Category Archives: artificial turf fields

Asbury Park Press: Plans to expand field use riles Lincroft neighbors

In today’s edition of the Asbury Park Press there is the following story that I spoke about in yesterdays blog post having to deal with the expansion and installation of an artificial turf field at the West Front Street Park in the Lincroft area of Middletown.

It’s interesting to see how fast Gerry Scharfenberger has back-peddled on this seeing how he was one of the people to vote in favor of this proposal:

MIDDLETOWN — For years, Mary Mahoney and dozens of other Lincroft residents have lived adjacent to a recreational field that various sports teams use for practice.

On Monday, dozens of the residents attended a Middletown Township Committee meeting to voice their opposition to the municipality’s proposal to expand usage of the field at West Front Street Park to actual games.

In particular, the township never notified the residents that, along with installing an artificial turf field, it was considering adding light towers, a public address system and a snack bar to the site, Mahoney said.

“Where was the transparency?” Mahoney asked township committee members, drawing applause from many who sat in the crowd. “None of us knew anything about this.”

Currently, activities at the site do not draw a crowd, as it is used primarily for practice, said Sarah Hammond, a resident. With the change, the neighborhood would get overwhelmed with cars because of inadequate parking at the site and with noise pollution from the PA system, she said.

“From Aug. 1 to November, there will be no rest in my home,” said Hammond, who noted that her backyard is about 100 feet from the field.

In December, Middletown awarded a $194,700 contract for engineering work on the proposed fields in Lincroft and Croydon Hall to Manalapan’s CMX Engineering. The plan is under design and has not been finalized, said Anthony Mercantante, Middletown’s administrator. The fields would be used for sports such as football, soccer, lacrosse and field hockey.

Rather than expand the West Front Street Park site, Middletown had preferred to install the turf field at either Thorne Middle School or Thompson Middle School, township officials said. Middletown would have paid for the construction and leased the land from the district.

After discussing the proposal for several months, Middletown and Middletown Township School District officials could not reach an agreement, they said.

The district had preferred to see the field at Nut Swamp Elementary School, believing there would be inadequate parking at either Thompson or Thorne, said Christopher Parton, its attorney.

But Middletown found the Nut Swamp site to be too hilly, requiring a significant amount of leveling, Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger said.

Following Monday’s public outcry, township officials are currently reviewing the plan to see what can be amended, said Scharfenberger, who could not pinpoint when any potential changes to the proposal would be released.

“The plans are not etched in stone,” Scharfenberger said. “We may make adjustments to

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Filed under artificial turf fields, Asbury Park Press, Lincroft, West Front Street

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.

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

Letter: Why Are Turf Fields Top Priority During Worst Economic Times Since The Great Depression?

Politics has overcome any sense of good government in Middletown Township.This is an egregious miscarriage of politics masquerading as government in this community.

When economic conditions are ignored and artificial turf fields are the major priority of the township committee members, there is something radically wrong with those elected and hired to administrate in this township. Most families are endeavoring to keep jobs,keep their homes, and trying to keep food on their tables and pay their bills. Their prime concern is not whether their kids have artificial turf fields to run on for sports activities.

There are many residents and citizens in this community that can connect the dots in this scenario. Remember the vicious political rhetoric of the 2008,2009 campaigns for township committee and the 2009 freeholder race and the individuals responsible for those vicious accusations against the democratic candidates in those races…( the alleged petitions for recall of the board of education member were never circulated or filed). These names connected to all that vicious rhetoric are the same names that trace connection to the turf field company favored for the current endeavor to construct two turf fields in Middletown during the worst economic circumstances since the Great Depression.

These questions demands answers……Is this proposal for turf fields somehow payment of a political debt for that vicious ranting that commanded so much attention in the fall of 2008 and again in 2009? Is common sense or reason absent when this township cannot pay it’s financial obligations without emergency resolutions,refuses to consider a finance committee and choses turf fields over jobs.

This all reeks of political motivation and ineptitude.Smell the coffee residents of Middletown….it’s your tax dollar at work. You pay these bills!

These are not the times for this kind of ignorance from those who claim to govern.This suggests incompetence when one examines the priorities of those chosen to serve in this community!!

Barbara R.Thorpe

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Filed under artificial turf fields, Economic Crisis, Middletown, the Great Depression, Turf project

Townships Presentation to Middletown Board of Education A Lot About Nothing

I returned home a short while ago from the Township’s’ special presentation to the Middeltown Board of Education concerning the installation of artificial turf fields on the campuses of Thorne and Thompson Middle Schools. To be frank, It was a waste of time. The township had no real plan to present and no real answers to questions.

It seemed as if Township Administrator Tony Mercantante was somewhat unprepared, he had a few ariel shots of the proposed sites with superimposed rectangles to simulate where the fields would be installed and not much else.

Mercantante basically just asked the Board of Education if they would like to partner up with the township on this project. When BOE members asked specific questions he answered that all the details would have to be worked out during land lease and partnership negotiations and that problems would be ironed out then.

About two dozen residents voiced concerns about the projects and asked the BOE to keep in mind the hidden costs that may associated with this plan. A couple of other residents mentioned the safety and injury concerns associated with artificial surfaces.

