By JACQUELINE DURETT
SAYREVILLE — Concerns over The Pointe development and its impact on the borough’s schools were addressed in response to a resident’s query.
Resident Michelle Bardsley spoke at the May 26 Sayreville Economic and Redevelopment Agency (SERA) meeting. Bardsley, during the public comment session of the meeting, said she is concerned about Sayreville’s school-overcrowding situation and wanted to know the impact the mixed-use development would have on it.
Bardsley said information she had received from school district officials had led her to believe the borough was cutting the school district out of the payment structure from The Pointe developer, O’Neill Properties Group. She said her understanding was that the borough would receive $19 million in payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) funds from O’Neill, but that the payment would only go to the borough and the county.
SERA members told Bardsley that to the contrary, the $19 million she was referencing would actually go in full to the school district and that there are multiple PILOT programs tied to The Pointe.
In addition, officials explained that the $19 million would not be the only funds the school district would receive. They pointed out that residences in a PILOT program do not have the same tax formula as other residences. The tax on the structure, or improvements, goes to the PILOT program. However, the land is subject to the same tax formula as land not under a PILOT agreement. In Sayreville, that means 56 percent of each homeowner’s tax bill on the land portion would go to the school system.
While much of the financials around The Pointe’s PILOT program are still being finalized, SERA’s attorney, Michael Baker, said after the meeting that there are actually three separate PILOT programs tied to The Pointe. The first is what he called a “base PILOT” that is still in negotiations, but 95 percent of those funds would go to the borough, and 5 percent would go to the county. The second is an infrastructure-focused PILOT, he said that is tied to the amenities on The Pointe site. That also is in negotiations.
Finally, the $19 million, the only figure that has been concretely agreed upon, goes to the school district for the purpose of school construction. Baker said the school funding, “is a requirement of the redevelopment agreement.”
During the meeting, Bardsley said she was also concerned about how many children the development would add to the school system. According to officials, at least 300 school-age children are anticipated being added to the district. Bardsley said that many children would comprise an entire new elementary school on top of an existing overcrowding situation.
She said she did not want her school concerns to be misinterpreted as opposing the whole project.
“I’m not against what they’re doing. I think it’s, you know, going to be good for our town. Obviously, every town needs to grow. But my concern is our schools,” Bardsley said.
Councilwoman and SERA Board Member Victoria Kilpatrick said as a councilwoman, SERA member, parent and teacher, she has more vested interest in this project than most people. She said the overcrowding situation has been a long time coming and has been exacerbated by various decisions by the Board of Education.
“I think that over the years we’ve lost sight of the fact that we do work together. It’s not right, and the only ones that pay the price really are our kids and the taxpayers of this town.”