Lincroft Residents Against Proposed Sports Complex During Township Workshop Meeting

I am sorry at times that I have a real job and family obligations because whenever something interesting happens at township committee meetings it seems that I am not available to be there, so it’s a good thing that others are there to let me know what happens. This past Monday night, February 1st, is a classic example of what I mean.

About 20 people from the Lincroft area attended the Townships Workshop meeting and spoke against the planned “Sports Complex” that the township will be building on the grounds of West Front Street Park. Most of those in attendance were from the area around the West Front Street Park and were very angry to learn that the township is going to put an artificial turf field at the park.

The artificial field will have lights,concessions stands and bleachers build around it. The other field at the park to my knowledge will be upgraded and maintained as a general practice field.

Some of the residents did not find out about this until surveyors came onto their property to tag trees for the construction and told the homeowner that construction will begin in April. While I don’t doubt this, I do find it a little hard to believe. After all the decision was made by the Township back in late September and announced in a press release on the Township’s website in October.

The mayor as usual placed the blame on others, in this case, the Middletown Board of Education for not cooperating with the township to put the fields on BOE property and as usual Scharfenberger grossly exaggerated the boards position and attempted to portray the BOE as the evil bad guys.

The BOE attempted to work out a solution with the township back in June but was unable to because the township would not provide details on such things as to who would have priority use of the fields, the students and the BOE or various sports leagues around town, who would be responsible for upkeep and maintenance on the fields, who would be liable in case of injury and who would be responsible for the utility bills.

And when the BOE recommended the use of Nut Swamp School as a potential sight the township balked at the idea as not practical due to conditions of the area.

The group of angry Lincroft residents that attended the workshop meeting passed out a letter to all of those in attendance, that explained their position and frustration with this proposed “Sports Complex”. I received a copy of this letter and have posted it below:

There is a situation that is going on in our town with regard to youth sports that many of you may not be aware of, but we all need to know about. First some background. The River Plaza Chargers Pop Warner football team currently plays at Nut Swamp Park, also referred to as Charger Field, off of Nut Swamp Road. The field is basically a large square with a baseball diamond in each corner and the football field running down the middle. The field is overused and in serious disrepair. There is a shortage of sports fields in Middletown. The town wants to add an additional artificial turf football field but can’t put the turf down on the current Nut Swamp/Charger field. That’s because the outfield of the baseball fields intersects with the football field. Plus they would have to displace the baseball teams while they are doing the work. What they feel they need is a multiuse field that would suffice for football, soccer, field hockey and lacrosse. We actually don’t even have a lacrosse team because there’s nowhere for them to play. In addition to the artificial turf, the field would have lighting, a PA system, bleachers, scoreboard and concession stand. The problem is that although Middletown is very large, they cannot locate this field anywhere they want in Middletown. Pop Warner rules state that the field has to be in a very specific geographic area within Middletown, which is basically River Plaza, Lincroft and Nut Swamp areas.

The Township Committee’s first choice for location of this field is at Thompson Middle School. There is already a field there as well as plenty of parking. The town wants to use bond ordinance money, which has specifically been appropriated for use by Parks and Recreation, to fix up the existing Thompson field. This would be a win/win situation for the taxpayers, parents and students of this town. The kids who play Pop Warner football and cheer would get a beautiful new field and the students at Thompson would benefit from this field since they would have use of it as well and a sense of pride at having such a nice new field at their school.

Another way to rectify the current situation is to have the Pop Warner Football games played at Middletown South High School. Holmdel, Colts Neck and Rumson as well as countless other towns allow Pop Warner to play on their high school field. This is not the case in Middletown. For some unknown reason the school board will not allow the field to be shared. This is a field that is paid for with OUR taxpayer money! The field does not belong to the school, the football coach or to the football players…it belongs to ALL of us! Is it fair that we all pay for it, but the majority of us will never have kids on the South football team? The school board gets $.68 of every dollar of our tax money! Why not use our tax money more efficiently by letting the children of this town who play Pop Warner football use it too? There would still be a need for somewhere for those kids to practice, but the games are what attract hundreds of people. Games of that magnitude and that go on all day on Sundays should be held at a school, not in a residential area. The players and cheerleaders could still practice at Charger field or Thompson, but at least residents would not have to worry about hundreds of people, both from Middletown and the opposing team’s town, looking to park in front of their homes.

So what’s the problem then? Why not just fix up Thompson’s field? That’s a question we would like to have answered. It seems that the Board of Ed and the Township Committee won’t play nice and come to terms. Right now they’re pointing the finger at each other. The Township Committee claims that the Board of Ed wouldn’t even talk to them except through letters from their lawyer. The BOE did offer the town the property at Nut Swamp School but the Township Engineer claims it wouldn’t work due to the grading and it would be too cost prohibitive to fix.

