Fund for Roosevelt, Inc.

P. O. Box 404, Roosevelt, New Jersey 08555-0404
A non-profit corporation.   501(c)(3) recognized.
Registered with the State of New Jersey.

Selected Press Coverage
of the Fund for Roosevelt &
Historic, Social, and Preservation Issues
in Roosevelt -- Part I

(All material is copyrighted by its source corporation.)

From an article by Genikwa Williams in The Times (Trenton), 20 August 2000:

"Weighing Cost of Being Unique

"Founded as Utopia, tax-weary Roosevelt debates development

"As you drive down this Monmouth County town's scenic gateway -- a long, winding road flanked by thick, tall trees and lush farmland -- you get a sense that you're being transported back in time.

"Busloads of tourists ride through the borough every week hoping to experience that temporal flux as they eagerly anticipate what the quaint and historic town has to offer.

"There are the modest, German-inspired, flat-roofed houses.

"There's the old garment factory and the plentiful farms that were the livelihood of the original Jewish settlers who fled slumlords in Manhattan and the hard times of the Depression to build a better future for their children.

"There's the large, colorful mural painted by the husband-and-wife team of Ben and Bernarda Shahn hung high on a wall in the town's only schoolhouse.

"And there is the untouched splendor of nature that surrounds the tiny village, like a hedge of guardian angels.

"It's a small-town atmosphere that borough residents have fought hard to keep intact. To their delight, only 128 new homes have been built here since the first 200 went up in 1936.

"BUT WITH HUGE, tract-style homes rapidly eating up the open space in neighboring municipalities and creating numerous growth-related problems for their host towns, the oasis that borough residents have come to treasure is being threatened by builders who are eyeing the hundreds of acres of undeveloped cornfields here.

"One development, proposed last fall by Matzel & Mumford, would have brought 65 new single-family homes to a 100-acre field located near the borough cemetery. The plan, however, was rejected by the planning board because time had run out on the review period and the developer wasn't interested in an extension.

"U.S. Home in Freehold, another housing developer, has talked to borough officials about building a 350-unit senior citizen town house community in a 150-acre cornfield along Route 571, the winding road that leads into the borough. The development would more than double the number of households.


"The talk of development has raised concerns about the future of the borough and sparked an intense debate in the community.

"Foes of development say it would ruin the rural quality of the borough, its precious history and the sense of community shared by the 900 plus people who live here.

"But while they, too, value the unique qualities of the borough, supporters say the borough needs new development to bring in additional tax revenue.

"Though most of the homes in the borough sell for about $100,000, residents have one of the highest municipal tax rates in New Jersey, with the average household paying about $5,200 a year. Most of the tax revenue pays to run the local school, which serves 83 students in kindergarten through sixth grade. Resident's tax money also pays to send another 83 students in grades 7-12 to the East Windsor Regional School District.

"Residents also pay $135 more a month for water and sewer service.

[Note: The monthly water/sewer bill is $125.]

"Because there are no significant commerical ratables in the borough -- there's only Rossi's deli and restaurant and a packaging company -- the tax burden falls heavily on the residents.

"THAT'S TOO RICH for most people's blood, according to Councilman George L. Vasseur, whose family moved here from Freehold when he was 2 years old.

"They've been trying to build in this town for years, but everybody's been knocking it down," said Vasseur, now 64. 'We need some ratables.'

"Vasseur, whose father -- a butcher-turned-entrepreneur -- ran the town's only gas station for a while, said he's known many people who have moved out of the community because they couldn't afford the high taxes. Vasseur, who says he and his family want to stay here, has even entertained the thought of living out his years somewhere more progressive.

"'I'm for development. That's the way it has to be,' he said.

"But then there are those who feel like Pearl Seligman, another original settler whose parents came here from the Bronx when she was a toddler, that the borough should stay the way it is.

"'This is a community where we know each other...know each other's children...know who died,' said Seligman, an artist who used to import ethnic artwork from Africa and later made and sold her own jewelry. 'If you swamp the community with development, ... you're killing something precious.'

"While Vasseur has observed an exodus, Seligman has seen numerous people return. Her brother the opera singer, for instance, and numerous other artists, musicians and sculptors who have traveled the world always seem to come back home to Roosevelt.

"'That doesn't happen in a lot of towns,' she smiled.

"And Roosevelt is not like a lot of towns.

"In fact, the town's first major quarrel wasn't over land use, but over whether it should exist at all.

"IN 1936, Princeton scientist Albert Einstein debated with labor leader David Dubinsky, leader of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, about whether President Franklin D. Roosevelt's proposal to create a self-sustaining, utopian agri-industrial community would work.

"Dubinsky was opposed to the idea of moving jobs out of New York City, while Einstein thought the co-operative farm and clothing factory would be a great opportunity for the immigrant workers.

"Einstein won, and Jersey Homesteads -- the name under which the borough was founded -- was born. Later renamed for the president who conceived it, the town was one of 100 such communities established around the country.


"The borough's agri-industrial co-op failed around World War II because of delays in government funding. The government later sold the homes to the workers and a group of artists and intellectuals who moved into the town for its atmosphere.

"The original settler's homes were done in the Bauhaus-style -- flat-roofed, cinder block structures. They were designed so everyone's front door faced the immense forest that forms a natural 'greenbelt' along the perimeter of the 2 1/2 square-mile town. Those woods are home to numerous endangered and threatened species.

"The Bauhaus homes, the borough's unique design and its ecological sensitivity are the main reasons why it is listed on both the state and national registers of historic places.

[Note: The primary reason for listing is the town's design.]

"Land preservationists like Rod Tulloss are fighting to maintain the borough's unique qualities.

"The Fund for Roosevelt Inc., a nonprofit land and historic preservation organization that Tulloss formed in February 1999, won a planning incentive grant earlier this year from the Monmouth County Agriculture Development Board to preserve land in the northern section of the borough. That area is known as the 'northern 500' because of the approximately 500 acres of undeveloped farmland there, Tulloss said.

THE GRANT was approved and endorsed by the borough council in June.

Tulloss' organization has options to buy some 240 acres in the 'northern 500.' They plan to sell off large portions of the land for restricted farming only.

[Note: All the land under contract is planned to be resold, restricted.]

"Though she voted in favor of the land preservation effort, Councilwoman Rose D. Murphy believes growth is necessary if the borough is to prosper.

"'A town is a living entity and new people help it grow. If this town doesn't grow, it will die, because the taxes are going to go through the roof,' said 55-year-old Murphy, a resident for more than 20 years. 'I love this community. I live in one of the geodesic domes out here. I would just like to be able to afford to live here.'

"Murphy said it's bad enough that there are so many apathetic people in town, but it's extremely disheartening when people won't even consider simple solutions.

"I once suggested to the planning board that we leave room (in the master plan) for a CVS or something, and they practically fell out on the floor,' she recalled. 'They said,"We can't have anything like that here!"'

"Planners reacted similarly, she said, to proposals to conver farmland into a golf course, which would bring in much-needed tax revenue, or a rehabilitation center.


"Mayor Michael B. Hamilton, whose victory last fall was partly a result of his anti-development stance, thinks the borough's tax problems could be solved with increased financial aid from the state and more efficient fiscal management. Developing too fast could destroy the sense of community shared by residents, he said

"It's not a bar in Boston, but the borough is certainly the place 'where everybody knows your name,' according to Hamilton.

"Residents are so close-knit in Roosevelt that practically the entire community comes out to see a dozen or so students graduate from the elementary school every year, Hamilton said.

"PEOPLE CAN usually just walk into Rossi's and order 'the usual' without having to explain what they mean, said Tulloss.

"It's also not uncommon for neighbors to throw a 'rent party' to help raise money to help someone in need, he said.

"The heritage of the community is reflected in a small synagogue -- the only place of worship in a place where town meetings were once conducted entirely in Yiddish, noted Tulloss.

