On Wednesday April 16th, frustrated residents expressed their dismay that an Off-Track-Wagering (OTW) facilty could open in Hillsborough despite their strong objections. We empathize with them after attending two Township Committee meetings on March 25th and April 8th, where Township Committee members have made it abundantly clear that they would not do anything at this time. They reminded the public that Green Brook and Bridgewater were able to block gambling facilities before the legislation was changed to further support the OTW industry.
It is true that the municipalities and residents had successfully worked together in the past to block brick and mortar gambling in their towns. Now that it is clear that residents must lead the opposition alone, John Beggiato and Thuy Anh Le want to highlight the actions taken by residents and encourage other people to join their fellow neighbors and friends to voice their opinions.
Michele Eilbacher and a group of concerned residents have circulated a petition that now has more than 1200 names. She has requested that the Racing Commission visit the site during their investigation of the application and point out to them that the entrance to Docherty Park is 150 feet from the OTW facility. The group plans to present the petition to the Attorney General and at the NJ Racing Commission hearing. To demonstrate that Hillsborough residents do not want the OTW facility, the petition should be signed by as many people as possible and we urge everyone to make it a priority to attend the Racing Commission hearing when it is scheduled. The petition can be found at http://www.petitions24.com/no_off_track_betting_in_hillsborough
The Township Committee approved a $32,000 PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) on March 25th that is by law, less than the assessed tax which a non-OTW restaurant or facility would pay. Additionally, none of it will be used to reduce residents’ share of school-related taxes. A regular tax would help our school district whereas a PILOT does not. When Thuy Anh Le asked if our elected officials would distribute the PILOT the same way as a regular tax, the township attorney stated that the potential $20,000 was not going to make a big contribution towards the school budget shortfall. Was that a reflection of how our elected officials view $20,000? Why can’t our elected officials speak for themselves? Would they make that statement to an aide who may lose a job, a teacher who may not get the supplies needed to educate our students, or the RoboRaiders who are asking for that exact amount to support a valuable program. Every dollar matters!
At the March 25th meeting, Darby Development stated that 50 jobs would be created and clarified at the April 16th meeting that these were both part and full time. At the April 8th meeting, Thuy Anh Le pointed out that the job fair for the proposed Hillsborough OTW location was in Jersey City. At the April 16th meeting, John Beggiato asked if the applicant pool had Hillsborough residents. The answer was that only the manager was being recruited at this time. When John asked if they had employment ads in local papers so that the residents would be aware of employment opportunities, Darby Development said no. While Darby Development portrays that there will be employment for local people, their actions so far have not reflected that.
John Beggiato and Thuy Anh Le have always addressed the issues that are important to the quality of life in Hillsborough. It is important that this information is circulated so please share this link with your neighbors and friends.
A large presence is needed at the NJ Racing Commission meeting that will occur within 30-60 days of the application submission. The town and it's taxpayers should have a say in what types of businesses reside in our town. Hillsborough’s reputation as one of the best places to live is based on its open spaces, schools, and recreational attractions such as Duke Farms and the Sourlands, not for its embrace of Off-Track Wagering. Let’s preserve that reputation.
We will post the meeting date as soon as we know at https://www.facebook.com/Le.Beggiato4BoroTC
Thuy Anh Le and John Beggiato for Hillsborough Township Committee