Category Archives: Mayor Scharfenberger

>No Smear Shall Go Unanswered: Latest By Vitkansas Is Not So "Amusing"

>In the latest smear letter directed at Middletown Committeeman Sean Byrnes, I am glad that the writer finds it amusing to read other peoples letters that point out the short comings of Middletown’s mayor and other members of his beloved Republican Party. The letter, which is written by Michael Vitkansas, has appeared in various local publications recently.

Truth be told, Vitkansas is a strong and active member of the same, elite Middletown Republicans that he tries to protect by spreading misleading and sometimes inflammatory information about others. As a Republican County Committeeman representing his district in Middletown, Vitkansas has often allowed himself to be used as a tool for the local Republican machine and as a reward for his loyalty, he now sits on a number of local boards and commissions in Middletown, which makes his invocation of the “patriots of the TEA Party” in his letter, laughable in and of itself.

In his most recent lapdog attack letter, Vitkansas goes after a fellow letter writer, Jeff Blumengold, for criticizing the poor job that mayor Gerard Scharfenberger and his GOP majority has done in their planning efforts while trying to run Middletown Township over the past 5 years, by attacking Democrat Sean Byrnes.

In his letter, Vitkansas tries to label Byrnes as a socialist liberal who favors COAH, supports teachers, unions and high property taxes in his attempt to persuade readers into believing something that just is not so.

Those that know Committeeman Byrnes would describe him as a fiscal conservative and a social moderate. Over the 3 years that he has been a Middletown committeeman, Byrnes has made many suggestions on how to reign in the local spending that has resulted in tax hikes that total over 39% to the municipal tax rate over the past 5 years (since mayor Scharfenberger has sat on the committee), only to be rebuked by his fellow committee members. He has never voted in support of a Township budget that has included a tax increase, including the most recently adopted 2010 budget which raises the municipal tax rate by nearly12%

Committeeman Byrnes has repeatedly stated over his 3 years on the Township Committee that programs like COAH need to be revamped and revised so that the burden of such programs do not fall onto local taxpayers. Mr. Vitkansas and others that oppose Mr. Byrnes however, point out his vote to rezone the Avaya property in Lincroft, that rezoned the property from industrial to residential in order to meet Middletown’s state mandated COAH obligation, as proof that he is not sincere or straightforward. Allow me to point out though, that the ones that are not being straightforward and sincere with Middletown residents are Vitkansas and his fellow GOP supporters that attack Byrnes on this issue. After all, it was his friends on the republican dominated Middletown Planning & Zoning Boards that came up with the plan to rezone the Avaya property so that the Township would be in compliance with COAH, not Byrnes. At the time, mayor Scharfenberger, Pam Brightbill and Tony Fiore, all current Republican members of the Township Committee, approved and voted for this rezoning as well.

Sean Byrnes knows that having a strong middle-class is the backbone and foundation of our State as well as our Country. He realizes that education plays a leading role in establishing that foundation and supports teachers and unions in general, knowing that without them there would be no middle-class as we know it today. That being said however, Mr. Byrnes has repeatedly been on the record as saying that he supports Gov. Christie’s “Tool Kit”, that reforms need to be made in order to level the playing field during contract negotiations and that state union members should be expected to contribute more to their healthcare costs.

If supporting Committeeman Sean Byrnes and his record as a member of the Middletown Township Committee in his re-election bid this November labels me as being a “socialist liberal” so be it. I love being a socialist liberal who opposes high taxes, government mismanagement and the entrenchment of the long-standing Republican ruling class.

I also happen to think that those “remarkable patriots in the Tea Party movement” that are “growing in numbers more and more with each passing day” are intelligent enough to know the difference and will also support Sean Byrnes and his running mate Mary Mahoney against Republicans that have borrowed, spent and raised local taxes to the point that it will soon become unaffordable to raise a family and live in Middletown.