"The Borough Bulletin -- Roosevelt's monthly newspaper -- is supported by news articles from most citizens, who contribute their time and services as well.

"And, as Hamilton points out, everyone who grows up in the borough is connected by its unique history as soon as they walk into the elementary school and see the Shahns' fresco-style mural.

"The painting, which took several years to complete because it was done on fresh plaster, depicts the brief history shared by the original borough settlers as they traveled from Germany to Ellis Island to Manhattan -- and finally to Jersey Homesteads."

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From an article in the Windsor-Hights Herald, 5 May 2000:

"Preserved Farm Will Become Nursery

"John Ward of East Windsor became the new owner of a 73-acre permanently preserved farm in East Windsor following a public auction held today by the State Agriculture Development Committee (SADC) in Trenton.

[Note: This farm is a short distance west of Roosevelt.]

"Mr. Ward, owner of Ward's Nursery, offered $260,000 for the former Sciliano farm, which he plans to use to expand his adjacent nursery operations. The farm consists of two tracts of land with a common frontage along Whitcomb Road, bordered by Windsor-Perrineville Road to the north and Old York Road (Route 539) to the west.

"The SADC had purchased the farm in August as part of Governor Whitman's million-acre open space initiative, which calls for the preservation of an additional 500,000 acres of New Jersey farmland over the next decade. The purchase price was $660,000, with Mercer County contributing $200,000 toward the cost.

"The SADC purchased the farm under its fee simple program. Under this program, the SADC buys farms outright from willing sellers, then resells them at auction with deed restrictions that permanently preserve the land for agriculture. Proceeds from all auction sales are returned to the Farmland Preservation Program and used to preserve other New Jersey farms.

"The State Agriculture Development Committee administers New Jersey's Farmland Preservation Program. To date, 419 farms totaling 62,231 acres have been permanently protected through the program, with an additional 14,804 acres approved for preservation."

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From an article by Bob Fleming in the Examiner, 6 April 2000:

"Fund for Roosevelt Embarks on Preservation Activities

"The Fund for Roosevelt Inc. has been successful in its land preservation endeavors since its incorporation and expects to continue to be successful in the future---that was the message delivered by Dr. Rod Tulloss, the fund's president, at the organization's first annual meeting.

"Incorporated in February 1999, the fund achieved nonprofit recognition in May as an organization founded to preserve open space, farmland, history and community in Roosevelt, Tulloss said.

"'The Board of Trustees for the fund began actively negotiating in August to purchase the first farmland to be acquired for land preservation,' he said. 'We entered the Farmland Preservation Program last fall as an extension of our efforts to preserve land for open space.'

"The fund lists 76 households in Roosevelt as its members, with more than 100 members comprising the total ranks, Tulloss said. Members include current residents, former residents and individuals with family members residing or who previously resided in Roosevelt.

"'More than 30 other individuals and foundations from 11 states have joined [or otherwise supported] our organization,' Tulloss said. 'You can see that support comes from a broad range from within and outside our town borders.'

"According to Tulloss, the fund experienced several 'firsts' during 1999, which included receiving the first acquisition grant from Monmouth County [sic] Conservation Foundation; being the first Monmouth County applicant for the state's Planning Incentive Grant [program]; and to have the first Environmental Endowment for New Jersey acquisition grant application pending approval.

"The fund began its land acquisition and farmland preservation efforts by targeting approximately 500 [sic] acres in the northern section of Roosevelt, west of Route 571. At this time, the fund holds options on more than 230 acres in Roosevelt and approximately 9 acres in Millstone.

Note: The northern farming area of Roosevelt is sometimes called the "northern 500 [acres]" in its entirety. The portion of this area west of Route 571 is less than 300 acres.

"'That acreage was made up by combining the diverse lots of three landowners into two farms, which are north and south of Nurko Road,' Tulloss said. 'The properties are owned by Ann and Anna Nurko, John and Concetta Cuzzolino and D'Amico and Sons.'

"For each farm, one inseverable acre will be designated for a home to front on Nurko Road. The sale of the development rights for these properties to the county will be complete this year, he said. The development rights are then stripped from the property and the owner retains title to the property until it is sold for farmland use only.

"The county has rated the two farms as third and sixth among a group of 11 applicants for the farmland preservation program, Tulloss said.

"The fund is awaiting the announcement of the level of farmland preservation funding for land preservation efforts, which is expected in August, according to representatives of the Monmouth County Agriculture Development Board.

Note: At present, it appears that announcement of funding through the Planning Incentive Grant program may occur earlier than through the traditional Farmland Preservation Program.

"According to Tulloss, the properties are listed with David J. Ennis Associates, PIttstown, the fund's land acquisition for conservation consultant. Legal consultation is being provided by James P. Wyse, a local attorney.

Note: Mr. Wyse's office and home are in northern New Jersey.

"'We have already identified a buyer for the northern farm and don't expect to have a problem identifying future buyers for other properties,' Tulloss said.

"Funding for the organization comes from several sources, including county and state contributions to farmland preservation, proceeds from the resale of properties, donations from individuals and foundations and loans, according to Tulloss.

"'At this time, approximately 65 percent of our income is spent directly on our land acquisition and preservation goals,' he said. 'Farmland preservation is happening all around us.'

Note: The 65% figure is for the first year of operation (1999). Assuming that all closings occure in 2000, the figure for percentage of income spent on goal will probably be in excess of 95%.

"According to Tulloss, involvement with the fund was a learning experience for all who were involved with it during the past year.

"'The town is valued for its history, its design and creativity, for its ecology, farming and the vital community that it is,' Tulloss said. 'Roosevelt sells itself if given the opportunity. There's no place else like it.'

"Looking ahead to the future, Tulloss said the Fund for Roosevelt could benefit from membership in a chamber of commerce, which should be considered by Roosevelt residents.

"Trustees and officers of the fund for 2000-01 are: Rod Tulloss, president; Kirk Rothfuss, secretary; Michael Ticktin, treasurer; Sol Libsohn, Alan Mallach and Judith Trachtenberg. The Fund for Roosevelt Web site is"

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From The Daily Record [of the Maryland State Bar Association], 11 March 2000:

"Small Town with Utopian History Fighting Over Plans for Development

The AP wire story of 8 February 2000 (see below).

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From an article by Joseph Sapia in the Asbury Park Press, 21 February 2000:

"Tiny Town's Growth Creates Big Divide

"Roosevelt debate

"The issue of development -- how much and where -- is sharply dividing this tiny town in western Monmouth County.

"The different sides are pro-community -- those opposing the recent proposals trying to retain one of the last small-town feelings in Central Jersey -- and pro-development -- those trying to preserve a municipality with high property taxes and virtually no commerical base.

"Borough Clerk Krystyna Bieracka-Olejnik, for one, is 'not really sure' what is the correct way to proceed.

"'I moved here 18 years ago and I love this town,' Bieracka-Olejnik said, 'On the other hand, I think people are suffering because of high taxes. Something has to be done with the high taxes. How? I don't know.'

"As if to symbolize the different feelings, Phyllis Lugannani of Pine Drive said, 'I've talked to a lot of people (and) there are pros and cons from all sides. I'm not good about change, but I've learned to deal with it.'

"Others have more definitive views.

"The talk of the town has been a proposal that was recently rejected for up to 65 single-family homes next to the town cemetery, where residents are entitled to a plot, and a seniors community of up to 350 that has been informally discussed.

"In opposition were, for example, Mayor Michael B. Hamilton, whose win in the November election was at least partially attributable to that position, and Rod Tulloss, chairman of the borough Environmental Commission and president of the Fund for Roosevelt community group. Tulloss founded the Fund for Roosevelt in February 1999 to preserve open space and manage it and to support the Roosevelt Public School.

