What History has Taught Us

It isn’t easy to find but there’s a special meeting of the Highlands Mayor and Council tomorrow night at the community center for discussion on the redevelopment plans for the borough.

The meeting is set to begin at 6:30 p.m.

Wouldn’t you think a meeting of this importance would be front page center on the official page of the Borough?

It isn’t.

The main meeting highlighted on the page is a JCP*L public hearing slated for November.

There’s a notice giving an update on the tragic accident on Waterwitch Ave at Shore Drive this week. But you have to look really hard to find out anything about plans for redevelopment.

Presumably the meeting was advertised in the Asbury Park Press or the Two River Times, the official newspapers of the borough where notices of all meeting must be posted. It’s the borough clerk’s job to legally advertise all meetings and she’s fastidious and careful in following all the regulations.

But it’s the rare person who even wants to buy the daily paper these days, let along scan through all the fine print in the back of the paper every day to see which day, if any, there will be an advertisement about a meeting in Highlands. It was not in last week’s Two River Times which circulates in the borough, even if you scanned through all the sheriff’s sales, and legals from other towns.

It wasn’t listed on News, or Government, or Events, or Calendar on the borough’s official page.

You had to read through an article asking you if you wanted to take a survey on the subject

Help shape the plans for redevelopment on Bay Avenue taking a short survey.

As we move closer to the next phase of redevelopment planning for Bay Avenue, we would appreciate your feedback. Please take a few minutes to complete the following survey by following this link.

You can also find the survey at bit.ly/07732bay.

This survey will be open through 10/31/2021.

Also please mark your calendar for the upcoming town hall on redevelopment on October 18 at 6:30PM at the Community Center.

Thank you for your participation!

That is what i found as notice on the borough’s official web page. Nothing special. Nothing as noteworthy as the JCP&L Nov. 1 meeting nor the update on the accident.

No real notice anyone would heed, unless they were reading something else.

Shame on the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Highlands.

Do you even wonder why there are so many who don’t trust what’s going on?

Do you even wonder why people think scooping up properties all over the borough from the Miller Street waterfront to lots all along Bay Avenue makes it look like some people In town know more than others?

Do you even wonder why people already don’t like the redevelopment plan because they’re suspicious of what’s going on, what it leads to, who is really involved and how much do they all want to change the face of Highlands?

Do you even wonder why people complain because you refuse to hold meetings in which everyone can see, hear, and give opinions on what is going on?

Do you even care that people with a variety of disabilities are intentionally being shut out of meetings that are making and breaking the future of Highlands.

For that matter…do you even care?

Even if they really want to put a redevelopment plan through, Council should look back on local history in both Highlands and Atlantic Highlands.

Both towns talked about Urban Renewal which in Highlands was going to be leveling all the houses below the hill, filling it all in and voila! A cure for flooding.

The federal government spent a bunch of money and hired lots of folks to get it all accomplished, and in the end, it was a lot of wasted time, money, energy, and no solution to flooding.

It happened in Atlantic Highlands in 1966 when Jay Kellers was mayor and Jim Snyder was on council. People complained they didn’t know what was going on with the urban renewal discussions being held there, so Snyder said “no one wants to hurt our neighbor. No one wants to put a man out of business or out of his home. Let’s get down to specifics and see what can be done.” He went on to say that Urban Renewal, which is what progressive redevelopment was called at that time, had gotten a lot of bad publicity. Snyder said, “the program can’t be all bad, It’s who uses the program.” There were questions on how could the borough consider urban renewal when it didn’t have a master plan.

Tom De Genito, another outspoken local resident was a member of the Anti-Master Plan and Anti-Urban Renewal Committee that was set up said “This has turned the town upside down, brother against brother, father against son, friend against friend,” he said at a council meeting.

It was a Mrs. Harrington of South Avenue who tried to bring some reasoning to the meeting. When the subject of Urban Renewal was raised the lady simply asked council if it planned to “tear down” South ave. When assured that no indeed, that was not the plan, the wise woman suggested the borough clean First Ave., encourage residents to improve their houses and to “do the work in a Christian way.”

There’s been no urban renewal in either borough and the idea simply faded away.


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