3 Comments

Filed under Avaya, COAH, Gov. Chris Christie, Mayor Scharfenberger, Middletown Republicans, Sean F. Byrnes, tax increase, Tea Party

>Letter: Middletown Township Committee continues to routinely demonstrate great insensitivity to the present economic circumstances

>The following letter was writen and sent to me by Mr. Jeffrey Blumengold

As Labor Day approaches, I watch with some irony as the Middletown Township Committee continues to routinely demonstrate, both in words and in deed, great insensitivity to the present economic circumstances impacting our local citizens and community as a whole.

We all know friends and neighbors who are now unemployed or under-employed. Many of our residents are struggling at this time to maintain their standard of living. Yet, just when they least need it, the Township Committee, lacking any meaningful fiscal oversight or discipline, has delivered another financial burden to their doorstep — a large local property tax increase!
This is a special community, which is why I chose to move here with my family over twenty years ago. I had an opportunity over the last year to observe our Township Committee in action as it deliberated over turf fields and bonding issues. Although members of the Committee encouraged participation, sadly, after nearly a year of attending these meetings, I have come to conclude that the Committee itself is dysfunctional, at best.

Why? Several reasons: First, the necessary information that would allow a Committee Member to properly consider proposed resolutions is not disseminated evenly to all Committee members. As best I can tell, there is little, if any, communication across party lines. As a result, few matters are thoroughly discussed beforehand by the group as a whole. After attending many meetings, instead of collaboration, I observed rolling of eyes and disdain for fellow Committee members. Even though these individuals serve residents as Committtee members, they clearly remain political adversaries.

Second, unfortunately, due to the political breakdown of the current Committee, the majority rules. I have witnessed the exchanges, and I conclude that these meetings are often nothing more than a routine gang up by party members along party lines, rather than a transparent group of leaders, seeking to do what is right for those represented. At the last meeting, I was stunned by the lack of respect accorded to Committeeman Sean Byrnes, who as best as I can observe, continues to ask reasonable questions that are essentially ignored by the rest of the group. This open display of behavior, in public, is despicable.

From the vantage point of a concerned resident, the Committee has become a non-functional political machine, seeking to maintain the status quo, rather than taking on the tough job of careful collaboration, consideration and transparent debate on the serious issues facing our Township. We, as voters, elected these leaders to make the hard choices, so critically called for, especially in these unprecedented, difficult economic times.

I was disappointed to see that the latest focus of our Mayor is on re-writing State laws on how our schools are funded. While such discussions make for interesting debate, they are a needless distraction at a time when our residents need relief from onerous taxes. We need leadership, not a distracting debate over whether we should utilize property taxes, or sales and income taxes, to fund our schools. From my perspective, the current majority lacks the will to do what is necessary in these difficult times.

Jeffrey Blumengold
Lincroft, NJ

1 Comment

Filed under economy, letter to the editor, Mayor Scharfenberger, Middletown Township Committee, Republican Majority, Sean F. Byrnes, tax increase

Letter: Scharfenberger’s Budget "Plan" Isn’t Working

The Middletown Township Committee introduced a budget recently that results in an almost 13 present increase in property taxes. This is outrageous given the fact that there are many towns that have controlled their spending and see minimal increases, if none at all.

One could ask how this can happen in these times. A good response would be that there is a mayor that insists that he can handle the budget process. Mr. Scharfenberger began this fiscal year, in January, stating that he does the budget by osmosis. When there was a call to develop a plan to deal with the increasing costs and the reality of including costs from the previous year, Mr. Scharfenberger simply said that he already had a plan.

The mayor’s plan is to rely on everyone else to bail him out. If that does not happen he will just blame others, as he consistently does when things do not go the way he expects. It is time to rid Middletown of this type of thinking for it is not putting the taxpayer first. People need to realize that the current system that has been in place for over 25 years is not working.

Dora Crisafulli
Middletown

2 Comments

Filed under budget planning, Mayor Scharfenberger, Middletown Township, property taxes

Scharfenberger’s Green Initiative: Buy 5 New Trucks With SnowPlows While Laying Off 40 Employees

Gerry Scharfenberger likes to think of himself as the father of the Middletown Green Initiative, after all it was his idea even though there isn’t much to show for it except for the promise to turn off some lights and eventually install a few solar panels on the top of the Arts Center.

That was until now.

