Category Archives: Pop Warner

What Is Happening With The Bond For The Middletown Turf Fields?

On tonight’s agenda for the Middeltown Township Committee Workshop meeting there will be a discussion about capital improvement projects and existing bonds and what to do about them. It will be interesting to see what they decide to do with the bonds the town is sitting on, namely the bond that was issued to fund the artificial turf projects for Croydon Hall and Trezza Field.

If we can all remember back to this past January when residents of Lincroft teamed up with members of the Pop Warner Chargers football organization when they found out that the long promised field restoration for Trezza Field (the home of the Chargers) was not going to happen, instead the funds for the turf project at Trezza Field was going to be diverted to West Front Street Park,caused so much trouble for Gerry Scharfenberger and Pam Brightbill earlier this year that they decided to cancel the turf projects all together in April.

The sudden decision to cancel the turf projects left everyone stunned at the time and questioning what was going to happen with the $2.6 million bond that was issued to fund the projects. The bond’s language as written was very specific, the funds couldn’t be used for anything else other than field restoration.

The following audio clip contains comments made by Middletown Attorney Brian Nelson, Middletown Township Town Administrator Tony Mercantante and mayor Gerry Scharfenberger during Workshop meetings on February 1st and March 1st,and seems to confirm that. The audio documents what the three men had been saying about the bonded money that was to be used for the construction of turf fields prior to the sudden announcement that the field project was going to be cancelled and the bonded funds returned.

Fast forward now to the last Township Committee meeting held on July 19th.

Lincroft resident and founding member of the citizens group SONIC (which opposed the turf project at West Front Street Park), Mary Mahoney, addressed the Township Committee about the unused Turf Bond that was to be used for artificial turf fields at Trezza Field, West Front Street Park and Croydon Hall. She wanted to know what was happening with the bonded money,

was there any plans to use it for anything else, how much of it had been spent and why wasn’t it retired as of yet to save the township interest payments on it.

She seemed to have taken the the Township Committee and those that make the decisions on such things by surprise. Listen to it below:

About 1:10 into her comments CFO Nick Trasente is heard saying that the bond funds could be used for other facilities, used to pay down debt or retired, which is contrary to earlier remarks made by Township Attorney Brian Nelson and Scharfenberger, who had stated at earlier meetings and can be heard above in the 1st audio clip, that the bond had to be retired if not used for turf fields and couldn’t be used for anything else.

So, what are Gerry and the boys planning on doing with the funds from this bond? It seems that they are trying to figure out a way to apply it to the budget in order to decrease 14% tax rate increase in this years municipal budget that has not been adopted yet.

If this is a concern to anyone then you should attend tonights meeting at Town Hall, it starts at 8pm. Get there early for a good seat.

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Filed under artificial turf fields, Chargers, Gerry Scharfenberger, Lincroft, Mary Mahoney, Nick Trasente, Pop Warner, Sonic, Tony Mercantante, Trezza Field, Turf project, West Front Street

Questions Remain About the Sudden About Face On The Middletown Sports Field Issue

There are still many questions that remain and need to be answered when it comes to the sudden announcement that Gerry Scharfenberger made during Tuesday night’s Neighborhood Meeting at Croydon Hall.
It has become apparent based on an email I received that some are starting to ask those questions and want answers:

I’m sure many of you have heard the news, about the fate of the turf fields, that was announced at last night’s Neighborhood Meeting. There are many questions still unanswered about this decision:

1. The Neighborhood Meetings were billed as an event that “no formal action will take place”. The Mayor decided to take formal action by announcing this decision. I have announcements, below, that explain the purpose of the Neighborhood Meetings.These were taken from the Township website and the alert system that the Township has in place.

Neighborhood Meeting – Senior Center
3/23/2010 – 7:00:00 PM
The Township Committee will hold a Neighborhood Meeting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 23 At the Middletown Senior Center, 900 Leonardville Road, to give residents an opportunity to speak informally with township officials and staff about life in Middletown. Township Committee members, and representatives from the departments of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs; Planning; Police and Public Works are scheduled to attend. No formal action will be taken.