"On the other side are Borough Council members Rose D. Murphy and George L. Vasseur, who supported the projects.

"'Am I pro or con?' asked Vasseur, whose borough roots go back to 1938. 'Build! I just feel the town needs it (development) to survive.'

Vasseur said the borough simply needs ratables to help foot bills.

For every $100 of assessed property, Roosevelt taxpayers pay about $5.33, with about 76 percent of that going to schools alone, followed by 14 percent for municipal costs and 9 percent for county costs.

Local taxes of about $1.4 million support the approximately $2 million in school distric operating costs, according to Karen Minutolo, the school district's chief financial officer. She said 83 borough children attend the kindergarten-to-sixth grade school, while another 83 are sent to seventh through 12th grades in the East Windsor Regional School District.

"Also, property owners pay $125 a month for sewer and water utilities, said Murphy, who has lived in town about 20 years.

"So what should be the last planned residential development allowed in the rural area along Route 571 in western Monmouth County before the door slams?

"Some wish to leave it at the 1930s, federally supported Jersey Homesteads community, with its flat-roofed homes, along with garment factory and surrounding farms. The social experiment of the cooperative community failed, but it evolved into today's approximately 2-square-mile borough whose 900 or so residents know each other, follow community news on a bulletin board and watch for home-made death notices taped on the post office door.

"But others think it should be future development, such as the 65-home proposal and the senior citizens community under discussion.

"Or should it be some other development proposal down the road?

"While Murphy estimates the recent development proposals would have reduced water and sewer by about 40 percent to 50 percent and taxes 30 percent to 40 percent, Hamilton questioned if development would lower costs. Hamilton thinks that simply adding ratables does not necessarily translate into lower costs.

"Hamilton suggested other ways to lower Roosevelt's taxes -- such as bringing in light industry or professional buildings, rather than residences.

"As for the seniors housing and 65-home development, Hamilton said, 'Our infrastructure won't handle that, either.'

"Hamilton, a 10-year resident, said there probably would be an effect on the local first aid and fire services.

"In December, the borough Planning Board turned down Matzel & Mumford's proposal to build up to 65 homes next to the cemetery and behind the Solar Village affordable housing on the approximately 110-acre Notterman tract. The board denied the application when its deadline to make a decision was reached, and the developer declined to agree to a time extension.

"It is unclear if Matzel & Mumford will reapply for approval, which it can do. A company representative could not be reached for comment.

"No application has been filed for the age-restricted community, but there had been informal discussions to build up to 350 homes on about 200 acres at Route 571 and Oscar Drive. U.S. Home said it plans to go forth with its idea.

"'It is definitely our intention to file a formal application for approval in Roosevelt and to continue the process that we started informally some time ago," said Greg Snyder, New Jersey division president of U.S. Home.

"'If everything goes well, it (the filing) would be within six months,' said Debbie Williams, U.S. Home's marketing administrator.

"'The senior village, I thought would help us tremendously,' Vasseur said.

"One, according to Vasseur and Murphy, is a seniors community does not generate school-aged children.

"'And you get a lot of volunteers from seniors, people to help the school,' Vasseur said. 'And it (seniors developments) seems to be the going thing around here. If you're going to have 350 (homes in a seniors community), put 700, both sides of the road (along Route 571). Everybody's got to live somewhere.'

[Note: Emphasis added.]

"'I'm not opposed to any new development,' Hamilton said, '(But) I think it ought to be consistent with what we've had and what works.'

"The borough as a whole is listed on the state and federal Registers of Historic Places because of the unique plan that created it, Hamilton said.

"'The proposals we've seen have not (been consistent with the community),' Hamilton said. 'They've been departures.'

"'The town was designed in an avant-garde manner,' said Jacob Landau, the internationally known artist who lives on Lake Drive. 'It was designed to enhance the community and be in touch with the natural environment around.'

"Besides having planning consistent with the town, new development should come in increments Hamilton said. By coming in all at once, it could change the character of the town.

"'I think when you add a disproportional group of like-minded voters and you bring them into a community, they come in with their own needs, and their needs are going to be different,' Hamilton said.

"For example, a seniors community might vote down a school budget, or it could have a homeowners association. With a homeowners association, for a specific development, the development could, in effect, have two voices -- one in the association and another in the town government, whereas other townspeople would not be able to take part in the development's association, Hamilton said.

"Landau himself opposes the seniors community proposal because of its size -- something, he said, 'would be equivalent to the town as it now stands today, in other words, another town.'

"'It would destroy the existing town, the character of the town,' said Landau, adding taxes would probably go up to service it.

"But Landau, a borough resident since 1954, said he did not think the 65-home development was 'as big a threat.'

"'We have tax problems, no doubt about it,' Landau said. 'It's my impression taxes never go down.'

"Lugannani, a Trenton native, has lived in town 16 years; her husband, Donald, has lived in the borough for two decades or more. The Lugannanis live on the dead-end section of Pine Drive, with the group of houses in that area protected on three sides by the state operated and preserved Assunpink Wildlife Management Area.

"'Where I live, they're not going to develop,' Phyllis Lugannani said. 'It's not going to interfere (directly) with my life.'

"Lugannani, though, balances her feelings. On one hand, there is the town that she describes as 'so nice,' even though its niceness requires residents to drive out of town for miles to a supermarket.

"'Its expensive to live here, but it's expensive to live anywhere,' said Lugannani, adding that residents could use tax relief. 'My mom, she lives in Trenton; she's locking her doors.'

"But Lugannani does not oppose new development.

"'I'm not the person who says, "You've got to keep it the way it was,"' Lugannani said. 'But I wouldn't want to see strip malls, that type of thing. All of a sudden we've got Laundromats.'

"Vasseur said pushes for development have come up 'off and on' over the years. Post-Jersey Homesteads development that actually came into town, according to Landau and Vasseur, includes the houses at the end of Pine Drive where the Lugannanis live; houses along Eleanor Lane, which leads to the cemetery; the Lake Drive area; houses on Farm Lane; and Solar Village.

"They were accepted 'because they didn't come en masse, radical change all at once,' Landau said.

"Beside the recent development proposals, another major planning event coming up is an update of the master plan, a guide for development in the town. How this will go is something yet to be seen.

"While the Planning Board is to draft a new master plan, it is up to the Borough Council to have ordinances in place supporting the plan.

"Also, Tulloss, who has lived in the town about 25 years, noted there is an application for public funds to buy the development rights to about 240 acres of farmland on Route 571 at Nurko Road.

"'I don't think anything's going to happen,' Murphy said. 'It was a nice dream to think this town would become affordable. I see costs escalating. I'll believe development will happen when they start digging.'

"Murphy said she thinks developers were turned off to Roosevelt by scrutiny of the Notterman tract development proposal. However, opponents of the proposal said it appeared the Planning Board would have approved the development eventually.

"For now, opponents speak of each other with some trepidation.

"'They (those associated with being anti-development) could afford to live here, and that's the way they want to keep it -- a private little village,' Vasseur said.

"'I see the value of living in a town that's a real community and not just a commuter place,' Hamilton said. 'We're kind of the East Village of Monmouth County. We're just different. We've always been different, mainly because our origins have been different.'"

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From The San Diego Union-Tribune, 20 February 2000:

"Protecting Utopia

"Residents of a New Deal town fight to keep interlopers out."

The AP wire story of 8 February 2000 (see below).

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From the Miami Herald, 20 February 2000:

"'Utopian' Idealists Plan to Keep Developers at Bay

"Retirement community homes, tax relief at issue in N.J. town."

The AP wire story of 8 February 2000 (see below).

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From the Statesville Record & Landmark (Statesville, NC), 9 February 2000:

"Small Village's Battle Against Development
Splits Town

"Original purpose of town named for FDR was to entice Jewish garment workers to leave NYC."

The AP wire story of 8 February 2000 (see below).

