A while ago, the Union City Reporter published an article about 1501 Palisade Avenue in connection with the Schools Construction Project (SCC). Now this begs for a follow-up story as a major newspaper in NJ states the state was forced to pay $1.48 million for the property at 1501. The Star Ledger's article "SCC alleges the price of school site inflated" (March 9) opens with: "Assemblyman Brian Stack and his political allies in Union City helped coordinate the hasty construction of an apartment building that added more than $1 million to the cost of property the state purchased for a new elementary school, state attorneys claim in new court documents."
Mayor Stack, it should be pointed out, denies the claim. This matter will be taken up by Superior Court Judge Carmen Messano on March 31. I am numb with shock over this article and the claims spelled out in a 43-page brief that lawyers for the state Schools Construction Corp. filed in a Superior Court Case. What has rocked my world is the summary in the article, "The brief claims the building's quick construction was aided by a web of conflicts, political manipulation and direct gifts and political contributions to officials in Union City."
On the surface this looks like the SCC screwed up, and the burden will be on it to prove this case and justify paying only $326,000 for 1501 Palisade Avenue. I am hoping that my shaken confidence will be fully restored once the case goes to court and Mayor Stack is right in his claim, quoted in the article, "Fifteen-hundred-and-one Palisade is due to the incompetence of the SCC."
But, and it's a big but for me, it will be deeply disturbing if the following statement is borne out: "Discovery in this case reveals disturbing facts...Facts which confirm that the (Lopezes) sought nothing more than to purposely inflate the value of their property and force the taxpayers to pay millions more to them for their property than it is really worth," according to the article. Hopefully the Union City Reporter will track this issue and let us know the outcome of the March 31st court case.