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The Inconvenient Truth

Discussion about the preservation of historic Shady Rest Golf Club building in Scotch Plains.

By Councilman Bo Vastine

Scotch Hills…The Shady Rest… is one of great assets of Scotch Plains, the game of golf, and the African American community’s athletic and social history in Scotch Plains.  It is a source of great pride and honor to have such a rich historical gem in our Township.

Much has been said over the past few years about what should happen to the building and how the Shady Rest should be protected, maintained and even enhanced to provide our community with many more years of service and history yet to be made.  In some instances, real differences of opinion have intersected and as a result the building has fallen into disrepair.  However, the responsibility of that occurring does not fall on one individual alone.  The decisions on what to do and when to do it have always been the subject of oversight.  Whether it is the Township Council…or the Recreation Commission…it was never the decision or final word from one person that got us to this point.  NO MATTER WHAT ANYONE SAYS OR BELIEVES.

Recently, the majority on the Council diverted money from a proposed spray park at Brookside to hire an architectural engineer to study the structure and develop a proposal on what should or can be done to preserve The Shady Rest. Some of that money was also to be used for emergency repairs as needed. We, as a governing body, committed ourselves to determining what we can do to ensure the long term viability of the building and, more importantly, the history there. We did not commit to slapping a band aid on the problem, which has been the case for many years. We did not commit to slapping a roof on the building and the official record confirms it -- despite what the emails and rumors might imagine.

Once the study comes back, we can determine what course of action should be taken. Until then, repairs have been made to fix the problems caused by the leaking roof.  Once all of the snow is melted, additional work will be done to fix immediate issues. All of the emails and rumors are nothing more than theatrical manipulation -- and they have nothing to do with the truth.

It is unfortunate that The Shady Rest has become a source of political manipulation.  I believe this blatant manipulation for political purposes harms the legacy of Shady Rest and its future in our community.  Forcing people to choose sides prevents us from working together to find the right solutions and is counterproductive to progress -- whether it be pictures that have been photo-shopped with bulldozers…the exaggeration of claims as to the extent of damage from these past few snow storms…or even the barrage of emails sent out to rally supporters -- as if some faction on council would be opposed to the idea of making improvements.  I regret that people have been manipulated into believing that we do not want to save this historic legacy.  It is simply not the TRUTH.

Here is THE TRUTH. Last year, the Democratic majority had the votes and the will to fire the Township Manager.  The Democratic majority had the votes and the will to fire every service provider to the Township and also had the votes and the will to cut the library budget.  The Democratic majority had the votes and the will to use the sewer fund balance to artificially lower the budget. The Democratic majority had the votes and the will to buy a radio station that does not cover the entire town.  The Democratic majority had the votes and the will to hire a $54K company to run the TV station when volunteers did it before for free.

The Democratic majority, led by Mayor Glover, had the votes and the will to do all of these things last year YET they did nothing for The Shady Rest.  They could have replaced the roof last year, YET they did not.  The Deputy Mayor last year was the liaison to the Recreation Commission.  She could have made The Shady Rest issue a priority, YET she did nothing, but instead voted for the spray park.  Lamont Davis was a member of the Recreation Commission, and he did nothing.  They had the votes -- and with the gimmick budget, they had the money -- but they DID NOTHING!

