Mayor sells Masker Marsh for $1

| 30 Sep 2011 | 09:42

    Once considered for conservation, now owned by bank, By Jan Baker A little more than a year ago, Dennis Miranda, then president of Vernon’s Environmental Commission, recommended the township council purchase the 19.5-acre property known as Masker Marsh to preserve as open space and for a hiking and biking path. The price? $220,000. Problems arose when it was revealed that Mayor Sally Rinker held title to that property. It was also made known that Rinker had previously granted the township an easement on the property for construction of the bike path. That has never been built. Rinker purchased the property in 2004 for $200,000. But the proposal was not acted upon. Then, at the April 11 council meeting, Rinker requested a proclamation that the easement she gave the township for the bike path on that property be named in memory of her late daughter, Courtney Ellen Geiger. She also announced that the property was in the process of being sold to a “conservation entity.” That “entity” turned out to be the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. Negotiations had been going on for approximately a year, however no sale had been finalized. According to Larry Ragonese, a DEP spokesman, the property was being considered for its Green Acres program. The DEP purchases “open space” properties for use as parks and to keep land as forests. On April 15, four days after her announcement at the council meeting, Rinker signed a deed for the sum of “$1, in lieu of foreclosure” to Classiclake Enterprises, LLC. Classiclake accepted the deed as full payment of a first mortgage on the property held by Sussex Bank. According to papers filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Classiclake Enterprises is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sussex Bancorp, whose principal executive offices are at 200 Munsonhurst Rd., Franklin. The deed was recorded on April 26 in the Sussex County Clerk’s office. It is not known whether the DEP will still pursue purchase of the property with the new owner.