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From The Philadelphia Inquirer, 9 February 2000:

"A Town Where Development
--- if not Time --- Stood Still

"Einstein himself fought for the Utopia called Roosevelt."

The AP wire story of 8 February 2000 (see below).

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From the Trentonian, 9 February 2000:

"Jersey Town Fights over Development"

A truncated version of the AP wire story of 8 February 2000 (see below).

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From the Trenton Times, 9 February 2000:

"Town Holds onto New Deal Dream

"Developers eye historic Roosevelt"

The AP wire story of 8 February 2000 (see below).

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From the wire of the Associated Press by Amy Westfeldt, 8 February 2000:

"Small Town Clashes Over Development

"The first big quarrel in this small borough was over whether it should even exist. That issue was won by no less than Albert Einstein.

"The scientist came down from his Princeton home in 1936 to debate a union leader about whether President Franklin D. Roosevelt's proposal to create a self-sustaining, utopian farming community was a good one.

[Note: The "labor leader" was David Dubinsky.]

"He won the debate, and so was born Jersey Homesteads, named later after the president who founded it.

"More than 60 years later, Roosevelt's 900 or so residents have morphed from Jewish farmers into an eclectic group of artists, intellectuals and environmentalists who still pride themselves on being fighters.

[Note: The original settlers were members of the Ladies Garment Workers' Union, some of whom became farmers. A garment factory was the core of the town's industry.]

"`We're very active and very vocal about our feelings,' says Mayor Michael Hamilton. `Most of the time we're able to still wave at each other on the streets and say hello to each other in the post office.'

"That might explain why the battle raging in Roosevelt these days has been more intense than most. A developer wants to build hundreds of new retirement community homes.

"Police have been called in to break up Council meetings. A mayor who supported development was voted out of office. And after losing preliminary approval to build 65 homes, one developer said he would never return, calling his dealings with the town `a very, very, brutal, frustrating and bitter experience.'

"Supporters of new housing say it will help ease a tax burden in this borough of flat-roofed homes shielded from strip malls by cornfields. The town has no major businesses and one of the state's highest property tax rates.

"Roosevelt also has virtually no crime, a town center with nothing but a post office, a deli and an elementary school of about 80 students. Opponents of development say the housing will double the town's population and destroy the community atmosphere.

"Roosevelt has places on the National and New Jersey Register of Historic Places for its Bauhaus-style homes, its wetlands and history as one of about 100 communities in the nation created as planned farming communities during the New Deal.

"The government built Jersey Homesteads specifically for Jewish garment workers more than 50 miles away in New York City. The workers were paid $500 each to move there and run both a farm and a clothing factory.

[Note: There is a significant error in this paragraph. The workers had to save up $500 in the depression to make a down payment on their new homes. This was a great burden to them and demonstrated tremendous commitment. They most assuredly were not paid to move to Jersey Homesteads.]

"Labor leaders opposed it because it was nonunion, but Einstein and others called it a social utopia that gave city workers a chance for suburban life.

[Note: Jersey Homestead was a union town with a union shop. The argument was over moving union jobs out of New York City.]

"The utopia failed around World War II, however, because the garment workers had little farming skill. The government sold the homes to the workers and to a group of liberal artists and intellectuals who found the town's history intriguing.

[Note: Limited farming skills were overcome by hard work. Government delays in equipping the factory are considered one of the major causes of the rather rapid failure of the original plan.]

"The town managed the next half-century to remain relatively untouched by the suburban growth surrounding it. About 15 new homes were built on the dozen streets that make up the town, students learned in classes of 10 and residents walked a few blocks to hike in the woods.

[Note: The original number of homes in the town was about 200. There are now 328 housing units. The growth has been slow and somewhat spread out over the intervening 63 years.]

"Town officials, however, wrote ordinances in the past few years that made available large parcels for land for residential development. A former mayor, Bert Ellentuck, said taxes from new homes would help shore up a 60-year-old infrastructure that includes a failing sewer plant and roads in need of repair.

Note: The sewer plant is not failing. There is infiltration in the old sewer lines and the towns' wells are aging. Roads are in good condition. The main road through town is maintained by Monmouth County.]

"The zoning ordinances brought Matzel & Mumford of Hazlet in 1998 to the town with a proposal for 65 homes in a cornfield surrounded by woods, a few homes and the town cemetery.

"Residents objected to the number of houses and said the developers' plan wouldn't protect an environment of sweetgum and beech trees, rare ferns and the endangered wood turtle.

[Note: There is both dry and wet forest adjacent to the site. Sweetgum, Red Maple, and Swamp White Oak are typical of the lower areas. Beach, hickory, birch, cherry, diverse oaks, and some pine are typical of the dryer areas. 60% of the ferns occurring in New Jersey have been reported from within the 1.9+ square miles of the borough. The Wood Turtle is classified as "threatened," not "endangered."]

"`They thought they could put one over on a little town,' said Rod Tulloss, a biologist who is leading an effort to seek state and private grants to buy up acres of undeveloped land in town.

"Tulloss and others said the developers monopolized hearings with their own witnesses and tried to push through a project that would force the town to provide more services.

"`They missed a tremendous opportunity to solve some fiscal problems for the town,' said Roy DeBoer, the company's project manager. He said in 20 years, he had never had a worse experience with a project. Witnesses were cross-examined for days on `garbage minutia,' he said.

[Note: The hearing meetings were weekly at their most intense. One night a week for approximately three hours, the hearing went on. No witness was questioned for more than a few hours. Matzel and Mumford were offered an opportunity to extend the hearings if they wished to do so. By many counts, there was a majority for the development on the Planning Board.]

"The Planning Board rejected Matzel & Mumford's preliminary application because the hearings hadn't allowed time for opposing witnesses, but welcomed the company to apply again. DeBoer said it wouldn't return.

"Another developer, U.S. Home in Freehold, is in discussions to build 350 homes on a wheatfield off the town's main road. Town officials recently asked for a proposal with slightly fewer homes.

[Note: Much of the land involved is protected from development by a town ordinance for which a consensus was developed painstakingly over nearly a decade. The current Council's willingness to change zoning ordinances suddenly during the last two years might change the picture.]

"`We're really like a family,' Hamilton said. If developers like U.S. Home are allowed to come in, `just for the sake of lowering taxes, we'll develop every parcel in town that's open space.

"`We'll double the size of the town overnight.'"

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An article by Bob Fleming from the Examiner vol. 7, no. 21, 15 November 1999, pp. 1,13:

"Concert Marks Fund's First Land Deal

"Fund for Roosevelt preserves land at Rt. 571-Nurko Road

"With the signing of a first option agreement on 134 acres of farmland, organizers of the Fund for Roosevelt are anticipating that future options agreements will follow.

"The Fund's board of trustees successfully negotiated obtaining an option on 134 acres of farmland in the northern part of town along Route 571 on both sides of Nurko Road and recently completed the deal, according to Fund representatives.

[Note: The "deal" was the signing of the option contract, not the purchase of the land.]

"The Fund celebrated its first land preservation agreement with a benefit concert and conservation mini-fair at the Roosevelt Public School on Oct. 23.

"'The program marked the first public fund-raising event of the Fund for Roosevelt, a nonprofit corporation founded to preserve open space, farmland, history, and to heighten community awareness on these subjects in the borough,' said Dr. Rod Tulloss, president of the Fund.

"According to Tulloss, the Fund's directors signed an agreement with the property owner, D'Amico and Sons, that gives the Fund the right to apply for state preservation funding on behalf of the property owner. If successful, the state will strip the development rights from the 134-acre property and the owner will retain title until the property is sold for farmland use only.

[Note: Actually, the Fund sells the development rights and the land in order to pay D'Amico and Sons for the land.]

"Although the property owner does not live at the site, the land is currently being farmed, he said.

