I have written before about the plans afoot to "develop" the part of the property still owned by the state of New Jersey. You can tell which part that is. It is the part where Kirkbride, several "cottages" and other buildings associated with the old hospital are still standing and decaying while the part now owned by Morris County is open fields with paths and rinks and picnic tables.
As expected, it won't be cheap tearing down stone buildings meant to last the test of time. Kirkbride was the marvel of its day when it was built in 1876, and Greystone Park was supposed to be a new type of institution. Unfortunately, that changed, and during the Christie Whitman administration there were enough bad news reports involving Greystone for her to order it closed and a new, smaller, more modern hospital built.
It is the rest of the state-own land that another Christie - Gov. Chris Christie - wants redeveloped.
A lot of that will be park land, which is good. But it will cost nearly $60 million to tear down the remaining buildings, according to the Daily Record.
Some of the six plans under review look interesting. According to the Daily Record, there's the group that wants to build a "business center that includes a working farm, renewable energy, tourism, recreation and education programs including a culinary school, a restaurant, a museum and community outreach programs."
There's another that wants to put up “a comprehensive historic-paranormal tour program” as part of a "complex that would include a hotel, condominiums, restaurants, shops and civic organizations."
And then there's the group that wants to put up a “21st century regenerative village” with "housing along with businesses, hospitality, educational facilities, agriculture and a museum." It would need a zoning change from Parsippany, where Greystone is located, because "200-300 housing units [are] required" to make the project "economically viable.”
Aye, there's the rub. All three plans show the only way anyone is going to come out ahead in this deal is to put in housing and increase the population and traffic of the area, adding more costs to the Parsippany budget, if not Morris County as a whole.
By a strange coincidence, the day I read about the probable destruction of the Kirkbride building there was another Patch article about the demolition of the Pfizer buildings on Route 53 in Morris Plains.
The "developer" of the property wants to put "hundreds of apartments, condominiums and townhouses plus approximately 100,000 square feet of retail space" on the site of the old buildings.
The work has been slowed by asbestos, the article says, which will also be a factor in the demolition of Kirkbride and the other Greystone buildings.
However, to quote the article:
"The exact number of housing units to be built on the 63-acre site is the subject of litigation. M&M, a venture of Edgewood Properties and JMP Holdings, is suing Morris Plains to be able to build 800 housing units, with 295 units for low- or moderate-income residents, which it says will help the borough comply with the Fair Housing Act. The borough said plans originally called for 500 housing units.
"Back in February, Morris Plains rejected a request from M&M to declare the work a 'redevelopment project' and give the developer 20 years of tax relief equal to the school portion of the tax bill." (emphasis mine)
If it takes place, the plan "holds the potential to increase the borough's population by 25 percent." That could be a lot of kids to squeeze into Mountain Way school.
The Kirkbride building in Parsippany is not that far from the Pfizer buildings in Morris Plains, as the turkey vulture flies. That's a lot of people crowding the streets of my little town.
I grew up in New York City and, like a lot of city dwellers, I wanted a house, a bit of land and the peace of a small town. So I moved to Morris Plains.
But as the years have gone on, the traffic has worsened, woodlots have been felled for housing and the big companies that helped pay the bills moved out, prompting the need for such "development" as that on Route 53.
Looks like all the things I left the city to avoid have caught up with me.