Former Maplewood Mayor Fred Profeta has resigned from the board of the Maplewood Village Alliance, and has joined the board of Village Keepers Inc. along with a number of new board members for the nascent nonprofit.
In a letter dated June 24 and addressed to MVA Chair John James, Profeta wrote, “It pains me to do this, but the time has come for me to resign from the Maplewood Village Alliance Board.” Profeta, who was the founder of the Alliance and first President of its Board, cited his divergent view from the “majority” of the Board on “major issues” and subsequent “involvement with litigation against the Alliance” as the reasons for his resignation.
The MVA is the nonprofit entity that manages the Maplewood Village special improvement district.
Profeta has been a vocal opponent of the current proposed development of the Post Office site in Maplewood Village, acting as an adviser to the newly formed nonprofit Village Keepers Inc. which is now suing the Township of Maplewood, the proposed developer, and the Maplewood Village Alliance over alleged procedural errors in approving the recommendations of the Post Office Design Review Subcommittee. Profeta also served as a co-chair of Township Committee candidate Greg Lembrich‘s primary campaign, which has cited opposition to the proposed development as a main part of its platform.
In proffering his resignation, Profeta praised James, calling his leadership of the Alliance “nothing short of spectacular.” Profeta also expressed “fondness for the history of this very effective group and for all of its accomplishments.”
When asked to comment on the resignation, James said that he could not comment due to the ongoing litigation.
Read Profeta’s entire letter of resignation below.
In a separate communication, Village Keepers’ Director Dirk Olin announced that Profeta has now joined the Board of Trustees for the Village Keepers.
Profeta joins original Village Keepers’ board members Olin, Dave Helmkamp and Al Kuehn. Other recent additions to the board include Beth Janson, Bryan Magnus, Owen Moore, Frank McGehee and Steve Weber. Brief biographies of each board member are available in the communication from Olin, attached below.
Olin explained that in expanding the board, Village Keepers was hoping to avoid the involvement of a judge in resolving the suit it has brought against the town, the MVA and the developer of the Post Office site. “To improve the chances for a pro-social outcome, the Village Keepers have launched a website (www.villagekeeper.org) and vastly expanded our Board of Trustees to include a breadth of voice and a depth of domain expertise that we fervently hope will lead to a more progressive path of development,” wrote Olin.
Olin said that Village Keepers hoped to avoid extensive legal costs for all parties due to the fact that “we are a community-funded David facing two Goliaths—the Township Committee and its handpicked, deep-pocketed developer.”
Olin offered an argument disagreeing with the Planning Board’s decision early in June to decline jurisdiction for ruling on an appeal filed by Village Keepers — similar to the suit it later brought against the town, the MVA and the developer JMF Properties. Olin also outlined Village Keepers’ other objections to the proposed development including the scale of the proposed building, the lack of a study considering adaptive re-use, the award of a tax incentive to the developer, and the need for “greater transparency” in the public process.
Ultimately, wrote Olin, “The Village Keepers filed a legal complaint with the greatest sadness but felt it necessary to protect the citizenry’s rights. Still, we continue to hope that an agreement can be struck—soon—to revisit the misbegotten proposal. That would lead to a proposal of greater community purpose, higher financial value, and more responsible environmental stewardship.”
Read Olin’s full communication below.