"Tulloss said about 75 people attended the Oct. 23 evening program, including Roosevelt and Millstone Township residents, as well as local and county open space activists and environmental specialists.

"'The evening was a successful one for the Fund, as we raised more than $4,000 in donations,' Tulloss said. 'Although that may not seem like a large amount, it is added to a $10,000 matching grant, giving us a total of $14,000 in available funds.'

[Note: Unfortunately not accurately reported. The matching of the grant was completed thanks to the benefit evening. Most of the money is dedicated to paying for legal and consulting services, some of which had already been rendered.]

"Tulloss said the money raised at the benefit concert will be applied toward the Fund's operating expenses, which include consultant and legal fees, as well as the administrative costs of real estate closings to be funded.

"'The performance of the Roosevelt String Band was a big hit with the attendees,' Tulloss said. 'Many individuals who heard the band perform for the first time remarked how professional they sounded and appeared. They helped to make the evening a memorable one for all who attended the program.'

[Note: Quote partially invented. Since members of the Band are indeed professionals, saying they are "professional" is hardly a sufficient compliment to them. They are outstanding musicians and generous ones.]

"He said the conservation mini-fair attracted the interest of Millstone officials, who have expressed an interest in modeling an organization similar to the Fund in their own community.

"'Since Millstone and Roosevelt are neighboring communities, it makes sense that both would be involved and benefit from farmland preservation and open space planning ventures,' Tulloss said.

"Looking ahead to future land acquisition plans, Tulloss said the Fund has not planned its next major fund-raising event, but the board of trustees members have suggested that residents consider making a donation to the Fund on behalf of family member or friend as a gift as the holiday seasons draws [sic] near.

"'We're attempting to preserve all the farmland and open space that is appropriate for preservation, so that present and future generations can continue to enjoy the way of life we want to preserve in Roosevelt,' Tulloss said. 'As we negotiate for more acreage, which we're in the process of doing now, we'll have to look at other fund-raising activities to attract larger sums of money to fund these land acquisitions.'

"Tulloss said the future success of the Fund depends upon a good working relationship between borough officials and the Fund's board of trustees.

"'I'm confident that we can work together on behalf of all Roosevelt residents to meet our goals of farmland preservation, open space maintenance, and the protection and restoration of the borough's historic elements,' he said."

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From an article by Robert Hanley from The Metro Section of the New York Times vol. 149, no. 51,707, 11 November 1999, pp. B1,B7:

"Reality Catches Up to a Utopian Legacy

"A New Jersey oasis debates high taxes and suburban growth.

"A town with New Deal roots and a communal spirit is at a crossroads.

"This is a town that boasts of Albert Einstein as a founding father. Its first citizens were immigrant garment workers fleeing Manhattan tenements during the Depression. Their goal was to create a community around a cooperative farm and factory. Since then, this feisty little town of 900 in the center of the state has cherished a history of happy isolationism.

"From its original settlers to a postwar influx of artists and musicians, and now, to refugees from the suburbs, Roosevelt has been a place of solace and slow pace on a two-lane country road, of communal spirit, of woods, cornfields and little commerce.

"Sixty-three years after its creation, Roosevelt has only about 320 homes, one school, a tiny town hall with a firehouse, plenty of insular spirit and no shops, save a pizzeria.

[Note: The so-called "pizzeria" is an Italian restaurant and "necessities" store that bakes several kinds of bread fresh every morning except Sunday and Monday...and also makes pizza.]

"This may soon change. Two developers want to build 415 houses, and many residents are upset by the prospect of suburbia finally pushing into the cornfields.

"Jacob Landau, an 83-year-old artist, is not happy about this.

"'The town has a unity and a communal quality which we all appreciate,' he said. 'We have a liberal aspect that would be destroyed.'

"But Roosevelt has one of the highest property tax rates in New Jersey, and supporters of the new housing say it will spread the burden around. 'There's a core of people here who are 60's protesters, and they love to fight.' Mayor Lee Allen said. 'They're ignoring the fact the town is changing because of higher taxes and people having to move.

"'We have two choices,' Mr. Allen said, either expand the amount of taxable property or merge with another town. "That's an unpopular position,' he said, 'but unless we do something, we're setting ourselves up for failure.'

"The development plans have put Roosevelt at a defining crossroads for the second time in its history, and the current fight will have as much impact on the town's future as a 1936 debate did on its creation.

"In that dispute, Einstein came over from Princeton, about 12 miles away, to square off with David Dubinsky, a prominent Manhattan labor leader, over the philosophy behind a Roosevelt administration proposal to create a community called Jersey Homesteads. Jewish garment workers from Manhattan paid $500 each to live there and jointly own and run a clothing factory and a farm.

"Einstein hailed the co-op as a social utopia for workers. Dubinsky, leader of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, opposed the factory because it was a nonunion shop. Einstein prevailed, and the Roosevelt administration established Jersey Homesteads as one of about 100 such communities around the country.

[Note: The Jersey Homesteads factory was, in fact, a union shop. Dubinsky opposed, on principal, moving jobs out of New York City.]

"The co-op failed before World War II, partly because the workers had little skill as businessmen and farmers, and partly, people in town say, because Dubinsky drove away wholesale buyers for the co-op's clothing.

"After the war, the government sold the 250 or so cinder-block, flat-roofed houses it had built to the garment workers who had not left and to a new wave of settlers: artists, musicians and writers attracted by the town's solitude and progressive politics. The residents renamed the town for President Roosevelt.

"Save for a few dozen log cabins, ranch-style houses, and elaborate geodesic domes built in the 1970's and 80's, Roosevelt has changed little in the last 50 years. It is now an anomaly, an oasis of fields and woods surrounded by the suburban sprawl of Monmouth County and neighboring Mercer County. The center of town is the post office, the pizzeria and the elementary school. Crime is all but nonexistent: two larcenies and two burglaries in 1998. Roosevelt has no stores, banks, gasoline stations, pharmacies or ball fields.

[Note: Behind the school there is a field used for little league soccer and baseball and by the students of the school.]

But it has a theater group, a string band, a monthly newspaper, 607 registered voters, seven firefighters and two fire trucks and treasured spots on both the National and New Jersey Registers of Historic Places. But those designations cannot prevent privately financed development on privately owned land, state officials said.

[Note: The entire Borough is listed as an historic district on both registers. The only municipality so listed in New Jersey and one of only 15 in the United States.]

"Roosevelt was placed on the registers primarily for its original co-op factory; its boxy houses, inspired by the German Bauhaus movement; and the woodlands behind all the homes.

"The factory now houses a packaging company, a cabinet maker and the studio of sculptor, Jonathan Shahn, the son of the artist Ben Shahn, who was perhaps Roosevelt's most famous son. Ben Shahn's mural of the history of the co-op, painted at teh school, is regarded as a town landmark.

"Politics has always been left of the mainstream. Opposition to the Vietnam War and nuclear weapons ran deep. Sentiments for women's rights and civil rights were always strong.

"When Gov. Thomas H. Kean, a Republican, ran for re-election in 1985, he won by a landslide, with 564 of the state's 567 towns. Roosevelt was one of the three that voted against him. (The others were two tiny boroughs in Camden Conty: Audubon Park and Chesilhurst.)

"Art Shapiro, 61, Roosevelt's historian, remembers agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation snooping around twon for Communist sympathizers during the McCarthy era.

"Mr. Shapiro also noted that of the 11 people he entered kindergarten with in 1943, five still live here. He said that each June nearly everybody in town attends graduation ceremonies for the sixth graders.

"'It's not like an ordinary little town,' he said.

"Opponents of the new housing fear the loss of Roosevelt's homey culture and the open spaces that attracted the developers in the first place. Matzel & Mumford, a subsidiary of K. Hovnanian Enterprises, one of New Jersey's largest housing developers, has proposed building 65 single-family houses in a 100-acre field near the town cemetery. The other proposal, from U.S. Home in Freehold, is for 350 town houses restricted to people 55 and older, to be built in a 150-acre cornfield along Route 571, the little road to town.