The Township has just taken possession of 5 brand new,beautiful Chevy Sliverado pick up trucks equipped with snowplows at a cost of $33K each.

Can someone tell me what he and the Township Administrator must be thinking when they purchase over $160K worth of trucks when the Township started the year with a $5M budget deficit? Do they think that the road to fiscal responsibliity must be driven down in trucks that cost the taxpayer $33K each?

How is a purchase like this justified when the Township has plans to layoff about 40 employees? Who is going to be driving these trucks? Maybe the Township will have the laid off employees use them to drive to the unemployment office. I am sure that the Police Department is glad that they agreed to a salary freeze for this year. We need to save every penny possible so that purchases like this can be afforded. At $33K each this totals well over $160K, which is the equivalent of salaries for 4-5 average employees on the Township payroll.

The Mayors’ Green Initiative should be about saving the green not spending it, especially since the Township does not have it to spend.

Cha-Ching!

Instead of parking these new vehicles in the Public Works Yard they are located in the school parking lot at Croydon Hall. They have not been registered yet, either.

Leave a comment

Filed under Chevy Silverado, Green Initiative, layoffs, Mayor Scharfenberger, Middletown

The Arrogance Of Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger Hiding Behind A Website

The following was sent in by a reader who attended last night’s Middeltown Township Committee meeting and wanted to get something off their chest. This person supported the school budget and did not think it necessary, fair or honest of the Township Committee to impose further cuts to the school budget after apparently agreeing to ~$ 1.6M proposed by the Board of Education without first informing the school board of it.

At last nights committee meeting the township committee finally approved the resolution to cut the school budget. The budget was defeated on April 20th by an unprecedented number of voters after the Governor in an equally unprecedented move had called for the defeat of school budget state wide.

After completely ignoring the invitation of the school board to hold a joint meeting in public ensuring maximum transparency to the process. The Mayor insisted on closed door meetings to discuss the defeated budget. At the workshop meeting resident after resident pleaded with the committee to hold an open forum were residents to discuss their concerns because roughly $10,000,000 had already been cut from the school budget prior to its defeat.

But the mayor who steadfastly refuses to hear the residents speak on regular committee issues prior to the committee voting, has been hiding in plain sight for years from the public, just as the majority of the committee has, unlike Democratic Committeeman Sean Byrnes, who has strived to make the committee operations more transparent and open to the public.

Finally after realizing the public could not be ignored the township set up a link so that residents could email concerns. It was a feeble attempt designed to once again hide in plain sight by receiving emails but refusing to hear in public or discuss residents concerns. While both the mayor and the deputy mayor championed the idea it demonstrated that they were only willing to receive the equivalent of a “Dear John” letter without facing the issue with the voters.

Not surprisingly they also stuck to the same pattern of hiding from the public by failing to place the resolution on the website, as was done with every other resolution of the evening. You have to wonder what the committee was trying to hide. It was not until after the vote and after the public was finally allowed to make statements that they finally disclosed the amount cut to a roomful of anxious school budget supporters.

They cut $2,090, 894 dollars from the school budget.

Ignoring all the information supplied by the superintendent and the school officials that they would be unable to cover state mandated requirements and insure student safety they cut more assistant principals from the already understaffed high schools.

But to add insult to injury they did not even have the courtesy to send a letter to the superintendent or the board president notifying them of the amount of the cut. It was just another example of the arrogance of the Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger not even to have the decency to notify school officials or the public about the cut.

Hiding behind a website is not transparency Gerry, its cowardice.

“The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.”

– Patrick Henry, American colonial revolutionary

“Government ought to be all outside and no inside. . . . Everybody knows that corruption thrives in secret places, and avoids public places, and we believe it a fair presumption that secrecy means impropriety.”

