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!