Sentiment Ruled in Rejecting Bid, Pastor Declares

Camden Courier-Post – June 11, 1932

Offer of $5,300,000 for Catholic Church Property Disclosed in Court.

Appeals on Assessments in Broadway Extension Open in Court Here

Levies Called Unfair

An offer of $5,300,000 for purchase of the Church of the Immaculate Conception property, bounded by Market, Broadway, Federal and Seventh streets, was disclosed yesterday in Circuit Court here.

It was rejected for “sentimental reasons,” according to Rt. Rev. Monsignor W. J. FitzGerald, pastor of the church, who testified before Judge Henry H. Eldredge, at the first day session of hearings on appeals from property assessments.

The appeals of a number of property owners are from assessments levied to pay for extending Broadway, which previously ended at Market street, to its present terminus at the bridge plaza. Appellants contend the assessments have not been “just and fair.”

Monsignor FitzGerald testified the church and its property had not benefited by the improvement. Increased traffic, he said, resulted in a greater hazard to children who attend Camden Catholic High and St. Mary’s parochial schools, which are units of the church property. The assessment against the church is $8,640.50 for the improvement. The church is exempt from general taxation.

Mitten Made Offer, Report

Rejection of the offer to purchase the church property was disclosed by Monsignor FitzGerald during cross-examination by Lewis Liberman, assistant city solicitor. Source of the offer was not brought out. It was reported several years ago that Mitten Management, of Philadelphia, made such an offer with a view of erecting a bus terminal on the site.

Edward J. Borden, former president of the Camden County Real Estate Board, also testified the Broadway extension did not increase value of the church property. Asked by Liberman whether he was thus speaking as a real estate expert or a churchman, Borden replied “fifty-fifty.”

Those appealing assessments hold their properties received no particular benefit from the improvement and charge that property abutting the extended street was not assessed sufficiently. They also say holdings beyond the area received benefits and should be assessed accordingly.

Assessments Fair, City Holds

The argument of the city is that the assessments were just and fair and that these particular properties did receive benefits and considerable increase in value by reason of the improvement and that, therefore, they should be called upon to pay the assessment.

In the Summer of 1925, Broadway was cut through from Market street to the Bridge plaza at Penn street.

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