Holden MaGroin March 08, 2014 at 12:01 PM
I'm Holden MaGroin and I have some questions and comments for councilman Vastine........I worry when you sound so angry. Since you've voted yourself onto the taxpayer funded $25,000/year healthcare plan, I want to ensure we get our money's worth and don't want you to burst an aneurysm. Go easy on those capital letters, they can kill you.......so the Democrats did all these terrible things last year like reduce the tax hike, reduce the health care premiums, change over the well-entrenched service providers that may have just been "mailing it in", remove the extra tax on our business community that you call a SID "fee", found $1,000,000 of unencumbered funds in the library bank account so reduced the taxpayer's funding portion by $30,000 (freeing up the funds to buy your health coverage) and you complain that they did nothing and are politicizing the Shady Rest? ............my pal Herbie thinks that you should get a cat scan on your nether region because yours must have grown to a gigantic size, even for you.........I read that the town manager proposed a budget that did not add more money back to the library. I didn't read about you or councilman Jones, or even new planning board member Fortunato screaming about that. You all said that money needed to be increased and now the only sounds I hear are of you and Jones, and the new independent Marcus approving bringing back all the old service providers. I don't care much for politicians...especially the hypocritical ones.
Colleen Gialanella March 10, 2014 at 10:56 AM
Councilman Vastine... While I feel the public deserves much more than officials slugging it out on the Patch, I would like to remind you of the following. 1. Lying is bad. Moreover, from one Christian to another in Lent, I would remind you that it is a sin against our Lord. Stop doing it. 2. In an effort to bring productive growth to the Community, I befriended you, against the advice of nearly every person I spoke to. We have, in the last year, discussed ideas and worked together to hire a Township manager. Outside of the political arena we have a great deal in common and I have enjoyed spending time with your beautiful family. I truly believed this was a positive way to accomplish good things for Scotch Plains. I did so with the hope that the new Democratic majority could be a welcomed change on the Council and believed, based on the longevity you'd enjoyed on the Council, that you had something to offer. 3. I understand you are running for election, but a win at all cost stands to destroy the Township, diminish your personal reputation, and distract the Council from making real changes in the next few months. Ed Saridacki was a gentleman throughout our campaign. To this day, I speak highly to his ability to address issues. There is a reason that people in the Township have the respect for him that they do. If necessary, I'd be happy to provide you a copy of written exchanges on Shady Rest that date back to last Spring. Having only joined the council in January, I'm not clear as how much sooner I could have worked through the collection of all of the information I needed to help understand this issue. You probably should be aware that by the close of last summer, I had offered to draft the Grant on my own, but was reminded by a member of the Township's Administration that I could not do so under our form of Government. Perhaps the stress of the election has caused a lapse in memory. That's understandable. Yes, I was the ONE member of the Council who supported improvements to Brookside as well as to the Shady Rest. Knowing full well that there were grants available for both projects and there was no reason that both couldn't be accomplished, particularly with the concern that the stagnant water at Brookside has been a detriment to our community and that it is a potential hazard that sits in the Park where are children attend camp each year. The spray ground would have brought 110,000 in grant funds from County government back to Scotch Plains and would have worked to provide a continuous flow of water into the stagnant water at Brookside. If I recall correctly, you were against "begging the County for money." I tend to view this issue differently, and am committed to bringing every dollar sent from Scotch Plains to the County back home to our community. In the interim, I will conclude with the following: You really disappointed me this week. Lying is not good and people who do so knowingly are dangerous. I am not running against you. In fact, I'm not on the ticket at all. There is a strong desire in me to forgive you for the way you treated me this week, because I know the Township deserves a Council that can behave better and accomplish more than a group of unruly, spoiled children. Be the man you are capable of being. I will wait for your call.
Holden MaGroin March 10, 2014 at 11:56 PM
I'm Holden MaGroin and this is for councilwoman "G". Oh no you di'int! I applaud you for calling out councilman Bo as one who struggles with the truth. As someone who has also pointed out his Pinocchio ways, I will Nostradamus what his reaction will be. ..........History tells us that there are 3 reactions that can occur.........1st is that he will try to mock you as not worthy of a serious response. As a sitting councilwoman you probably won't receive that.........2nd is he and/or his surrogates will reply with attacks on your record, but mostly they will be personal in nature. The typical length of these attacks is about 7 paragraphs. They will come from either Bobo, R.F., R.D., T.R., A.M., P.C. or maybe even "gentleman cajone" E.S............The 3rd possibility is what councilman Pinocchio does when he doesn't want to answer a question. That is he pulls the groundhog routine and retreats into his hole for 8 weeks. He has done this when questioned on why he decided to take health benefits AFTER the election, after having previously making it a campaign issue. He also did this when asked the name of the insurance agent that he fought so hard to keep and just recently rehired........this behavior of hiding when challenged is why I refer to councilman Bo as a turtle head. My friend Hugh read this before I posted and said I should Google "turtle head urban dictionary" to see how right I am. I don't have time for that, but Herbie is on my couch laughing at his laptop.
Ed Minall March 12, 2014 at 02:54 PM
Try Seagull Manager Urban Dictionary.
Holden MaGroin March 12, 2014 at 09:50 PM
I'm Holden MaGroin and this is for Mr Minall. While it looks councilman Bo chose option 3 (the turtle head), your label of him as a seagull manager is also appropriate. Well done sir!!

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