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Phillipsburg Council: $1 Ingersoll-Rand property purchase a watershed moment in town’s history

By Kevin Lechiski, WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Dec 18 2012 11:11:40 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 19 2012 05:02:26 AM CST

Officials in Phillipsburg, New Jersey have completed a long-awaited land deal.

PHILLIPSBURG, N.J. -

It’s often been said a dollar doesn’t go very far anymore.

Don’t try telling that to the Phillipsburg mayor and council, who have just signed off on the purchase of most of the former Ingersoll-Rand property for $1, with a vision of creating a redevelopment project that will revitalize the town.

Town Council during its Tuesday meeting adopted a series of resolutions related to last Friday’s 208-acre purchase from Preferred Unlimited Inc. The company had bought the property nearly a decade ago for $16 million with its own plan to redevelop the site, which never came to fruition.

As part of the deal, Phillipsburg will forgo about $270,000 in property taxes owed by Preferred Unlimited.

Now that the town owns the property, Mayor Harry Wyant said it’s time to aggressively market the property.

“I think we need to market the property nationally to well-known developers,” he said. “We don’t have the expertise to do this as the redevelopment agency.”

Wyant said his vision for the property is for development that will create solid tax ratables and create a large number of well-paying jobs. While Wyant noted market studies need to be completed to determine the best fits for the property, he did say he would discourage large-box warehouse projects that cause limited job growth.

Before the site can be redeveloped, remaining environmental remediation work must be completed. The town has contracted with R.T. Environmental Services to complete the closure of an on-site landfill and foundry sand capping. Wyant said Preferred will be responsible for covering remaining environmental remediation expenses.

Councilman John Lynn praised the mayor and town attorney for being able to work out such a complicated deal. “This was not an easy task that involved countless hours,” said Lynn, who noted that the “opportunity to make a big impact on Phillipsburg is before us.”

Councilman Todd Tersigni said the property deal had been in the works for about a year. Like the mayor, his redevelopment vision for the site is one that brings in “businesses that will create good tax ratables, quality jobs and revitalize the town.”

As a result of the town taking ownership of the site, several other back taxes on the site dating back many years are being eliminated. Under a resolution approved during Monday’s meeting, council dismissed nearly $500,000 in past due property taxes, penalties and interest on 17 lots.

While the amount of money in the long-time back taxes sounds significant, Wyant noted the decision to dismiss them made sense since “the taxes obviously weren’t going to be paid anyway.”

In other business at Monday’s meeting, council approved an application to the state Department of Transportation seeking grant funding for sidewalk improvements to Sitgreaves Street between Jersey and McKeen streets.

At the beginning of the meeting, David Cupon was sworn in to service as a Phillipsburg police officer.