"Supporters of the housing say they respect Roosevelt's history. But, they stress, the town needs a big infusion of new taxable property because the tax rate of $5.03 per $100 of property value is too big a burden for some residents. Officials say taxes on the original and modest Bauhaus-style homes average about $5,000 a year. Residents in some of the newer, fancier homes grumble about paying up to $10,000.

"Nearly 80 percent of property taxes is spent on the $2 million budget for the elementary shcool and its 83 students and for tuition for another 83 middle school and high school students who attend classes in neighboring Hightstown. School officials have appealed to state education officials to add $300,000 to the $500,000 that Roosevelt gets in state school aid, hoping to ease the tax burden enough to avoid the need for all the new housing.

"In another effort to keep development at bay, a local electrical engineer and biologist, Rod Tulloss, has set up a nonprofit corporation that is seeking millions of dollars in state grants and private donations to buy the town's undeveloped land and resell it, with strict anti-development deed restrictions, to farmers. Although Mr. Tulloss said the fund has an option to buy 134 acres and is negotiating the purchase of 103 more, neither plot involves the proposed housing sites.

"Disagreements over the housing run deep. On Nov. 2, Mr. Allen, the mayor since 1992, was defeated in the election by Michael Hamilton, a critic of the houseing plans, by a vote of 242 to 105.

"One of the staunchest critics of the new housing is Pearl Seligman, the 77-year-old daughter of pioneering garment workers.

"'I don't want to be owned by a damned corporation,' Mrs. Selgiman said of the developers. 'This is a precious community, an American dream community, a real place, not a development. It's about to be destroyed, and it breaks my heart.'

"For now, the 65-house proposal is stalled because Matzel & Mumford demanded approval of its plan late last month, at the end of the state-mandated review period of 120 days. The board rejected the proposal temporarily, but gave Matzel & Mumford the option of resuming negotiations by year's end. The company's lawyer, Thomas Farino, said it has not decided whether to do that or sue Roosevelt. Meanwhile, the Borough Council and planning board continue talking about the 350-unit project with U.S. Home, Mayor Allen said.

"And, on Roosevelt's few little streets, the bickering continues.

"Ray Grasso, 44, a carpenter who built his family's geodesic dome 15 years ago, worries about his property taxes of $8,300.

"'We're just blue-collar workers here; at least I am,' Mr. Grasso said. 'It takes everything we've got just to meet the mortagage and taxes.' He favors only the housing project for people 55 and older because, he said, it would not generate a flood of new children and drive school taxes higher.

"Michel Guye-Hillis, a native of Switzerland who is a French teacher in nearby Cranbury, wants Roosevelt to stay as it is.

"'My taxes have doubled like everybody else's in town,' she said. 'We moved here because of the way it looks. It's been beautifully planned, with a sense of space. I would hate to see the town turned into another sprawling development.'

"The fire chief in Roosevelt, Kim Dexheimer, says he, like many others, wants tax relief. But he said the rhetoric about new housing is 'too hot.' He added, 'Both sides have to give up some of their passion and deal with what's real.'

"Helen Barth, who came here in 1936 at the age of 3 when her parents joined the co-op, said that in the last 10 years a growing transiency has started eroding Roosevelt's old spirit of a communal and caring family. Not everybody says hello anymore at the post office, she said. But Mrs. Barth said that the age-restricted housing project might not be so bad, noting, 'I'm getting old, you know.'"

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From an article by Bob Fleming from the Examiner vol. 7, no. 20, 4 November 1999, pp. 1,5:

"Board Rejects Plan for 65 Homes

"Following several months of public hearings and testimony on an application to build 65 single-family homes, the Roosevelt Planning Board has voted unanimously to deny the application.

"Board members said their decision was prompted by the applicant's refusal to grant a time extension on the application and what they said was a lack of time to hear testimony from all of the board's professional consultants, comments from the public and testimony from witnesses that members of the public wanted to present.


"As the meeting hour approached 11 p.m., the board's chairman, Joe Zahora, asked the applicant's attorney, Thomas Farino, for an extension of time, since the board had not yet heard from all its witnesses and the public had not been given the opportunity to comment on the application and present its own expert witnesses.

"'There will be no extension beyond tonight's hearing,' Farino replied.


"As the meeting hour neared midnight and a decision had to be rendered, Donato [Planning Board attorney] requested that Mayor Lee Allen and Councilman Henry [(sic) Harry] Parker step down from deciding the application. She explained they were prohibited from doing so by the state statute that prohjibits members of the governing body from deciding any application with a 'D' variance, which Donato determined was a part of the Matzel and Mumford application.

"Allen and Parker stepped down and board member Gail Hunton made a motion to deny the application without prejudice.

"'I'm being forced to make a decision tonight when we haven't heard from all our professionals and the public hasn't had an opportunity to be heard,' Hunton said. 'Being pressured to make a decision under these circumstances leaves me not inclined to find in the applicant's favor.'

"'I believe the applicant's proposal demonstrates substantial compliance,' said Zahora. 'We're micro-managing this project to incredible detail, and that's not fair to the applicant.'

"Board members debated the motion for 15 minutes before [at three minutes to midnight when the application would have been accepted by default] voting unanimously to deny the application without prejudice.

"'We fail to grant board approval based on inadequate time to craft an application that is mutually agreeable to the board and the applicant,' Hunton said prior to the roll call. 'The application fails to meet the PCD [Planned Community Development] ordinance, the statements of purpose, the sewer and water criteria, design standards, and open space buffering requirements.'

"According to Donato, a denial without prejudice does not preclude the applicant from returning to the board with another proposal for consideration."


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Editorial from the Examiner vol. 7, no. 18, 21 October 1999, p. 12:

"Fund takes a very big first step

"Organizers of the Fund for Roosevelt, Inc. have taken a big first step in the name of land preservation with their announcement this week that the group will acquire a major piece of borough property.

"Officers of the nonprofit group are preparing to sign their first option agreement to purchase nearly 130 acres of land off Route 571 on both sides of Nurko Road, near the Millstone Township border.

"This acquisition represents an important and proactive step in preserving acres of land to be retained for farm use or simply maintained in its natural state.

"At a time when residents and officials in many New Jersey municipalities are just beginning to raise the banner for land preservation, Roosevelt has found within its own community the right mix of talent, experience and dedication from a group of volunteers who are committed to raising community awareness and finding the best ways to save a precious resource --- open space and farmland.

"In doing so, the members of the Fund for Roosevelt are also ensuring that the historical significance of their town will be protected from some of the unpleasant realities that often accompany residential and commercial development in pristine environments.

"The organizers and supporters of the Fund for Roosevelt are to be commended for taking action to protect the environment that borough residents have come to cherish and enjoy for six decades.

"As noted by the group's president, Rod Tulloss, when announcing the imminent signing of the purchase agreement, assuming this position of stewardship is in the best interest of all.

[Note: Two errors. The option agreement had already been signed when the press release went out, and the supposed comment of R. T. is a sympathetic invention.]

"We believe residents should support the Fund's initiative to preserve open space and farmland in Roosevelt so that present and future generations will continue to enjoy the environment that has existed there since this historic community was founded more than a half-century ago."

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From an article by Peter Genovese in The Star-Ledger (Newark), 3 June 1999, pp. 19, 25.

"Little Roosevelt Puzzles over new Sight: Developers

"Many in town of 890 fear for its character


"Things have scarcely changed over the years in Roosevelt, a tiny borough shoehorned into the western end of Monmouth County. Its residents have long considered the town, which has become a haven for artists, a modern-day Brigadoon, a tranquil place sheltered from the outside world.