– Woodrow Wilson

“Everybody knows that corruption thrives in secret places, and avoids public places, and we believe it is a fair presumption that secrecy means impropriety”

– Pres. Woodrow Wilson

Leave a comment

Filed under budget cuts, Mayor Scharfenberger, Midddletown Board of Education, Middletown, Middletown Township Committee, school budgets, Sean F. Byrnes

MTEA Urges It’s Members to Call Town Hall To Tell Mayor To Stop Perpetuating The "Lie"

I received an email from a few people today that originated from Amy M. Johnson M.T.E.A. First Vice-President and Linda Guyer M.T.E.A. President. The email is addressed to members of the Middletown teachers union and it urges them to call Mayor Scharfenberger and other members of the Township Committee to let them know that the lies the mayor has been perpetuating concerning the MTEA not responding to his request for a wage freeze is false, unacceptable, damaging and unproductive.

I happen to agree and I urge all residents that think the same to call the mayor and let him know that you agree also.

Below is the text of the email with links that I inserted:

To all M.T.E.A. members:

It is clear that the Mayor of Middletown wants to perpetuate the lie that the M.T.E.A. did not respond to his letter by the close of business on April 30th as reported in The Atlantic Highlands Herald on May 3rd, The Independent on May 6th, and Asbury Park Press on May 9th. He needs to hear from each M.T.E.A. member about how his dirty politics are damaging and unproductive, and will not change our answer to his question. I strongly urge you to call the Mayor and Township Committee Members about this today! You may also consider calling any of the newspapers about the lies they are so willingly spreading.

http://www.middletownnj.org/Mayor_Township/index.asp

Many of the Middletown Township Committee members do not hold regular office hours, but all committee members may be contacted via voice mail at the numbers listed below:

Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger 732615-2024

Deputy Mayor Anthony Fiore 732706-4153

Committeewoman Pamela Brightbill 732706-4150

Committeeman Sean Byrnes 732706-4152

Committeeman Steve Massell 732706-4154

The Atlantic Highlands Herald: 732-872-1957

The Independent: 732-358-5200

Asbury Park Press: 1-800-822-9770

Thanking you in advance for your continued support,

Amy M. Johnson
M.T.E.A. First Vice-President / Grievance Chairperson

Linda Guyer
M.T.E.A. President

Leave a comment

Filed under Mayor Scharfenberger, Middletown, Middletown Board of Education, MTEA

TRT:M’Town School Budget Fails…Blah, Blah, Blah

I have to give another well deserved shoutout to Ryan Fennell, the reporter who covers the Middletown beat for the Two River Times. It seems that out of the 3 or 4 reporters that regularly cover the happenings at Middletown Committee meetings he seems to be the only one interested in reporting the whole story, not just the rantings and diatribes of an appointed mayor.

At Monday night’s Committee meeting when the discussion got around to the defeated school budget, he didn’t simply rely on two previously released press releases and a personal letter issued by mayor Scharfenberger over the last 10 days that were written to chastise Middletown teachers and their union into accepting a wage freeze like others have recently done. He actually reported what was said by another member of the Committee that doesn’t happen to sit in the majority, fanning the flames of residents displeasure by attempting to turn this years defeated school budget into a political campaign issue.

Of course he reported what the mayor and deputy-mayor had to say about the teachers, their union, the potential wage freeze and the effect it would have on the Township and school system if enacted, but their comments really just amounted to a rehash of the earlier press releases and letter.

Blah, blah,blah…wage freeze…blah,blah, blah…layoffs…blah, blah, blah…union…blah, blah,blah…pay freezes….blah blah,blah…voter anger at teachers….

Instead of ending his article there, with a one sided, biased, anti-teacher/union spin designed to make the members of the teachers union look bad and glorify the righteousness of the mayor’s attempt to play hardball, he adds the following passage that included the level headed and practical comments by Committeeman Sean Byrnes, who feels that there are more important long term issues that need to be addressed, that would have a much more significant impact to taxpayers if addressed now instead of squabbling over a temporary wage freeze for teachers:

“…Committeeman Sean Byrnes said that he is in favor of the teacher’s union accepting a wage freeze for the coming year, however, does not believe that a wage freeze will solve the problems of the long term.

