The people of Haddonfield, NJ have spoken. And they said ‘no.’
Voters Tuesday rejected the borough school board’s proposal to buy the nearly 20-acre site of Bancroft, a private educational facility for developmentally disabled individuals, for $12.5 million. Details of the 2,387-2,136 vote tally are here.
As I wrote in my column Sunday, opposition to the proposal centered on the expected property tax impact; supporters eyed the site for expansion of athletic and other facilities at the adjacent Haddonfield Memorial High School.
In a statement on its Facebook page, the victorious Haddonfield United group made a conciliatory gesture to the pro-purchase forces: "Haddonfield United would like to thank all the residents on both sides of the bond issue for their dedication in what they believe in. With the wealth of ideas from all our citizens we can find ways to accommodate the growing needs of our community...together."
Jack O'Malley, chairman of the One Haddonfield organization, which campaigned for a yes vote, told me, "I hope all our citiziens recognize we won't have this opportunity again...my hope is that 50 years from now my children and grandchildren don't look back at this and ask, 'what if.' But it's important to stay positive. We're all neighbors. At the end of the day, there's no other town where I'd rather live."
In a statement, Bancroft President and CEO Toni Pergolin said, "After many years of intense debate over the future of our Haddonfield property, we are pleased that a decision has been made and a direction set for Bancroft’s future. Haddonfield – Bancroft’s home for 130 years – is one of the region’s most desirable communities, and it has always been a wonderful place for our students and staff. We are excited to begin the process of modernizing our campus, so we can provide the best possible services here in Haddonfield for many, many years to come."