In Light Of The Mayor’s Decision to Cancel The Lincroft Sports Complex Lets Revist SONIC’s Letter

Now that the Mayor has declared the West Front Street and Croydon Hall sports complexes null and void due to the alleged economic condition, I thought it might be relevant to re post the letter that SONIC wrote to him and the Township Committee back in early February.

After sending Gerry Scharfenberger their letter, SONIC later went on to meet with the Mayor on Saturday February 12th to discuss the issues that were outlined in the letter during his weekly office hours.

The reasons SONIC opposed this development were reasonably stated with valid concerns.

What stands out most to me are the 2 paragraphs highlighted regarding SONIC’S questioning the timing of this expenditure during these current bad economic times. As well as their suggested solutions which the Mayor had promised to follow through with but never did.

It finally took the Governor’s convenient cut in aid (even though for many months the Mayor and others insisted that the cost of the new fields would not effect the current budget process), to get the Mayor to recognize what SONIC had been saying all along.

Expansion of Useage of the Field at West Front Street in Lincroft
February 11, 2010

Dear Mayor Scharfenberger,

I am writing this letter on behalf of a recently formed group of residents from the Lincroft Community who choose to be known as “Save Our Neighborhood’s Integrity & Character” or “SONIC” for short. This group is principally comprised of residents in and around the West Front Street soccer fields, however we are receiving support from residents and various groups in Middletown and Holmdel as a result of your announced expansion plans. It is our sincere pledge to work with you and the entire Middletown Township Committee with regard to the stated Mission of the Township, which as per Township’s own letterhead is to “Save a Life, Save a Neighborhood, Save Taxes.”

SONIC has no objection to improving these grass fields making them safer for soccer and other sports but we do not support the amenities to the sports complex. We strongly object to the plans for 70 foot tall lights, an expanded parking lot, chain link fence, public address system, snack bar and storage facilities. This represents an entirely different type and concentration of activity; permanently changing the character and integrity of the neighborhood. These changes or what was characterized as improvements are the main reasons why we feel so betrayed by you, our elected officials, in not fully disclosing your intent and the extent of this development.

The following is a list of the key elements that SONIC believes make the West Front Street site not suitable or appropriate for the intended expansion:

A Serious Traffic Hazard:
The intersection of West Front Street and Crawfords Corner/Everett Road, a county road, already is a heavily utilized traffic area. It serves as a main route into Red Bank, to various elementary and pre-schools, Brookdale Community College, CBA, as well as a route from Holmdel and elsewhere into the Town itself. Increased activity, such as Pop Warner football , will serve to increase traffic in an unbearable way, leading to a major safety hazard for those who reside and worship in the area and for the children living in and around West Front Street Park. Even with the expanded parking lot in the proposal, with the inevitable tournaments or back to back games there will be insufficient parking available. Where would the cars go but spill onto West Front St, Everett Road and side streets? Required or not, we request a traffic study be done by the county.

Drainage:
There will be drainage issues that accompany the current plan to install a drainage pipe through the easement between 109 and 111 University Dr. Natural springs and poor drainage already exist in this location.

Lighting and Sound System:
There is little to no natural buffer for the homes on Tuller Ct, Everett Road and University Drive to protect from the tall lights and P/A system. The homeowners on University Drive are very concerned with the removal of trees which may be necessary for installation of an artificial turf football field, sidelines, and additional buildings. This would further reduce an already insufficient buffer and affect our quality of life.

On Table 19 of the Parks and Recreation Master Plan, of the 12 properties considered for a synthetic turf field, West Front Street Park ranked low in topography, available parking, drainage and size. Thompson Middle School and Nut Swamp School ranked considerably better in all criteria. West Front Streets overall ranking was the lowest of all available fields in the area with the exception of Nut Swamp Park.

In addition to the above issues as to why this site is inappropriate, we question the timing of this expenditure. With a projected budget deficit of $5.0MM for our Township this year, when residents are losing their jobs and others are struggling to get by on reduced incomes and reeling from increased property taxes, building a “multi-sport” complex appears extravagant. Not having a CFO and a Finance Committee in place to review all the options is, in our view causing unwise financial decisions to be made. Awarding a nearly $200,000 contract to CMX engineering before plans were appropriately vetted with those directly affected seems equally irresponsible.

