Morris Plains wants Greystone as open space.
Parsippany wants the historic buildings saved.
State lawmakers want…both?
According to Parsippany councilman Michael diPierro, there might be room in the Pennachio-Bucco bill for just such an arrangement.
"I did get a chance to speak with Senator Bucco over the holidays and explained to him why we passed our resolution and why we are concerned that if there is no option for any commercial enterprise to be present, then no commercial body will be interested in investing if there is nothing in it for them," diPierro said. "No one is going to do this out of the goodness of their heart.”
According to diPierro, Bucco said he understood there has to be some commercial advantage for developers and that he was “optimistic that he will be able to obtain state money to preserve the main building.
diPierro said that the money would preserve only the main building and “not the wings that have no roofs anymore.”
Adam McGovern, trustee of the all-volunteer group Preserve Greystone, said that there needs to be a more meaningful and complete dialogue about the buildings.
"Yes, the roof (of the wings) are in disrepair, but I've had a number of engineers from all ends of the spectrum tell me that that building can withstand an A-bomb," McGovern said. "I think there are some missing steps there in terms of the state coming back to the people who have proposed ideas for the whole building."
McGovern added that federal money could be more of a possibility if the state looks into preserving the entire building instead of just the main structure.
diPierro said that if the state is going to spend $10 million to tear the structure down, the money should be shunted to a developer would want to reconstruct it.
That decision would have to be worked out with the freeholders.
Against reconstructing the site is the governing body of Morris Plains. Long-time Morris Plains Mayor Frank Druetzler didn’t mince words during his reorganization meeting earlier this month when approaching the disposition of Greystone, and his borough's position is the polar opposite of the governing body in neighboring Parisppany.
“We felt that the 180 acres of surplus property, much of which contains deteriorating buildings, should go to the county for open space,” Druetzler said. “Now we hear rumblings from developers. We strongly oppose development and support open space.”
Last month, the Parsippany Council passed unanimously 5-0 a resolution that goes against the senators’ bill.
Not to be outdone, Morris Plains passed its own resolution on Dec. 30 in support of the senators bill.
Greystone has been a hot bed of controversy since a decision to demolish the remaining buildings came with a $50 million price tag. The decision came after Gov. Chris Christie announced plans in late 2011 to remediate and convert Greystone Park in Parsippany—about 165 acres. The park includes a sewage treatment plant, wetlands and the original psychiatric hospital, which closed in 2008.
Up until this point, the state's plan was to demolish the rest of the buildings, despite having received six formal expressions of interest from private groups, which are looking to redevelop the decaying Kirkbride Building