting between the BOE and commissioners on an upcoming land swap

Things are changing in the borough, at least as far as land is concerned.

Things are changing in the borough, at least as far as land is concerned.

A joint meeting took place on Monday, March 13, between the board of education and commissioners on an upcoming land swap. The land under deliberation at Monday’s meeting were Scout and Radnor fields and part of the Bancroft property, with the exclusion of Lullworth Hall. The board of education and commissioners held a public discussion and provided a platform for residents to share their thoughts on a land swap of either Radnor or Scout, which are owned by the board.

The land swap would allow the borough to purchase the land from the BOE using Green Acres funds, a government program made to protect open space in the state. Radnor Field would then be preserved and protected from development.

Although there is no development in the foreseeable future, with the money from the transaction, the board would purchase the Hopkins tract, next to Haddonfield Memorial High School, of the Bancroft property from the borough, creating additional space for the expansion of the high school or Tatem if ever needed.

“It has always been a strategic property for the district because it borders our high school and has a nice amount of room to expand if we ever need to,” Board President Adam Sangillo said.

The board of education originally thought Scout Field would be a better choice, but after further discussion among members, the board has been considering trading Radnor, according to Sangillo. Some board members think Radnor would be most valued as an open space moving forward because Scout has been evaluated in 1998 and approved to be a potential school site, according the the board.

“What analysis has been done by professionals telling you that this is the best place to put a school?” resident Mark Rusc asked.

Board member Glenn Moramarco said there are more questions surrounding Radnor because there has never been an analysis on it.

“There’s all sorts of things we don’t know about Radnor,” Moramarco said.

He said the criteria has most likely not changed since the last analysis 20 years ago.

Vice President Susan Kutner echoed Moramarco’s thoughts about the criteria for approving the site for school use.

“Educationally, the criteria they used in 1998 is still the criteria they would use this year,” Kutner said. “Radnor was never approved for school use.”

Some residents were just excited to be able to have more open land preserved in Haddonfield. Resident Rob Wilby said it was great to see that more space would be preserved for the youth of Haddonfield.

“The quality of life is not just the fantastic education that we have, or the various architecture … and the nice downtown, it is also open space and places for kids to go, you talk about the need to play,” Wilby said. “They need open space.”

The purpose of the meeting was to gain resident feedback. The determination of which field will be swapped will be discussed at the next BOE meeting on March 22 at 7 p.m.

“We don’t have a firm recommendation yet to give to the commissioners, we were leaning toward Radnor but … it’s still in discussion,” Sangillo said.

After the decision is made on which land to swap, the borough will invest its efforts in ordering appraisals to get a value of the land and conducting site surveys.

“We look forward to pushing more information out to you as we receive it,” Mayor Neal Rochford said.