I never put much thought into the validity of various conspiracy theories; for the most part these theories are generally not based on facts or have only a loose affiliation with them.
One such theory has recently developed around the controversial Lincroft Sports Complex issue thanks to members of the River Plaza/Lincroft Chargers Pop Warner football organization.
The theory revolves around the fact that Trezza Field, the home of the Chargers for over sixty years is located next to Shadow Lake Village, an age restricted community for those over the age of fifty-five and the fact that Monmouth County Freeholder John Curley moved into the community in 2008 just before his first attempt at running for Freeholder.
It is believed that many of the seniors that live at Shadow Lake are unhappy with the field being located so close to the complex and that the lights and noise from PA system are a nuisance that can no longer be tolerated.
It is believed that Curley used his political influence in some way to pressure the Middletown Committee to give up its plan to refurbish Trezza Field by threaten that the all important senior vote from Shadow Lake would not be there for them come November if the Chargers were not moved from Trezza Field.
Here’s some history that lead to the theory:
The Chargers were promised a number years ago by the Middletown Township Committee that their home, Trezza Field, would be re-surfaced with artificial turf and in 2006 a bond was issued that stated as much, but somehow along the way plans changed.
Instead of re-surfacing Trezza field as promised the Township decided that it would build a multi-sports complex in Lincroft, off of Middletown-Lincroft Rd. The complex was to have light towers, bleachers, snack bar, PA system and ample parking to accommodate hundreds of cars, much like the currently proposed and controversial complex planned for West Front Street.
But the plan met with so much anger and resistance from the residents in the area, that it lead to the town dropping the plan and the election of Patrick Short, the first Democrat elected to a committee seat in Middletown in 20 years.
During the three years that followed the Chargers continued to press the Mayors of Middletown to have their field taken care of because it’s condition continued to worsen. Middletown in the mean time hired a consulting firm to develop a master plan for it Parks and Recreation Department.
When completed, the Master Plan had made a number of recommendations as to how to better utilize the use current parks and sport fields throughout the Township. The plan called for the creation of two multi-use artificial turf fields that could be used for football, soccer and la cross and suggested that the Township enter into mutual use agreements with the Board of Education to build at least one of these fields on BOE property and to share the use of the newly turfed fields at both township high schools. But yet again no real plan for Trezza Field.
Shortly after the plan was adopted Mayor Brightbill met with the Chargers and told them not to worry, that all of the concerns would be addressed and taken care of, the Chargers would have a new field to play on soon.
In May 2009, the Township hastily approach the Board of Ed with a plan to possible build two multi-sports fields on the grounds of Thompson and Thorne Middle Schools. After lengthy negotiations between the BOE and Township talks broke down in October. The BOE felt that the Township was not addressing their concerns over usage and maintenance while the Township felt that the BOE was not negotiating in good faith.
It was at this time that the Township Committee voted unanimously drop the idea of mutual usage of fields with the BOE and announce their intention to build a multi-use sports complex on the corner of West Front St. and Crawford Corner Rd. in Lincroft, on the grounds of West Front Street Park, which has lead to the current controversy.
And now instead of having Trezza Field re-surfaced, the Chargers are being told that they will have to move from their beloved field of over sixty years to the new complex at West Front Street Park due to lack of space and wetlands issues, even though the new complex will not have the amenities that they feel are vital for the continued expansion and success of their organization.
As conspiracy theories go this one is somewhat plausible but highly unlikely. It seems to have come from that fact that members of the Chargers organization are frustrated and angered over how the feel repeatedly lied to and betrayed by the majority that sit on the Township Committee, that have promised field upgrades years ago and have not delivered on those promises.
And when I asked my friends at Shadow Lake if they had heard of any rumors floating around the Lake about opposition to the Trezza Field upgrades they had this to say… “Nobody at the Democratic Club Steering Committee meeting had any issues with the sports field, and no one had heard any rumblings about disaffected residents. In fact, people seemed to agree that a bit of noise during some afternoons in the summer was just kids having a good time and something that came with the neighborhood. So there very well may be some folks who are grousing about the games, heck, somebody is *always* complaining about something around here. But it is surely not some kind of organized protest.”
So it seems that Freeholder John Curley and the residents over at Shadow Lake are not behind some master conspiracy theory to pressure the Middletown Township Committee into not renovating Trezza Field (much to my chagrin).
At this point it seems that the reason for not putting artificial turf over Trezza Field is based entirely on the recommendations of the Township’s Master Plan which recommended the installation of synthetic fields for multi-use complexes that could accommodate many, not just a football field that in the eyes of the Township could not be expanded.