"There are proposals to add as many as 400 single-family homes at opposite ends of the two-square-mile town, a move residents say would spell the end of Roosevelt as they have known it.

"'This is a unique town,' said Rod Tulloss, sitting on the floor of the school gym, where the Roosevelt Festival of the Arts was held over the weekend. 'Roosevelt is the only municipality in New Jersey --- and one of only 15 in the nation --- that is entirely on the National Register of Historic Places. There are not many towns where you can walk a block in either [sic] direction and be in endangered species habitat.'

"'They want to put another city on top of this one,' said Sol Libsohn, an artist who has lived here since 1947. 'It'll overwhelm whatever happened here before.'

"'We're looking at a juncture in this community's history unlike anything it has faced since its inception,' said Mayor Lee Allen, a 21-year Roosevelt resident who favors the two proposed developments.

"Roosevelt's first seven families moved into town in 1936: the settlement, originally known as Jersey Homesteads, was conceived by Benjamin Brown, a Ukrainian Jewish immigrant and a strong believer in cooperatives. But Brown's grand experiment turned out a failure. The garment workers had no farming experience. The dairy lasted barely a year, the poultry plant survived until 1940. Brown died in 1939, penniless.

"But the town --- renamed after the death of Franklin Roosevelt in 1945 --- soon became a haven for artists such as Ben Shahn, a noted social realist painter, and Libsohn, who roamed the country in the 1930s as a photographer for the Work Progress Administration.

"The 55-foot-long mural Shahn painted to commemorate the town's founding is splashed across a wall inside the Roosevelt Elementary School. In one section of the mural, Albert Einstein is shown leading what one account described as 'a band of bedraggled but heroic Jewish workers from urban darkness into the sunshine of southern New Jersey.'

[Note: The last quote is rather wide of the mark. The "bedraggled" band includes images of others, such as Steinmetz (the great electrical engineer), who are bringing treasures of the mind from a land of oppression into the United States. The mural has a timeline that roughly moves from left to right. The conception of Jersey Homesteads is on the right. The band crossing the bridge of immigration is depicted on the left.]

"'I was 4, 5 years old when I saw Albert Einstein up there giving a speech to the townspeople,' said Cohen, pointing to a walkway above the school's main hall. 'I remember his disheveled hair --- the hair you never forget.'

"Among the townsfolk fighting the proposed development are sculptor Jonathan Shahn, son of Ben Shahn, and his mother, Bernarda, 96, who spoke at the arts festival.


"The two proposals under discussion would add 65 single-family homes on one acre lots at one end of town and up to 350 smaller age-restricted homes at the other. The borough planning board is reviewing a developer's application for the 65 single-family homes. U. S. Homes is interested in developing the other site, according to Allen, but no formal application has been submitted.

[Note: 65 single-family homes with 4 bedrooms could contribute so many children to the public school that the homes will cost twice as much in taxes as they will bring in. Houses on one-fifth acre, not one acre, lots were proposed by October, 1999. There are no lots of this small size in the present town. The latest site plan violates many provisions of the town's landscape ordinance and depicts a development that has been characterized by a Planning Board consultant as not in keeiping with the historic site status of the town.]

"The age-restricted community, which would not allow children and thus would put less strain on the school budget, 'has the potential of halving property taxes,' now among the highest in the state, Allen said.

[Note: However, consider the voting record of age-restricted communities in New Jersey as reported in the Social Impact study requested by the Roosevelt Borough Planning Board in the late summer and fall of 1999. This reported can be downloaded by clicking here.]

"... In January [Tulloss] and other borough residents formed the Fund for Roosevelt Inc., which hopes to raise several million dollars to buy development rights, protect open space, and keep the public school open. ....

"'The state doesn't like small schools; they want to regionalize,' said school secretary Helen Barth, also a member of the Roosevelt Historic Commission. 'There's so much pressure on schools to consolidate. But we can offer so much.'

[Note: More recently, a state study has shown that the economic benefit that had been expected from regionalization has not been achieved in New Jersey. Our school is now getting at least some verbal support from the state Department of Education and state legislators.]

"She pointed to several plaques, including one honoring Ilene Levine, recipient of the National Science Foundation 1996 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

"'The school is the only thing that keeps this an open-space community,' Tulloss argued. 'If we don't have the school, Roosevelt is a bedroom community.'

"'Open space is valuable, but the cost of that open space has become onerous to many people in the community,' Allen countered. 'We have to strike a balance.'

"'This is still a pretty wonderful town,' Libsohn said. 'It's weathered a lot. But development is so dumb. It's supposed to solve problems. It never does.'"

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Editorial from the Examiner vol. 6, no. 49, 27 May 1999:

"Arts Festival Nurtures Cultural Pride that is Unique to Roosevelt

"With such a diverse offering of talent, nobody could have gone home disappointed after a visit to the Roosevelt Festival of the Arts last weekend.

"Between the art, the music, the poetry, and most of all the people --- residents, former residents and visitors --- the event will certainly be remembered by all who attended.

"Organizers must have known they couldn't go wrong, bringing out many of the attributes long associated with Roosevelt. The event embraced it all, including the friendliness and camaraderie, and of course the talented people who for one reason or another have been drawn to the community over the years.

"Dozens of volunteers, many of whom are artists themselves, banded together to make the event a success.

"Whether they presented a computer program of the borough's flora, donated food, coordinated certain aspects of the event or presented their art in the show, it is to their credit that the community was able to enjoy so many different things so close to home.

[Note: The computer flora was an early version of is now accessible on the web from the Fund's HOME page.]

"For many, it was an opportunity to see old friends; for others, the event was a chance to better grasp the special qualities of the small town. Either way, such a happening nurtures the pride that so many have taken in Roosevelt.

"This community truly has something special, and events such as the Festival of the Arts make it apparent that old and new residents have preserved the social and cultural traditions that were begun many years ago by the town's pioneers."

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An article by Brian Donahue in the Examiner vol. 6, no. 42, 8 April 1999, pp. 1, 4-5.

"Fund's Goal is to Preserve Roosevelt's Future

"For the first time in the 63-year history of their town, many Roosevelt residents feel their town is at risk, or that the factors that have long made the community different from its neighbors are now vulnerable due to impending residential development.

"The fact that developers have their eyes on Roosevelt has many residents thinking about preserving the space that is left to preserve. Moreover, some people are actively seeking ways to hold on to Roosevelt's resources, which they know will have to be secured sooner instead of later.

"As Rod Tulloss of Lake Drive put it, the preservation of the town and all the qualities that he and many others moved here to be a part of is 'a tall order.' But he and four other residents have stepped up to at least give it the old college try.

"In starting the Fund for Roosevelt, Inc., Tulloss and the other trustees --- Michael Ticktin, Kate John-Alder, Gail Hunton, and Lawrence [(sic) Larry] Cheshier --- hope to preserve the Jersey Homesteads National Historic Site --- the only historic district in New Jersey that comprises an entire municipality and one of only 15 such towns in the United States.

"The group's mission statement is threefold; preserve open space; preserve the Roosevelt Public School; and protect and restore the natural and man-made historic elements of the borough. Conservation, the trustees believe, requires the maintenance of all three of those aspects.

"While Tulloss will tell you that preservation of natural resources isn't just about birds and turtles, it is important to note that at least one wood turtle population --- a threatened species in New Jersey --- is in Roosevelt. In May and June, it has been found outside of the usual wetland areas and on high sections near Homestead Lane.

"Populations of the endangered bog turtle are believed to live around the borough's borders, as does the endangered Cooper's hawk, according to Tulloss.

"In fact, 10 of Monmouth County's 21 rare, threatened or endangered invertebrates have been reported in Roosevelt.