Location:
Middletown Senior Center
Croydon Hall
900 Leonardville Road

Leonardo, NJ 07737

Source:

http://www.middletownnj.org/html/EventDetails.asp?EventID=2f8b8140-7923-480e-9c2d-e1b80643d843&EventDate=2010-03-23

Neighborhood Meeting 3-22-2010
posted Monday, March 22, 2010 4:08 PM
Dear Resident:The next Middletown Neighborhood Meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 23rd at the Middletown Senior Center, 900 Leonardville Road. Neighborhood meetings are held annually to give residents an opportunity to speak informally with township officials and staff about life in Middletown. Township Committee members, and representatives from the departments of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs; Planning; Police and Public Works are scheduled to attend. No formal action will be taken. The last Neighborhood Meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 30th at the Tonya Keller Bayshore Community Center, 50 Bray Ave.

Source:

https://my.c3alert.us/middletownnj/home/welcome

2. At what public meeting did the Committee decide to return the bond? This is not a decision that can be made by the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, or any other Committee person. It must be decided in a public meeting with a vote by ALL Committee members. I believe that a bond ordinance must be have approval of at least 4/5 of the Committee to become effective. The question is, Can the Mayor legally announce this since no formal action was taken on his decision?

3. According to the by-laws of the Township, the Mayor is a member of the Committee and is appointed by the other members of the Committee. His sole functions are to lead Committee meetings and sign legislation that is passed by the Committee. I don’t believe that he has any other authority than that, besides what the other Committee members have. Any announcements, coming from the Township, should be with the approval of the whole Committee, not just one member of the Committee.

These questions need to be asked as well as:


– How much interest have WE paid over the past 4 years on this bond?
– How much has OUR bond counsel (Middletown GOP Chairman) charged US to sell the bonds and now buy them back?
– What other legal expenses are associated with the whole bond. beginning with the sale to retirement?
– Why isn’t the plan presented, by Mr. Vrabel, acceptable? Who determined this?

The sudden announcement of the cancellation of the turf projects at a neighborhood meeting that wasn’t suppose to be an official meeting where actions would be taken on any subject specific subject is troubling.
What really changed the collective mind of the Township to drop plans for the fields and when and with whom were theses plans discussed with? As the email stated, the Mayor doesn’t have the authority to act alone when making decisions regardless if the Town Administrator or others thought that the plan should be cancelled. This is a decision that would have had to be have been made during a formal meeting with every committee member present and from what I know that did not happen.
Middletown’s “shadow government” has once again crept in from the darkness and reared its ugly head.

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Filed under artificial turf fields, Asbury Park Press, Croydon Hall, Gerry Scharfenberger, Middeltown Township, Pop Warner, shadow government, sports complex, Tony Mercantante, Trezza Field

It’s Your Town Newsletter Volumn 2, Issue 6 For 3/15/20


This edition of It’s Your Town Newsletter covers the Middletown Township Committee meeting of March 15, 2010.

This was the meeting in which the members of the Pop Warner Chargers organization introduced their plan to the Mayor and those on the Committee, for the upgrade and expansion of Trezza Field.

It includes all of the ordinances and resolutions that were voted on or discussed by the Township Committee and the 20 page bill list to show Middletown residents how their tax dollars are being spent.

You can download your copy of the newsletter >>> Here

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Filed under bill list, Chargers, Its Your Town, Middletown Township Committee, Newsletter, Pop Warner, resolutions and ordinances

Lincroft Sports Complex Is Dead; Plans For Artificial Turf Fields For Croydon Hall and Lincroft Are Dropped.

At last night’s Middletown Neighborhood Meeting at the Middletown Senior Center at Croydon Hall a very interesting turn of events was announced by Gerry Scharfenberger, the plans for the installation of artificial turf fields in Lincroft and at Croydon Hall are being dropped.

