Posted: February 05, 2003

State's open space will be developed if policy unchecked

Your recent article scratched the surface of an old open-space scam ("Other needs challenge off-limits idea of parks," Jan. 21).

Unfortunately, the "diversion" of the state's Green Acres open space for other uses is not a new trend. Local politicians promise to save open space in their campaigns, but often can't resist trying to develop it later. Open-space development rewards campaign contributors (mostly lawyers, engineers and real estate developers).

In Cherry Hill, which is almost fully developed, township politicians sold or traded Green Acres open space for several projects. Camden County politicians now want to give open space and ask Green Acres to help fund construction for a $4 million rowing facility on Cooper River Park that would include boat storage, banquet facilities, a viewing tower, a parking lot and a drainage basin.

The more open space the public buys, the more open space politicians will develop. New Jersey's Green Acres program is a toothless, paper tiger that routinely lets local governments withdraw open space for other public and private uses. Worse, it accepts applications for and gives money to develop open space for recreation complexes and parking lots.

Brad Campbell, commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection, needs to do more than clarify and strengthen the rules for diversions of these properties. He and we must urge our lawmakers to amend state open-space regulations to require deed restrictions on all open spaces in the Green Acres inventory. Otherwise, the open space we buy today will be developed tomorrow.

Roxane C. Shinn

Cherry Hill

Baraka is a threat

I fear for the future of Newark, N.J., and our nation, given that Amiri Baraka, a hater and an avowed Marxist, is teaching children in that city's public school system.

Baraka recently confirmed to Bill O'Reilly in an interview his belief that President Bush and Jews knew in advance that the World Trade Center would be attacked on Sept. 11, 2001. That assertion is bizarre and fascinating, given that hundreds of Jews were slaughtered that day alongside their gentile brethren.

Instead of being run out of town on a rail as any other anti-American would have been in times gone by, Baraka is seen by many as a decent human being, remaining the poet laureate of New Jersey. Now he will interact with impressionable children. Will he encourage students to foment revolution against the U.S. government from within?

Why has Baraka not been virulently and repeatedly condemned by every elected official who is involved with Newark, right up to Mayor Sharpe James? Baraka is an embarrassment to Newark and to New Jersey.

Oren M. Spiegler

Upper St. Clair, Pa.

Separation is simple

I am a graduate of Rutgers University in Camden. As a state university, Rutgers cannot support any religious group on campus where facilities are funded even in part by government money.

It never ceases to amaze me that people still have trouble understanding this basic ideal: A taxpayer-funded university cannot allow even the hint of preference to one religious group over another.

My advice to the people who want this InterVarsity Multi-Ethnic Christian Fellowship is to drop Rutgers from the name and meet at one another's houses instead of on campus. Or transfer to a college that advertises its support of both your academic and your "ministry" goals.

In the meantime, take a course at Rutgers to brush up on how our country was founded on religious tolerance and separation of church and state. Don't confuse these tenets with religious persecution. They were devised to combat just that.

And, please, take a breath. No one is trying to deny your right to practice your chosen religion. People are just trying to make sure that their hard-earned tax money is not going to support someone else's choice.

Rachael Booth


A dumping ground

I have lived in Saddlertown, part of Haddon Township, for 20 years. My husband and I raised our daughter here and have been the fortunate recipients of wonderful neighbors, a fine school system, and a town we enjoy living in.

Now our quality of life is being threatened by the proposed addition of two athletic fields one block from our home.

Many municipal services have been added to our already inundated neighborhood. We have been forced to live with the Board of Education's administration building, the water-treatment plant, a telephone company's facilities building, a playground, a school, the huge township water tower, and the congested Rhoads Avenue.

It is evident Saddlertown has become a dumping ground for municipal services. This abuse must stop now.

As far as putting the issue of the athletic fields on the ballot, the fate of Saddlertown rests on the shoulders of this administration, not the voters. I challenge it to make the tough decision and not choose Green Valley Tennis Club or the MacArthur tract/Saddlers Woods as the site of the athletic fields. I challenge it to stop destroying Saddlertown, the place I love to live in despite everything the township has placed here already. Enough is enough!

Helene Williams

Haddon Township

Driven to study

I never laughed so much as I did reading Dave Boyer's commentary on the driver's license manual ("On your mark, get set, adjust your steering!" Jan. 22).

My husband and I were getting ready to take the test, for the second time, and it was good to see that other people feel the same way we do.

We just moved from Philadelphia, but never expected to have to learn all the rules in the manual. My husband said he had been driving in the city for 50 years and shouldn't have any problem with the test. He didn't pass, and neither did I.

So we got down on the book and passed the second time, hallelujah. Thanks for giving us a good laugh.

Egidia Barbetta


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