RedBankGreen: MIDDLETOWN FIELD DEBATE HEATS TO A BOIL

Reporter Dustin Racioppi from RedBankGreen.com also attended last nights Middletown Township Committee meeting, I think his article did a better job at capturing the overall atmosphere and feelings that were present in the room, more so than what was published in the Asbury Park Press. He also has a few good pictures worth checking out.

Below is his take on how things went last night:

Podium pounding. Yelling. Fingerpointing. The only things missing from Monday night’s Township Committee meeting were pitchforks and torches.

To say the least, the residents are getting restless.

About 200 of them turned out to hear how the town intended to go forward with contentious plans to upgrade two athletic areas to artificial turf and add more fields to them in order to accommodate more sports. Many came to voice their concerns, some to give the committee a stern talking to and others just to grandstand.

It wasn’t for naught.

Because of a potential sale of the project’s engineer, CMX Engineering, the committee decided not to move forward just yet in finalizing plans to upgrade fields at Croydon Hall and West Front Street Park.

The governing body also nixed its plans to add lighting, a public announcement system and concession stand at West Front, which have long been a bone of contention among neighbors.

Still, a certain level of outrage remained concerning West Front.

A number of residents in the Lincroft section of town — at least 400, if you go by signed petitions gathered by resident Mary Mahoney — are against the town’s plan in one way or another. Some believe that although the committee resolved not to add the amenities now, it may try to do so in the future.

A seemingly larger number are still angered because they’d rather see Trezza Field, the longtime home of Pop Warner’s Chargers, get the improvements.

Originally the committee wanted that, too. But plans drawn up by T&M Associates to add baseball fields, multi-use fields and parking to Trezza Field proved to be an unwise choice for the town, primarily because of limited space and surrounding wetlands, said Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger. As a result, the focus shifted to the fields at West Front Street.

Since then, residents have decried the plan, saying it will increase traffic and otherwise alter the area’s quality of life. And at the meeting, Allen Vrabel tried to prove that T&M was wrong, when he took his five minutes of the public comment portion to break out a schematic drawing from an unnamed engineer and pass out copies of it to the crowd showing that the fields will fit at Trezza with sufficient parking and without impinging on wetlands.

The crowd erupted with hoots and applause.

“What you’re proposing is like putting a square peg in a round hole on West Front Street,” Vrabel said. “These can go out to bid tomorrow.”

Vrabel’s comments opened up the gates for the public to skewer the committee, which took it with aplomb — particularly Scharfenberger, who got an earful from Barbara Thorpe.

Thorpe, who scolded Scharfenberger for not paying close enough attention to her, argued that now isn’t the time to spend the estimated $2.5 million on these upgrades.

“Your priorities are all screwed up,” she said to Sharfenberger. “I don’t know what planet you come from or live on, but you are oblivious.”

The $2.5 million to support the field upgrades comes from money set aside in a 2006 bonding package, and is specifically approved for the fields, Committeewoman Pamela Brightbill said.

More pressing at the moment, though, is the fate of CMX. Scharfenberger said he’s not sure of the specifics or how a sale could potentially affect the timeline of the field work, but said the town is looking into it.

“There’s lots of variables. We’re sort of in limbo right now,” he said.

Scharfenberger said the committee is going to also look into the feasibility of Vrabel’s proposal.

“We’re going to look at this very seriously. We wanted to put (more fields) at Trezza, but conditions, as we explained, precluded that,” Scharfenberger said. “We’re going to consider everything that is viable.”

10 Comments

Filed under CMX Engineering, Lincroft, Pop Warner, RedBankGreen.com, sports complex, Trezza Field, West Front Street

10 responses to “RedBankGreen: MIDDLETOWN FIELD DEBATE HEATS TO A BOIL

  1. Bonds are indebtedness that must be repaid by the residents of this township. They are not GRANTS or free money as this bunch would like us to believe. What has this money earned in the years they have had it stashed and what is the interest rate on this LOAN (bond)issue ? Why hasn't the bond been used before for the purposes they have claimed the loan was taken for in 2006 if what they say is true?Seems the bond was to be utilized for Charger Field and Croydon Hall and that was never done. The question is WHY? WHY ? WHY ? Every time the TC opens their mouths it's a different story.Time for integrity and ethics which are currently AWOL.Long past time.

  2. Looks like the Democrats have found the election issue that they have decided to latch on to. Funny that this was more of Sean Byrnes's baby than anyone else on the committee. Now, dems are trying to say that the big bad republicans are trying to ram rod something down the throats of the Residents. Funny that Byrnes is curiously silent about what is going on (he WAS a proponent of this too) and, actually, it seems as if wants to drag this debate on now. Time for everyone on the committee to make a decision: either go forward with this or drop it all together. I, personallly, think that this should be dropped.

  3. Anonymous You need to get your facts straight before you accuse Brynes of anything.Byrnes did not propose the use of WFS, it was not his baby.Byrnes was working towards working with the BOE when Tony Mercantante announce that the township was moving away from the BOE and Nut Swamp School site. Mercantante was the force behind WFS .

  4. Despite everything that transpired on Monday night, there were are a couple of guys out on West Front Street field taking measurements. Guess the MTC is still wasting our taxpayer dollars!

  5. Someone spoke with the people measuring the field and thank goodness it was not the engineering firm but Parks and Rec. No need to post the previous comment. IF you already did then please post the first sentence of this comment.

  6. They promised since 2006, money is there for these fields which will save money over the long haul on upkeep. To just drop it now, the voters will not forget. It is obvious the field upgrades should go to Charger field(Long overdue) and Crydon Hall (which was recently upgraded a while back). Shame on the TC if they do not do what they promised to the community. Many votes at stake not too.

  7. I'm on the boat with you about Trezza Field and the need to upgrade it. Give the Chargers their field.However, I question whether or not these fields will save money over the long haul. The P&K MP stated that maintenance costs over a 20 years period was the same for grass field as it was for turf.Also, with so many activities that would be planned these fields will be utilized almost 300 days a year often with multiple activities per day.The normal life span on the turf field is 7-10 years with modest use, when these fields need to be replaced after 5-7 years who foots the bill for the additional $2 million in replacement costs?

  8. Marg,I posted both comments because I was just wondering, if the people who were measuring the field were from P&K and not the engineering firm, what were they measuring the field for???Did anyone ask them that? They may have been there inncently enough measuring for field markings or they may have been there for something else…

  9. I heard the P&R workers were just measuring for marking where to put the lines down so teams can start using the fields.

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