The toughest decision of my life


Note added 2/29/2016 (after the offer): The decision actually turned out to be an easy one. The net amounts realizable through purchase offers presented by the New Jersey Blue Acres program were so low as to even merit serious consideration. The only part of the information under restricted use agreement are the appraisals. I will continue to seek to donate the properties to the state or another non-profit entity under a lease-back arrangement.

Tomorrow I may be presented with the toughest decision of my life. I might not be able to talk or write about it during the consideration period so I’ll write about it now.

A representative from the New Jersey Blue Acres Program will visit Money Island to present purchase offers for my house and office/workshop property in our rural part of New Jersey along the Delaware Bay. I don’t know what the offers will be but I realize that I may be asked to stop talking (and writing) about it during the consideration period.

The state is the only buyer of properties in this flood-prone region.  They are offering more than current market value. Most of my neighbors have already accepted the buyout offer. Homes are not worth much around here. Most of the offers I’ve heard have been less than $200,000. That’s not much for the waterfront home of your dreams. On the other hand, property values have been falling for 10 years in a row. We still haven’t settled out Sandy insurance claim started more than three years ago.

The state only make offers on select properties, in this case not all of our adjoining business properties. That’s what makes it such a difficult decision. It seems that the state is interested in buying properties with septic systems. Most of our properties are not included in the buyout but I don’t see how it would be possible to continue running our businesses without a home on the island. I could use the money from a property sale to cover post-Sandy debts but I don’t know how I would manage without the aquaculture business that has been such a big part of my life.

Selling in this case means selling out my dreams, my lifestyle, the home that I have come to love for more than two decades. Most important, selling means a loss of income and jobs for the dedicated crew that have come to rely on my often shaky leadership here. Two of them have never worked anywhere else and one has barely left the place in more than 10 years. I wonder what will happen to them if I sell and move away. Maybe they will suffer or maybe I overestimate the value of my influence. I simply so not know.

Then finally there are selfish concerns and fears. I can’t buy a home anywhere else in this price range that would even come close to offering what we have here. I am concerned about where I might live. But again, perhaps I would be pleasantly surprised if I can overcome the resistance to change. I only know that this is an important decision point in my life.


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