The Republican-dominated Hamilton Township Council wants a question on November’s ballot, asking the people directly what Hamilton ought to do with Klockner Woods.
A few years ago, Mayor Glen Gilmore and the then-Democratic Township Council purchased the 53-acre tract for $4.1 million. Gilmore subsequently lost control of the council in part when the Republicans spun the mayor’s open space purchase come election time as a frivolous cash-for-swamp deal.
The mayor earlier this year felt vindicated when Superior Court Judge Linda Feinberg ruled that a developer could conceivably construct 41 single-family homes on the site the mayor’s opponents had said was unsalvageably environmentally constrained.
But questions about the tract still linger, Republicans say; and Feinberg’s ruling notwithstanding they want a directive from the voters on the same ballot that will feature a matchup between Gilmore and his Republican opponent John Bencivengo.
Gilmore’s betting on his record of open space acquisition and the validation of Feinberg, while the GOP wants to assert a contentious issue, which they believe beat the mayor once before when Klockner was the thorniest of topics during the last election.