“Even if we secure a wage freeze, I haven’t seen a recognition that the budgets problems facing the Board of Education and the town are long term and call for significant structural changes to our budgets and to our organizations in town,” Byrnes said. “A wage freeze will help in 2010. It will not solve the budget problems that we have.”
Byrnes said that he is proposing the formation of a budget review advisory committee that would consist of the Township Committee, the Board of Education, and the Library.
The advisory committee would specifically look for ways to consolidate, share services, and approach the town’s obligations from a “one town” perspective.
“I would prefer that we not approach or discuss things with the MTEA in a political manner,” Byrnes said. “I think it makes sense for the Township Committee, with the assistance of the Board of Education members, to have some discussions with the MTEA. But my preference would be that we not have that exchange through press releases. It doesn’t encourage a resolution to do that.”…


Being a parent with two kids that attend school in Middletown and who have learning disabilities, it angers me that Governor Christie lied to voters throughout this state while on the campaign trail, telling them that he supported and valued the state education system only to turn his back on it once elected by slashing over $800M worth of state aid to local school boards and declaring war on the teachers and their union.
It’s unfortunate that Middletown’s ruling party, lead by mayor Scharfenberger and his cronies, have decided to follow in Christie’s footsteps by demonizing teachers instead of looking for long term, common sense solutions on how to deal with rising property tax rates.
Level headiness with a keen eye towards the future is what is needed by elected officials in the state, as well as here in Middletown.
Instead of politicising the school board and the school budget for short term gains and political advantages, Scharfenberger and Co. should listen to Sean Brynes for once. He is the lone voice on the committee with practical budget experience and common sense enough to make proper decisions in regards to restructuring how government operates in Middletown.
He has very valid ideas that should be listened to, not ignored and then taken, like so many are by the mayor and his republican friends.

Leave a comment

Filed under budget cuts, Gov. Chris Christie, Mayor Scharfenberger, Middletown, Middletown Board of Education, MTEA, Ryan Fennell, school budgets, Sean F. Byrnes, Two River Times

Middletown Township Still ‘Crunching The Numbers’ As Budget Gap Widens

Excellent article written by Ryan Fennell of the TRT, the kid reports it straight with no spin and consistantly reports on important aspects of the Township Committee meetings without having to resort to press releases issued after the meetings are over.

By Ryan Fennell
The Two River Times

MIDDLETOWN – While no specifics have been released regarding the 2010 budget, the Middletown Township Committee intimated on Monday night that layoffs were imminent in order to bridge the estimated $4 million shortfall in revenue.

The Middletown Township Committee entered this year facing an approximate $4 million shortfall, which Committeeman Sean Byrnes now estimates to be closer to $6 million, in revenue for the 2010 budget. Since that time the Committee has hired a new CFO and consistently pledged to the township’s residents that it was “looking at everything.”

“We are now almost three weeks into April and we know as a Committee that we have a significant shortfall in revenue this year,” Byrnes said. “The news is only getting worse and as of right now I don’t think we’ve really executed on any plans. Our ability to see any kind of savings is hampered by the fact that time is passing.”

Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger said that he has been in contact with Governor Chris Christie’s chief of staff and has been assured that legislation is being crafted that would ease the situation for the township.

“He assured me that the ‘mayor’s toolbox’, so to speak, that will allow us to absorb some of these cuts is still in the process of being formulated. We’re hoping this will provide some relief and extensive policy out of Trenton that will allow us to get back on track.” Middletown resident Jim Grenafege was not satisfied with the explanation and challenged the committee to offer concrete solutions or information regarding the budget. “Its just week after week there is nothing concrete happening,” Grenafege said.

He asked that the committee provide numbers associated with proposals that have been offered by the committee that could potential cut the budget.

“We have a relatively new CFO and he’s still crunching the numbers,” Scharfenberger said. “We can’t quantify anything that’s been proposed when I don’t have the numbers to quantify it against. These are sound proposals. There’s no sense speculating.”

Grenafege charged that the committee was speculating with the proposals. “They’re speculation with no numbers associated with it. It’s disingenuous to make these proposals without saying and here’s what we expect to save.”

Township Administrator Anthony Mercantante said that there are concrete things happening regarding the budget. “We’ve discussed a lot of options for saving money. A lot of them are painful. A lot of them are painful to individual people. It wouldn’t be fair to speculate publicly about some of the things happening.” Resident Jeff Blumengold asked why the committee hasn’t at least started cutting the “low hanging fruit.”