Common sense and public duty requires you to act responsibly by pursuing solutions that leverage existing assets for the betterment of the entire community. One solution would be to apply a portion of the $2.5MM in funds the Township received from the bonds issued in 2006 for capital expenditures for Parks and Recreation in order to reduce the deficit and reserve a portion to improve the parking and grass condition of the existing Trezza Field. We already have two artificial turf fields in town and these are not just expensive to build but also costly to maintain. Would it not be better to resume discussion with the Board of Education to seek a Shared Use Agreement for the use of these fields? In reviewing the public correspondence between the BOE and MTC from June through September regarding the Proposed Shared Services/Land Use Agreement, we believe the BOE did their part to work this out. To claim that the BOE “lawyered up” as the reason for the failed negotiations is just not acceptable. Moreover, the President of the BOE has personally agreed to readdress this issue and the members of SONIC urge you to do so.

Accordingly, SONIC respectfully requests that prior to the February 16th Middletown Township Committee meeting a few of our members meet with you in your office to have an open and honest exchange of ideas, preferably this coming Saturday, since you will be available as a result of last week’s snowstorm. It is our hope and desire to resolve this issue for the benefit of the community as a whole and restore our trust in our elected officials.

Cordially,

On behalf of the below representatives of SONIC, et al

Sarah Hammond, Mary Mahoney, Jeffrey Blumengold, Stanley Gelfman, Trish Thomson, Jodi Molasani, Marianne Musella, and Peter Simpson


It’s too bad that in the end arrogance and bad planning on the part of Mayor Scharfenberger and others is what really doomed the sports complexes. If the Mayor and others would have stuck to the orginal plan to improve Trezza Field, the home of the Pop Warner Chargers, instead of insisting that the Chargers except West Front Street Park as their new home, both Trezza Field and Croydon Hall would be having new turf fields installed as we speak and opposition to the turf projects would have been muted.
Instead the Mayor, like a 3rd grader took his fields and went home, blaming the Governor along the way instead of looking into the mirror that would have shown the egg on his face.

6 Comments

Filed under artificial turf fields, Lincroft, Mayor Scharfenberger, Middletown Board of Education, Sonic, sports complex, West Front Street

6 responses to “In Light Of The Mayor’s Decision to Cancel The Lincroft Sports Complex Lets Revist SONIC’s Letter

  1. He does have a choice and it is not his choice to make. WE have been sitting on this bond, collecting interest for 4 years now. The money is already there. There is a facility at Trezza field to install it, as it was originally stated in the ordinance. Gerry was thrown offguard by everyone siding against him, so HE decided to quash the whole project. You can see that he is now focusing his agenda on the budget after 4 months of spending our money before it is budgeted. We see other towns and our own BOE adjust to changes in Trenton and produce budgets ontime plus under cap. As Gerry said himself, he knew the amount that was being cut on February 1. This was BEFORE most of the turf field controversy. If we listen to what is being said and put the pieces together, we can see a bigger picture. History is not about what is said. It is about what was written about what was said.

  2. Sometimes history is about what is said….especially if it is on tape!

  3. Thank God what is said is on tape because the minutes of meetings distort facts or outright lie at times!! Audio tapes are the only reliable history of what transpires at TC meetings .

  4. Really? Oh my. How much money was spent this past year by Parks and Recreation? I hear 1.5 to 2.5 million anyoone know? Heck, I visited every park ran by Middletown and I do not see 1.5 let alone 2.5 million worth of money spent in one year. Someone has a lot of splanning to do, Lucy

  5. The real sad part of the last 3-4 months worth of MTC meetings have only shown there is no balance here. This is being said by a life long Republican. The only person who cares or has a real clue is the only Democrat Sean Byrnes. Sadly his input is usually sidelined. The real losers here are the kids. Thanks Mr Mayor for taking your ball and going home. If this was done the right way from the start we would have all been big winners.

  6. Stupidity reins!!Watch the behavior of this egocentric mayor and take notice of the lawyer whispering in his ear throughout meetings.This deputy mayor needs a good swift kick in his posterior…andnot so bright Brightbill just does what she's told and then there's the mute or afraid to talk one…useless.Time to start to clean house…… DUMP THEM ALL !!! Bipartisan government is healthy and certainly better than this charade.

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