The real black eye in Vernon

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Now abandoned and in a state of ruin, Camp Sussex was once a thriving, privately owned camp for NYC youth. Situated in the Glenwood section of Vernon, many Vernon residents have never seen Camp Sussex or weren't even aware of its existence, until recent publicity regarding Vernon's acquisition of the camp with the use of Open Space funds held in trust by the township. Vernon's Environmental Committee and some town officials, including Mayor Victor Marotta, have cited the eradication of drug use and illegal activity on the property as one of the main reasons for the town's desire to acquire it. A poster depicting a skull and crossbones regarding Camp Sussex, states "The Black Eye" on Vernon's Profile, and hangs in the lobby of our municipal building.

Situated around the corner from our municipal building is Route 515, Vernon's heavily-trafficked main thoroughfare. Across from the A&P on Route 515 sits the township's Faline building with its broken windows and other disrepair. The road itself also is in a bad state of neglect, with weed infested dividers and absent trees run down by motorists more than a year ago, bricks missing from crosswalks to no existing sidewalks and surfaces badly marred by weather and traffic. While Vernon officials claim that Sussex County is responsible for the divider's upkeep, a recent phone call to Sussex County was answered with a statement that the county is not responsible for the divider's repair or maintenance. So who is responsible? Neither Vernon nor its Chamber of Commerce even acknowledge that our main shopping district is an unsightly mess or have taken any steps for its remediation. Council President Brian Lynch says the purchase and cleanup of Camp Sussex will bring new business to Vernon. Really? It's the opinion of many residents that the appearance of Vernon's so-called "Town Center" is Vernon's real "Black Eye."

Bonnie Rubin
Highland Lakes

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