So that leaves us where we are now. Since the township could not come to terms with the Board of Ed they are planning on going with another site for the new Pop Warner field. It is neither their first choice, nor even their second choice, but they felt they had no other option. The field is West Front Street Park on the corner of West Front and Crawford Corner-Everett Road. This location is completely inappropriate! First of all there are homes bordering the field, two of which have backyards with full views of the field, no trees to block it. They are planning on putting up an unsightly chain link fence that the residents of these homes would have to look at everyday, in addition to 70 foot tall lights and PA system. This field is directly across the street from Holmdel residents whose quality of life will be affected but whose children will not benefit from the field. Even after the current parking lot is enlarged there will still not be enough parking for all the cars that will be coming and going on Sundays during football season. And that’s just football…the field will also be hosting soccer, lacrosse and field hockey so it will be used all year long. Cars will be parking up and down West Front Street and even in the Holmdel development. The field is right across the street from a church. Imagine sitting at your house of worship with the windows open (the church is not air conditioned) and having to hear not only the noise of traffic and people cheering, but the sound of the PA system! It borders on sacrilege! Plus, people will undoubtedly try to park in the church’s parking lot. There are no sidewalks on West Front or Everett Road and it will be hazardous for children being dropped off and picked up. A traffic light at the corner will be inevitable, changing the landscape of this quaint area of our town.

The biggest shame of this whole thing is that the residents of Lincroft who live within only a couple of hundred feet of this field were never notified. They had to find out about this through word of mouth. One home that will be greatly affected by this is owned by a 9/11 widow with three children who feels completely betrayed by our Mayor and Township Committee. One family found out two weeks ago when men were walking in the woods bordering her backyard, marking trees to be cut down. Our Township Committee solicited bids on this project in October and plan on starting in April. They have done this ever so quietly. They did not intend on holding a public meeting regarding this project. By the way, this is the same project that spurred protests a few years ago in Lincroft…remember the “NO SPORTS COMPLEX” signs that were all over Middletown-Lincroft Road? This is the same project, still being dumped on the residents of Lincroft.

On February 1st many angry Lincroft residents attended the Township Committee’s Workshop meeting. There were so many people in fact that they moved the meeting to the courtroom where it was nearly full. We made it known loud and clear that we do not want this Pop Warner venue in our backyards. There was even a representative from Holmdel who brought a petition from their residents against the field. The committee undoubtedly got the message but we really don’t know at this point if they will put the project on hold, do some more research, or even give us our public meeting. They urged us to go to the Board of Ed meeting and tell the members how we feel and demand to know why there couldn’t be an agreement made as to the upgrade of the Thompson field. We also need to demand an answer as to why the Pop Warner games can’t be played at South.

The next Board of Ed Workshop meeting is on Wednesday, February 17 and a full meeting is the next week on the 24th. I urge everyone who feels outraged by this to attend these meetings. We have elected the men and women on the Board of Ed and the next election is coming up on April 20th. If they can’t step up and do what’s best for ALL the taxpayers and kids in Middletown then we should not vote them back into office! If you would like to join us in our fight please email
LASC2010@gmail.com (Lincroft Against Sports Complex) and we’ll add you to our distribution list. Even if this issue does not affect you directly we urge you to help us fight this because you never know when the township’s next project will be in YOUR backyard

Is it to late to stop this new Sports Complex? Who will be the bad guys if it is, the Township Committee or The Board of Ed? Stay tuned, this should be interesting to watch unfold.

3 Comments

Filed under artificial turf fields, Lincroft, Midddletown Board of Education, Middletown Township, New Jersey, Nut Swamp School, sports complex

3 responses to “Lincroft Residents Against Proposed Sports Complex During Township Workshop Meeting

  1. Anonymous

    Nut Swamp would be a GREAT site. The area of the field right next to Normany Park is not used now. (1) The field is big enough that it could house a turf field and keep their existing grass fields.(2) Where they could put it is right next to Normandy … and build a staircase or access to the Normandy parking lot.(3) It is far enough away from the school to not disturb them during school hours

  2. Anonymous

    The mayor and the republican majoroty are hiding much of the truth from the residents. Nothing new from this deceitful bunch. The BOE has an obligation to protect the taxpayers and the properties owned by the school board from the politics of the township committee …and make no mistake about it….POLITICS is playing a major part in this scene. It did on Midd- Lincroft Road and it's more of the same again.Backroom deals and sneaky politicans doing exactly as they please until the public finally protests this crap when they are lucky enough to learn of it.The people in Middletown should pack that courtroom at the regular monthly meeting.All the people of Middletown from all the villages that comprise this township should voice protests against a project for which the expense is not appropriate for the times,not appropriate for the location and is against the will of most of the people in this township.Send the mayor and his comrades a message that can't be misunderstood.What is so difficult to understand about the simole word NO ??

  3. Anonymous

    My husband & I were at monday night's meeting and I can assure you the mayor of Middletown has a talent for distorting the truth. This is not the first time either, I don't believe he is capable of the truth or fair play. Playing the BOE as the bad guy in this is a play for drama to try and cram this down the throats of the BOE.These creeps in the administration fool no one and the scene of the BOE as bad guy is unfair and untrue. Talk to Laura Akin,president of the BOE.This proposal is for a location on two county roads and I don't believe anything like this project can progress without a great deal of input from the County. I live in the area and from knowing how things work around here, that would be what I believe may save this area on Everett & West Front Street from this expansion. It will require traffic studies etc,probably by the County and the many public safety issues will play into any decision. Scarfy&Co. are not without fault by any means.they never are as they try to pull off their crap in the back rooms at town hall.The residents should pack the courtroom at the regular meeting in February and sent a message these uncouth politicians can't misunderstand once and for all.

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