Scharfenberger noted that Middletown operates on a workforce of approximately 340 employees which costs the township $872 per person, a low figure for a municipality it’s size.

“There’s not a lot of low hanging fruit,” Scharfenberger said.

Scharfenberger also pointed out that the Township experienced 15 retirements since January and could see as many as 20 by year’s end. Scharfenberger said that these retirements have affected the budget and eliminated areas to cut.

“We had no idea that was going to happen,” Scharfenberger said of the retirements. However, the Committee had expected and even encouraged its employees to retire in May 2009.

On May 18, 2009 the Committee unanimously adopted an ordinance entitled “Early Retirement Incentive for Eligible Township Employees.”

The ordinance encourages employees eligible to retire under the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) with the offer of health benefits upon retirement after 15 years of service with the township, lowered from 20 years of service.

According to the ordinance any employee who is eligible to retire who has 15 years of service shall have the entire cost of health benefits assumed by the Township of Middletown upon retirement. The ordinance has a “sunset provision” that sets December 31, 2010 as the expiration date.

“The process is the problem,” Byrnes said. “There is no process in place to get ahead of the things we’re talking about. We knew it was going to be bad. It’s very, very frustrating. I can’t fathom how we haven’t planned out for the problems we’re facing.”

“Now we will lay off people and those numbers are probably going to be bigger than they needed because we’re starting later than we should have,” Byrnes added.

“The silver lining in all the bad news we’ve been confronting is that people are starting to engage,” Byrnes said. “People seem to be paying more attention to what’s going on. That’s a good thing. Part of the problem of what we’re in now is people didn’t pay attention and that is the key to getting out of the very dire situation we find ourselves in.”

4 Comments

Filed under budget cuts, Budget Shortfall, Gov. Chris Christie, Jim Grenafege, Mayor Scharfenberger, Middletown, Ryan Fennell, Sean F. Byrnes, Two River Times

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

Letter: Is Middletown’s Mayor Attempting To Divert Bond Money Away From Sports Fields

The following letter was received in my email last night:

Middletown is engaged in a controversy over the installation of artificial turf fields, but the debate is indicative of a much larger issue with how our Township spends taxpayer dollars.

The Township took out a bond in 2006 to fund the turf fields, but the money has sat idle, accruing interest on repayment, because Middletown failed to reach consensus on where to locate the fields. During a number of Township Committee meetings, the Mayor, Administrator, and Township Attorney all emphatically stated that the bond could only be used for the rehabilitation of fields at Middletown parks. However, objections to this usage have recently intensified, prompting Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger to announce he would call off the field construction and divert the bond funds to pay for shortfalls in the Township budget. I have serious concerns about the Mayor’s new course of action.

First, the Mayor appears to be acting independently of the Township Committee. Our committee consists of five members, one of whom is selected as Mayor to lead public meetings and sign local legislation. Nowhere in Chapter 4, Article II of our Township Code, which outlines the duties of Mayor, does it give that person authority to make solitary decisions on funding. A vote of the full Committee is required.

My second concern is that the Mayor, Administrator, and Township Attorney have been lying to residents about the potential uses for the bond money. First, they insisted the money could only be used for the turf fields. Now, the Mayor wants to try and amend the ordinance so it can be used for other projects. If Mayor Scharfenberger has not been deliberately misleading us, he, at best, does not care enough to understand the rules on spending taxpayer dollars; at worst, he is incompetent.

Finally, I am concerned about using bond money to patch holes in Middletown’s budget due to shortfalls in state aid. A single bond will not fix the fiscal reality our township must face as a result of the national economic downturn. The Mayor must stop looking for quick, politically convenient, fixes and present to township residents a fiscally sound plan that does not place us further in debt. Perhaps it is time to stand up that Finance Committee that Committeeman Sean Byrnes keeps calling for. When will Middletown’s Mayor start to listen to the Committee, which represents all taxpayers, and stop acting alone?

Don Watson
New Monmouth NJ

1 Comment

Filed under artificial turf fields, Budget Shortfall, Finance Committee, letter to the editor, Mayor Scharfenberger, Middletown