Overall though, it was a waste of time for the public to invited to hear because there was just not enough details and as I stated earlier, there are many questions that need to be answered like, who would be responsible for maintaining the fields? What about insurance liabilities? Who would be responsible for supervising or policing them during off hours? Who gets preference of use, the school system or sports leagues? Who replaces the carpet when it wears out in 10 years do to over use? What about lighting, concessions, locker rooms and bathroom facilities? All of these questions and more need to be answered before this project can move forward, not just brushed over with false statements or promises that can not be kept.

So let it be known that I am not opposed to the fields per say, I think that it is a good idea, a win-win situation for both the Township and the Board of Education, but it has to be done right all of the I’s need to be dotted and all the T’s crossed before I feel comfortable with giving this matter my unconditional support.

There is also the problem that I have with this years township budget. How can we spend money on obvious luxury items around town when we can’t balance our budget? The adoption of the budget is almost 6 months late and have a proposed 9.2% tax increase associated with it. if we have money lying around for 3 athletic fields maybe we should drop the idea for the 3rd and use that money to off set the shortfall in the current budget.

One thing that was lost at the meeting, which I feel that I should mention is that even if these fields are not approved by the Board of Education, the Township seems to have every intention on moving forward with installing an artificial surface over the football field that is located at Croydon Hall. This is the 3rd field mentioned and is used by Pop Warner teams in town.

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Filed under artificial turf fields, Football, Middeltown Board of Education, Middletown Parks and Recreation, natural grass, Pop Warner, tax increase, Tony Mercantante

The Pros and Cons of Artificial Fields at Middletown Middle Schools

Tonight there will be a special presentation by Middletown Township Administrator Tony Mercantante, to the Middletown Board of Education that will outline a plan to have artificial turf fields installed at the campuses of two township middle schools believed to be Thorne and Thompson. The meeting will be held in the auditorium of Middletown High School North. This plan is expected to be controversial so the public is strongly encouraged to attend the 6:30 pm presentation.

I’ve thought about this idea since I heard about it late last week, it is not necessarily a bad idea. If done right it would benefit both the school system and the township. The BOE has the expertise in managing and maintaining artificial turf fields already with the athletic fields installed at both high schools and if a mutually acceptable partnership could be worked out then the township gains by being able fulfill a goal of its Parks & Recreation Master Plan.

The P&R Master Plan recommended that the township consider the installation of 2-3 artificial turf fields to go along with the two high school fields if the differences between the BOE and the township could be worked out. By doing so, it would allow the use of the high school fields by the various sports leagues in town and the need for further fields in town would be negated.

Could the Town and the BOE work out such differences? It would be quite an achievement if they could. There are many questions that need to be answered like, who would be responsible for maintaining the fields? What about insurance liabilities? Who would be responsible for supervising or policing them during off hours? Who gets preference of use, the school system or sports leagues? Who replaces the carpet when it wears out in 10 years do to over use? What about lighting, concessions, locker rooms and bathroom facilities? All of these questions and more need to be answered before this project can move forward.

Why not spend that money, which is burning such a hole in the township’s pockets on maintaining or improving the currents natural turf fields, or building new ones around town? Over a 20 year period the costs of a natural turf filed is less then that of an artificial turf field.

What makes the artificial fields more desirable is the fact that you can hold more events on them because of the superior drainage and surface, so the additional costs are justified by the number of additional games that can be played on them.

The lingering question in my mind however remains whether or not the township can afford to spend the $2-3 million needed for these fields in a time of economic uncertainty for the township. The township budget has a shortfall of $2.4 million dollars and we are looking at a 9.2% tax increase to make up the difference, to me the installation of any athletic field is a luxury not a necessity at this time.

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Filed under artificial turf fields, Budget Shortfall, Middletown, Middletown Board of Education, Park and Recreation Master Plan, tax increase, Tony Mercantante

Middletown Board of Education Announces Possible Plan To Install Artifical Turff Fields At Middle Schools

My son came home from school last week and asked me if I had heard anything about an artificial turf field being planned for installation in the field that is part of Thorne Middle school’s campus? I told him that I had not, but that I had heard that new fields were going to be install at the Croydon Hall complex and over at River Plaza. When I asked him why he had asked, he mentioned that all of the kids had been talking about it during the day. 
I didn’t think much of at the time because when you deal with teenage middle schoolers anything can come out of them at any moment.

Today however I find out from the Asbury Park Press, that the Board of Education announced last night that a presentation will be made by the Township at the regular board meeting on Wednesday, May 27th, on a plan to install artificial turf fields at Thompson and Thorne Middle Schools and that Board President Laura Agin, has invited the entire Township Committee to be present at the presentation of this proposal.

Is this really a good idea at this time and are these fields going to be at the expense of the township? There are so many unanswered questions to this proposal.

I am not opposed to these fields, but  I do question if we have the funds to be spending millions of dollars on fields when there are infrastructure problems that are of higher priority? The town is experiencing a $2.4 million budget shortfall which equates to over a 9% tax increase in order to balance the budget.

If these fields are to be built all questions need to be answered. The BOE will not decide this right away, they need to hear all of the concerns, discuss all of the details and then make a decision.

As we all know, they are very familiar with turf field installation due to past experiences. The BOE needs to hear from everyone so that they understand there are more than Pop Warner and soccer parents that have concerns and since this proposal involves township residents, ALL discussions must be held in public.

That is why it is imperative for all concerned residents to attend and voice their opinion at the next Board of Education meeting on May 27th. 

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Filed under artificial turf fields, Asbury Park Press, Laura Agin, Middletown Board of Education, Middletown Township Committee