There will be no sports complex built or field upgrades at West Front Street Park that met so much opposition from the residents group SONIC (Save Our Neighborhood’s Integrity and Character) and the Pop Warner Lincroft Chargers organization, and no upgrade for the field at Croydon Hall which is used by the Middletown Eagles Pop Warner team.

According to the Asbury Park Press article posted online late last night, Scharfenberger use the current economic conditions affecting the Township as the reason for why the turf field projects were being dropped. Scharfenberger is quoted as saying:

“…In a difficult budget year in which the township’s state aid has been cut by $1.3 million, 14 retiring employees will receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in parting costs, and snow removal expenses were at least $500,000 above normal, it makes no sense to also take on a fields project…I see no way to go forward with this… In terms of what had to go, this became something of a no-brainer.”

The article went on to state that Township Administrator Tony Mercantante said the $2.4 million bond that was originally issued for the project in 2006 will be returned to the lender.

So why the sudden change, why did the Scharfenberger and Mercantante drop the plans for the turf installations? You can’t tell me it was because of the sudden realization that the Township is facing a budget deficit of over $5 million and this was a prudent decision on the part of the Township Committee. The Township has known for weeks that it would not be receiving the same level of state aid as in years past and Scharfenberger, Mercantante and crew said that the $2.4 million that was bonded for the turf projects was already in the bank, waiting to be used and would have absolutely no effect on the current budget process.

I feel that the real reason why they decided to cancel plans for the turf fields was the embarrassment that they felt when confronted at last week’s March 15th Township Committee meeting by members of the Chargers organization and SONIC when they present a plan to the Township that clearly showed that a multi-sport field could indeed be placed at Trezza Field, the home of the Chargers for over 40 years as originally called for in bond ordinance, with no impact to wetlands that the Township based its decision on as a reason for not going ahead with the field upgrade.

If Tony Mercantante accepted the Chargers’ plan, he would have had to admit that the advice from the town’s engineers and other professionals was wrong. He would have had to essentially throw them under the bus, which would have lead to questions of competence and may have raised doubts about other projects around town that residents question.

I know that this announcement will upset some people, particularly the Middletown Soccer League and the Pop Warner Eagles; Middletown Soccer aligned themselves with the Township in pushing for the field upgrades at West Front Street and the Eagles who became the victims of the collateral damage inflicted on members of the Township Committee by SONIC and the Chargers in the fight against the sports complex at West Front Street.

It was never in dispute, the playing field of the Pop Warner Eagles at Croydon Hall was going to be upgraded as a multi-sports playing field as part of the Township’s turf project but Parks and Recreations Director Greg Silva made it clear during at meeting with the Chargers, that if they succeeded in their efforts to derail the West Front Street field upgrade then the upgrade at Croydon Hall would also be canceled as a result. So I guess he wasn’t lying.

While this is a clear victory for SONIC and those who questioned whether or not it was prudent for the Township to move forward with this turf project because of current economic conditions, the victory for the Chargers is somewhat less and not much of a victory at all.

With the bad blood and hurt feeling inflicted on the Township Committee by the Chargers, Trezza Field may never get the field upgrades that are so badly needed for the continued and future success of their program.

The Independent has a related story that should also be read.

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Filed under artificial turf fields, Chargers, Lincroft, Mayor Scharfenberger, Middletown Township Committee, Pop Warner, Sonic, sports complex, Tony Mercantante

Cody Vs. Brightbill; What Did Pam Have to Say About Trezza Field While Defending Herself ?


Here is the last audio clip that I have from March 15th Township Committee meeting that deals with the Pop Warner Chargers, Sonic and Trezza Field.

In this audio Clip you can hear Lincroft resident and Chargers supporter Jim Cody confront Committeewoman Pam Brightbill about what she had told those in attendance of a Pop Warner fundraiser in 2008 about upgrades that would be made to Trezza Field, the home of the Chargers.

