The issue of the proposed Lincroft Sports Complex has become a ticking time bomb that is getting closer to detonation and based on the outcome of this past Monday nights’ Workshop meeting in Middletown, the Township committee did nothing to defuse the situation in he minds of many who attended.
I arrived late to the meeting Monday night because I attended the wake of a dear family friend.
When I walked through the doors of Town Hall shortly after 8:40 pm, I was not surprised to see that the small conference room located near the Clerks Office, where Workshop meetings usually take place, dark and empty. The meeting had been moved to Middletown’s Town Hall courtroom. And when I walked into the courtroom I saw why. There had to easily be 60 or more people in attendance when normally fewer than a dozen show up for Workshop meetings.
Many of those in attendance were from SONIC (Save Our Neighborhood’s Integrity & Character), the River Plaza/ Lincroft Chargers and Middletown Eagles Pop Warner teams along with a sprinkling of soccer parents.
I expected to walk in during the normal business portion of the meeting but that was not the case. The Mayor, in a tactic that I believe was designed to limit the opportunity of those in attendance from speaking, decided to allow the delay of the business portion of the meeting in favor of letting those in attendance voice their concerns about the proposed sports complex. In so doing, the mayor placed a one-hour time limit for discussion, hoping in my opinion, that those that did not have a chance to speak would not stick around long enough for public comments at the end to voice their concerns and just go home. As it turned out however that was not the case, many stayed passed midnight to have their voices heard.
Due to the format change to the agenda, I missed much of that first hour’s discussion but what I did hear was fiery nonetheless.
People who were there to voice their concerns in favor of the Chargers football program stated that they did not want to leave their field of 61 years to move to a facility, that in their opinion would not be adequate for their program. They questioned why a new synthetic turf field could not be installed at Trezza Field, where they currently practice during the week and play on weekends, as spelled out in the original $2.5 million bond ordinance signed by then Mayor Hall in 2006.
The Pop Warner group offered many suggestions as to how the currant field location could be upgraded by eliminating two unused baseball fields and by asking if the small parcel of wetlands that border a portion of the area could be worked around somehow. They also voiced concerns about the West Front Street location because there would be no amenities like snack bar available to them. It seems that the snack bar is the one major source of the team’s revenue that they depend on and cannot survive without.
The Committee allowed the Township Administrator Tony Mercantante and the Township Engineer Ted Mahoney, to answer and basically told the Pop Warner people sorry. Trezza Field just wasn’t big enough and could not be expanded any further to accommodate them and nothing could be done about wetlands issues. Of course all kinds of catcalls then ensued.
Members of SONIC spoke against the West Front Street location as well and questioned why other sites that had been rated higher on the Park and Recreation Master plan, such as Nut Swamp Park is not being consider for the sports complex. The answer to that question, which the members of SONIC and the other groups have heard before but still believe to be a farce, is that the terrain of the park makes the location not cost effective because too much work would have the be done to level to playing area and provide proper drainage, which perplexed the questioners because, after all, Nut Swamp had been rated higher.
During the Committee Comments portion of the meeting, which took place about 90 minutes later, Sean Byrnes spoke to the issue of the fields and stated how the township has to do a better job of planning how it handles recreation issues in the future to avoid these types of conflicts with residents. He stated that the process is haphazard and flawed and that through better planning, fields all through out the township could be utilized.
Committeewoman Brightbill and Mayor Scharfenberger addressed the issue during comments by say that many of the rumors and conspiracy theories surrounding the issue of the sports complex is just that, rumors and conspiracy issues. They stated that there is a lot of planning and discussions that are happening behind closed doors because it is “a very complicated issue” and contrary to what people have heard or read much of it is not true.
The meeting was then opened back up for public comments, but if you had spoken earlier you could not speak again to follow-up on a point or comment, and I left shortly afterward.
Based on what I witnessed and what others have told me it doesn’t seem like the Mayor and the Committee did anything to defuse the anger and bewilderment of any of those in attendance Monday night over this sports complex. Many felt that the Mayor Scharfenberger was condensating, insincere and not to be trusted, while others felt letdown and betrayed on this issue and are vowing to fight.
Here’s what a couple of posters on the NJ.com Middletown forum had to say about Monday night’s meeting:
21747. Scharfy’s tries to duck and lie
by chargerfan20, 3/2/10 8:15 ET
What show at township meeting last night. Lies , lies and more lies. Heard mayor wants to throw Chargers off Trezza Field if they don’t shut up. West Front st field and South field can’t handle chargers program.
21747.1. so right you are…what has to be done
by divebojangels, 3/2/10 8:55 ET
Re: Scharfy’s tries to duck and lie by divebojangels, 3/2/10
is at sign ups pass out a paper telling the parents to vote for the jackass party in nov…thats the only way this can be resolved…get rid of all those elephants….talk about ramming through a field …there just unbelievable…and all they do is lie…amazing how they can sit there and say there for the people….
21750. croydan hall will get there new turf field
by divebojangels, 3/2/10 9:01 ET
and get to play on it all 7 days,to go along with there snack stands and lights and bathrooms….but the chargers get to play n6 days at the dog park,and on the 7 day are being ask to move up to front street to play without lights a bathroom,and most of all no snack stands….just amazing….its time for lincroft the step child of middletown to vote for the jackasses…bounce all those elephants out…all they do is lie
21750.1. What about Chargers???
by chargerfan20, 3/2/10 9:23 ET
Re: croydan hall will get there new turf field by chargerfan20, 3/2/10
they were so two faced last night. Not thinking about the chargers just about their own little @#%’s. When will they listento people in this town? NEVER