Richard Snedeker’s explanation of Arts Council finances and Richard Eland’s inventory of good news about West Windsor drew the bulk of the online comments to our September 10 issue posted at www.wwpinfo.com.
The critics of the Arts Council project were apparently not persuaded by Snedeker. “Richard, you may not like the fact that West Windsor residents are not 100 percent on board with township money going toward your great cause,” wrote one post. “Sorry but I am one among many.
“The Arts Council is getting special treatment at the township’s expense. And part of the $800,000 paid by the township was our money. Had West Windsor not gone into contract with Art Council it would have been available for real legitimate township necessities and that money is now gone.”
Another resident questioned whether the firehouse could have been put to more lucrative use. “My complaint is that the township should not have contributed $800,000 to bring the firehouse up to code. Something is not right about that number. Is there a difference between bringing it up to code vs. bringing it up to code specifically for the Arts Center or its intended use? Of course.
“This agreement favors the Arts Council, not the township, because at the end of the day the taxpayers are still picking up the bill for the code upgrade, whereas if the space were to be leased to another organization, the difference in the upgrade would be paid by the lessee.
“Further real estate space in West Windsor is premium and this space is given away at a firesale price. Who pays $250 for rent? You can’t even get away with that in Trenton.
“We could easily get a real tenant willing and able to pay a rent difference for that area and space that would pay for their part of bringing the it up to code beyond the minimum that the township requires. Instead we have a nonprofit that can barely make the rent.
“Bottom line is the township is paying or paid $800,000, almost $1 million for an Arts Council that many residents don’t want to contribute to, not to mention that this space could actually be bringing in money. And residents who feel strongly about supporting the Arts Council can do so on by making their own private contribution.
“What the township needs are qualified people serving that actually have a financial background.”
Another poster predicted that the Arts Council will not be self-sufficient: “They’ll be back begging for more money.”
Richard Eland’s letter on the positives of West Windsor prompted some people to ponder the negatives. “Instead of our taxes going down since our homes values have dropped, thanks to the Mayor, our taxes for this year will still increase! That number will be positive — but that positive is really a huge negative.
“Let’s get to the truth of why taxes will keep going up and where money will really be spent. The Mayor is already dreaming up renovations for the municipal complex — necessity for township or for his political resume and TV interviews?”
From another post: “What I find is that West Windsor seems to be promoting our town with bells and whistles instead of just running it. It should be focused on managing expenses rather than creating them.”