Committeewoman Brightbill in trying to defend herself against accusations of improprieties and false statements becomes frustrated, at one point she threatens to have someone removed from the courtroom while her voice raises to a shrill.

The exchange between Cody and Brightbill was an act of classic showmanship on Cody’s part. It showed that when the heat is on, most of those on the Committee can’t take it.

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Filed under artificial turf fields, Chargers, Middletown Township Committee, Pamela Brightbill, Pop Warner, Trezza Field

What Did Tony Fiore Have To Say About Trezza Field?


Middletown Deputy Mayor Tony Fiore, was not able to attend the March 15,2010 Township Meeting but was able to participate via phone call from Orlando Florida while attending work related business.

His comments were made after the business portion of the meeting was finished, during the Committee comments portion of the meeting just before the floor was opened up to the public.

He agreed with much of what Committeeman Sean Byrnes had to say about COAH and the rezoning of the Avaya property in Lincroft then went on to address the concerns over Trezza Field.

At approximately 2:35 into the audio Fiore starts to address Resolution 10-121 (Resolution 10-121 was going to authorize CMX Engineering to finish design plans for the West Front Street sports complex and develop specs so that the project could go out for bid) and the reason why the Committee pulled if from of the agenda and did not vote on it.

At approximately 5:05 into the audio Fiore talks about how, if differences with the BOE can’t be worked out and if there was a possibility that some improvements could be done at Trezza Field then it could be done from the “…design from “OUR” engineers or the perspective of “OUR” professionals come through, we may have to go down that road…”

With that type of thinking in mind prior to Alan Vrable’s presentation and the many other people that spoke in opposition to the project, one would diffinately get the idea that no matter what plans or ideas residents came up with, Fiore and crew were not, could not or will not throw their professionals under the bus by stopping the work that would be going on at West Front Street.

But the question remains, what will the Township do about Trezza Field? Will they or wont they take the Chargers/Sonic design plan for Trezza Field seriously enough to stop sports complex from going forward at West Front Street and be redirected where it was orginally intended to be, at Trezza Field?

We should hear something soon.

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Filed under Chargers, Lincroft, Middletown Township Committee, Pop Warner, Sonic, sports complex, Trezza Field, West Front Street

Comments Made By Sean Byrnes During The March 15th Township Committee Meeting: The Budget, COAH And Trezza Field

When it came time for Committee comments after the business part of the March 15th Middletown Township Committee Meeting, Committeeman Sean Byrnes had a lot to say.

Sean Byrnes address his support of the efforts that Governor Christie was making towards potentially solving the State’s budget crisis and how he hoped that Middletown would be able to address it’s own budget problems. Byrnes went on the discuss the potential changes to the COAH laws and hoped that once COAH was redefined Middeltown would be able to zone back recent rezoned properties around town to their prior pre- COAH zoning, most noticably the Avaya property in Lincroft.

Byrnes then went on to address the issue of turf fields in town and his potential support to relook at the fesiblity of expanding Trezza Field, the current home of the Pop Warner Chargers, instead of supporting the planned sports complex at West Front Street that has been loudly opposed by the Chargers and the citizens group SONIC.

As you can imaging, Byrnes gained a rousing and vocal show of support for his comments by the members of the Chargers and SONIC that were in attendance.

His comments about Trezza Field start about 4 minutes into the audio clip below for those that are interested in hearing what Sean Byrnes had to say.

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Filed under COAH, Lincroft, Middletown Township Committee, Pop Warner, Sean F. Byrnes, Sonic, Trezza Field, West Front Street

Audio: Vrable Solves Middletown’s Problem During Township Committee Meeting

By now everyone that is interested in or effected by the proposed sports complex in Lincroft that the township wants to build is familiar with the events that transpired during the Middletown Township Committee meeting on March 15, 2010.

