Plan to redevelop Newark's United Hospital costs taxpayers millions

NEWARK - A plan to redevelop the old United Hospital in Newark has cost taxpayers in Essex County millions of dollars, with nothing to show for it, a Kane In Your Corner investigation finds.

Taxpayers spent $6.5 million to buy 40 percent of the old hospital back in 1999. A local doctor owns the rest. But the county never did anything with its portion of the property, and now it's fallen into such disrepair, county officials want to spend millions more to condemn the site and knock all of the buildings down. The county then wants to build a new technical school there.

Dr. Clyde Pemberton, who runs a psychiatric practice and day care on his portion of the site, argues his property shouldn't be taken away from him simply because the county let its portion get run down. His attorney, Daniel Silberstein, says the county's portion of the property suffered major flood damage because of busted pipes, and the county has failed to maintain the exterior of the buildings, as required by the purchase agreement.

"You can't have a responsible party fail to maintain it for 10 years, and actually allow it to be destroyed?and then say well, the property's no good anymore so let's knock it down," Silberstein says. "Somebody's got to answer for the condition of this property."

Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo declined a request for an interview, because the case is currently in litigation. But in a written statement, he tells Kane In Your Corner, the county's plan "would provide our students with the educational setting and atmosphere they deserve to prepare for their futures. Unfortunately, the extended legal battle in which we are engaged with the co-owners of the property is preventing us from moving forward."

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