Dear Editor,

On March 19, 2014, the Middletown Township Planning Board will hold a third hearing concerning the application of Trinity Hall, LLC to subdivide a 67 acre tract of land on Chapel Hill Road and construct a high school campus on the lower 37 acres.

Not surprisingly there are two factions: the ones who think this is a bad idea, and the ones who think it is a good idea.

The folks who think this is a good idea have offered the following “facts” in support of that view (please note that the quotes below are just for emphasis). Those of us who think this is a bad idea are going to offer what we know as the actualities in response to those facts.

CLAIM: “If we don’t build a school there, 300 townhouses, some designated for low-income housing, will be built instead.”

TRUTH: In a word, no. Phone calls to the Planning Board to inquire as to the legitimacy of this statement were met with incredulity. One member told us that it was as likely the tract would be made “into a second Disneyland.”

CLAIM: “The plan was for a rock quarry first, before we came in and rescued the land by building our school.”

TRUTH: Of course, we diligently researched the issue and no, you cannot mine in a residential neighborhood. This might stem from the fact that the owner of the property owns a mine in North Jersey that mines for bedrock. Which is not currently plentiful on this land.

CLAIM: “Our school is offering an education in the Catholic tradition.”

TRUTH: Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., of the Trenton Archdiocese, refuses to support Trinity Hall, which means it can not claim to be a Catholic school, as can Mater Dei and Red Bank Catholic. He writes, “The school’s founders are using the expression, ‘in the Catholic tradition’ to describe Trinity Hall. That is not the same thing as being a ‘Catholic School’ and I simply want to make clear that this new institution is not affiliated with the Diocese of Trenton or our Office of Catholic Education.”

Yes, you heard right. This is not a Catholic school. It is also not an accredited school. It also has NO TRACK RECORD. What does this mean for the girls who attend the school? Their chances of graduating and being accepted to an upper echelon school is an unknown commodity.

CLAIM: “Trinity Hall will preserve most of the open space and will also not develop approximately 30 acres leaving it undisturbed.”

TRUTH: Trinity supporters are claiming that the Applicant will preserve the large tract of land fronting Kings Highway. They circulated this claim wide and far. However, when residents asked them directly, at the first planning hearing, what they planned to do with this tract of land, THEY REFUSED TO ANSWER. And how long before the farm next to this one, currently owned by a family member of this tract of land, sells to the school? How much of Middletown’s open space can be dedicated to this monstrosity? Once it gets a foot hold, there will be no stopping the rich backers of this thing to grow it beyond all scope and reason.

CLAIM: “75% of our student base will be bused in.”

TRUTH: This claim is extremely hard to believe. Half of Trinity’s projected 500 students will be of driving age. These are affluent students, whose parents will be paying more than $16,000 in tuition. You better believe they will have cars. Moreover, every student who can not be bused in must receive a stipend from the Township to the tune of $884.00 tax dollars a student. And that is this year’s going rate. By the time the school is built you can bet that will go up. Do the math. 75% of 500 times $884 bucks….yeah, blows my mind too.

CLAIM:“We plan to build an access road from Stavola Road to the back edge of the school. This road will be a limited-use road, and will only be used by emergency vehicles. “

TRUTH: This access road will be squeezed in between two existing homes on Stavola Road. The construction of it alone with turn this once-quiet neighborhood into a construction vehicle circus. And will it truly be used for only “emergency vehicles” ? Or could it eventually become a cut-through for parents and students? Or, worst-case, for all the delivery trucks that might easily exceed the ton limit on Chapel Hill Road and need an alternative route to access the school? Do we really want to find out?

CLAIM: “At the spot where we want to put the entrance to our school, Chapel Hill Road is only 19 feet wide.”

TRUTH: Yes, that is true. And why? Because no one ever intended a school to be built there. The road is narrow, winding, and the scene of 15 accidents in just 2012 alone.

And please, don’t go on about how our group wants to deny girls an education. I have been a strong advocate for women's rights, from the 70s til now. 'Way back when, I opposed CBA as an elitist finishing school for boys. My take on it then, and now, is LET GIRLS IN!! Instead of creating another secular community, how about opening the existing doors and letting girls into CBA? This is the new millennium, isn’t it time we took a stand? Why not focus on suing CBA as sexist and graduating the first girl from that school?

One only has to do a web search to know that there are all-girls' schools in NJ already.. If this were a town, or a culture, where girls were denied a good education, then I could see a need, but we are by far one of the most affluent of towns, with a better quality education system, and a higher calibre of teacher than most of the surrounding townships. We are sorely lacking in nothing here, except the precious open spaces that made us the beautiful place that we've all loved.

Signed,

 

Margie Rafferty

A member of the Chapel Hill Neighborhood Group