"Roosevelt's wetland forests and farmland have attracted the upland sandpiper, the vesper and grasshopper sparrows, the barred owl, the long-eared owl, the pie-billed grebe, the savannah sparrow and the red-headed woodpecker. Its streams have given way (sic) to freshwater mussels.

"Among the borough's other resources are a hardwoods wetland, which is a threatened ecosystem in the state, and the headwaters of both the Assunpink and Stony Brook Millstone watersheds.

"They help make up one aspect of Roosevelt --- the natural environment. Such farmlands and wet stream corridors were an integral part in the design of the community more than 60 years ago, according to the Fund for Roosevelt founders.

[Note: At the founding of the town, trees were in short supply because the area was mostly open farmland.]

"Equally as important to the members of the Fund for Roosevelt is historic preservation, which goes beyond art and architecture, and societal preservation.

"'These and other components are intimately linked parts of a whole that is greater than we understand. A whole that has educational, social, moral, aesthetic, and monetary value. The borough is, in all these senses, a treasure left in our keeping and for which weach generation in its turn is responsible,' Tulloss wrote in what he called, 'A Collection of Facts About Roosevelt's Natural Resources.'

"The Fund for Roosevelt is, in part, a potential land trust that can help to preserve such ecology. Open space, for Tulloss, is the first issue to deal with.

"Fund members have contacted all of the farmers on the borough's undeveloped northern 500 acres in hopes of discussing the state's Farmland Preservation Program with them. The program provides incentives to farmers to voluntarily restrict farms from non-agricultural development; to sell development rights to the county; or to donate development easements to the state or county.

"Farmland preservation is a combined effort by federal, state, county and municipal governments and occasionally by non-profit organizations.

"While Tulloss and the other trustees are hoping that farmers in the borough will become interested in the program, there are plenty of avenues for the Fund for Roosevelt to venture down in seeking to preserve open land, he said.

"One, for example, is to acquire land and resell it, while somehow incorporating conservation into the sale. Another option, perhaps the most desirable, is to purchase conservation easements, he explained.

"But the trustees will look at anything that works for the town.

"'There are many ideas. We're looking at all of the strategies at this point,' Tulloss said. 'We don't want to come out of this with somebody not getting a fair price for his farmland.'

"Fund members are working toward their goals with the help of a hired consultant, Dave Ennis and Associates [(sic) David J. Ennis Associates], Pittstown, a land conservation expert. Tulloss said the firm is known to conserve open space and protect the landowner's benefits. It uses such methods as conservation funding programs, tax reductions and innovative family land planning, he said.

"Tulloss said all of these ideas, designed to keep Roosevelt intact came to the forefront for him in 1998 when borough officials began examining two ordinances that would better enable limited development to occur in town.

"Ultimately, in December, the borough's zoning laws were changed by the Borough Council to allow an adult community of up to 350 homes to be built on the northern 500 acres and a 65-home development to be developed near Eleanor Lane and Valley Road.


"Tulloss and Ticktin lent a hand in the process of examining the impact of development. They served on a committe to study the social impact that age-restricted developments have had on other towns in New Jersey.

"A committee majority determined that if the voting age population of the town was doubled it would likely have 'serious adverse social effects' in a number of areas associated with public expenditures not benefiting the adult community.

"While borough officials ultimately did not take the group's recommendation that fewer age-restricted units be permitted, the study written by Tulloss, is now being used in other towns and by the New Jersey School Boards Association, he said.

"Due to what some people see as a worst-case scenario resulting from the construction of an adult community, such as the potential social impact and the loss of open space --- combined with the way public schools are funded in New Jersey --- the Fund for Roosevelt is also focusing its efforts on the 62-year-old Roosevelt Public School.

"Tulloss said he would like to explore the possibility of underwriting the operation of the school.

"'If it closes, we don't have a community,' he said.

"In addition to its educational and social qualities, the school is the largest and among the best-preserved of town's original buildings, he said. The school is home to the historic Roosevelt mural painted by Ben Shahn, with his wife, Bernarda.

"Tulloss said he expects his group to be recognized by the IRS as a nonprofit organization in the coming weeks due to the efforts of Roosevelt resident Judith Trachtenberg, who helped incorporate the group.

"Tulloss said fund-raising efforts will begin soon, but for now the Fund for Roosevelt exists with the help of a small grant and donations from its members.

"'We want to do this in a constructive way,' he said. 'This is not intended to rouse or upset. It is intended to do the right thing by the town, restrict the amount of development that has been accepted and make sure it fits the rules, even if that means a developer loses a house.'

"In the case of the northern 500 acres, which are split by Route 571, Tulloss said he would like the western half of the area to be preserved and to continue to be used as farmland.

"That idea, long discussed by borough officials, may now be a possibility, particularly since a large amount of state funding has been approved to help enable municipalities or organizations to acquire open space. Roosevelt, for the first time, may be in a position to obtain funds from the state and pitch in itself to preserve the land.

"Hunton, who is a member of the Roosevelt Planning Board, said thousands of local trusts like the Fund for Roosevelt are now operating throughout the country and are in a good position to raise funds and partner with their local governments to preserve open space.

"'For years we've talked about the borough not being in a position to acquire land due to our ratables base,' Hunton said. 'This is really a great step forward to have a nonprofit in this town to work with the Planning Board and the governing body to help preserve some of this land.'

"The Fund for Roosevelt can be reached at P. O. Box 404, Roosevelt 08555-0404 or by calling (609) 448-5096."

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Editorial from the Examiner vol. 6, no. 39, 18 March 1999:

"Roosevelt Viewsheds Must Remain Undisturbed Areas

"Developers interested in building an adult community in Roosevelt have floated what is being referred to as a trial balloon to see if borough officials will allow them to construct homes on land designated as open space.

"U. S. Homes Corp. of Freehold and Sydney Israel of Eatontown, developing partners who are expected to apply to the Planning Board for permission to build an age-restricted community of up to 350 units apparently have realized they cannot fit that many homes on areas designated as developable in the borough's second Planned Community Development Ordinance (PCD-II).

"With that in mind, they recently showed the board an informal proposal to build 290 homes which branch out twice from the clustered community being proposed near Oscar Drive and North Valley Road toward Route 571.

"The problem is that the fields which form an open viewshed along Route 571 have been earmarked in the PCD-II ordinance as 'undevelopable.'

"In fact, the idea behind the PCD-II adopted several years ago was to allow for some development in town while maintaining green belts in key locations such as the Route 571 corridor.

"For that matter, the original idea behind Roosevelt when it was being planned some 65 years ago was to create a village interspersed with green belts and surrounded by countryside.

"That plan has worked as it was designed to for the better part of a century.

"As Planning Board consultant Alan Mallach put it recently, development on the east side of Route 571 should sit far enough back in order to permit the maintenance of the viewshed --- any development on the west side of Route 571 is also designated to be placed as far west as possible so as to preserve at least some sense of the agricultural character of the northern area of town.

[Note: As of late October, 1999, the Fund has 134 of 238 available acres west of Route 571 under option, and other negotiations are continuing.]

"While the Examiner has supported the concept of an adult community as a project that could be a benefit to the community, there comes a time to say enough is enough.

"We fully support the open space concepts contained within the PCD-II and were pleased to see that several members of the Planning Board and Borough Council also want to stand firm on these principles.

"Over the past year, Roosevelt has been flexible enough with potential developers. This latest trial balloon about development in the protected viewshed areas is one that needs to be deflated."

[Note: As of late October, 1999, the "flexibility" continued with consideration of removal of hedgerows in the southeast corner of the town, creating a view of 65 homes from the cemetery (something considered unthinkable in the town's ordinances), positioning of an 150,000 gallon water tower in full view of the cemetery (indeed, in one proposal, practically on top of it), etc. To learn of the Planning Board's decision on October 28, 1999, a few minutes before midnight, click here.]]

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Most recently modified 21 December 2000.
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R. E. Tulloss.