You know that the meeting was loud, raucous and at times on the verge of being out of control if you were lucky enough to be there. If not, I have a series of audio clips from the night that I will be sharing over the next couple of day that will let everyone know exactly what they missed.

The audio clip that I have posted is of Lincroft resident Alan Vrable, who was speaking on the behalf of both the River Plaza/ Lincroft Chargers Pop Warner Football team and SONIC (Save Our Neighborhood’s Integrity & Character).

Vrable presented a detailed, engineered plan to the Township Committee that show beyond a reasonable doubt that Trezza Field ( the home of the Chargers) could in fact be resurfaced and expanded into a multi-purpose sports facility with little impact on the wetlands, that Township engineers have given as a reason why Trezza Field could not be upgraded in favor of West Front Street Park.

This is the first of 6 audio clips that I will be posting between now and the weekend from Monday nights meeting.

The other clips include comments from Sean Byrnes, Tony Fiore and Jim Cody questioning Pam Brightbill, which isn’t to be missed. It was classic!!

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Filed under Alan Vrable, Chargers, Lincroft, Middletown Township Committee, Pop Warner, Sonic, sports complex, Trezza Field, West Front Street

APP Monday Night Follow-Up: Middletown Examining Residents’ Plan For Ballfields

I was happy to see that Kevin Penton and the Asbury Park Press wrote a follow-up article that appeared in print today about the events that transpired during Monday night’s Middeltown Township Committee meeting.

Today’s article gave a better depiction of the events that went down Monday night then the first article that was published yesterday.
In this article Penton has quotes from Township Administrator Tony Mercantante, who many feel is the real person behind the West Front Street field proposal.
In the article Mercantante is quoted as saying “If it fits, it fits, but that is yet to be determined.“, which was in reference to the multipurpose field, two baseball fields and 221 parking spaces depicted on the plan which was presented by Alan Vrable on behalf of the River Plaza/Lincroft Chargers Pop Warner Football team that plays it games at Trezza Field, to the Township Committee.
Vrable told Mercantante and the Township Committee that the plan for Trezza Field was based on the 2007 T&M Engineering wetlands study, the same study that the township used to determine that Trezza field was not a viable location for the field upgrade and which made the Township decide to build the sports complex at West Front Street instead.

The article also went on to state:

“Middletown’s analysis of the residents’ plan will include a cost estimate for earth disturbance so parking spaces can be added to Trezza Field, Mercantante said. The residents’ plan eliminates a playground and a basketball court that are currently at the site, he said.” …

And concludes with words from Mayor Scharfenberger about how the Committee would take a serious look at the plan and determine if the plan was a viable alternative or not.
On the surface you may want to take what Mercantante and Scharfenberger had to say at face value and give the the benefit of the doubt, but after thinking about the quotes I was left to think that this just may be lip service.
Mercantante didn’t seem convinced that the plan would work and seemed to question the fact that the plan as presented by Alan Vrable eliminated a playground and a basketball court in favor of parking.
Would eliminating a playground and a basketball court be considered a viable alturnative by Mayor Scharfenberger? I don’t know.
Also I would like to point out that in both of Kevin Penton’s articles on the meeting he quoted Deputy Mayor Tony Fiore who was not there but was on the phone from Orlando Florida attending a work related continuing education class, about how the closing down of CMX Engineering was just a little speed bump in the road and that it wouldn’t hold up the process of deciding about the installation of the fields.
But what stood out to me during Fiore’s comments wasn’t what he had to say about CMX but what he said about the field installations in general, which was that the Committee would listen to “OUR” engineers and “OUR” professionals when determining what would be the best location for the installation of turf fields.
With this all being considered, I wonder if Mercantante, Scharfenberger and Fiore meant what they said, because if they do except the plans that were presented on the behalf of the Chargers than they would be admitting that their engineering firm gave them bad advice or is incompetant and they would be throwing them under the proverbial bus if they don’t proceed with the exsisting plan for building the sports complex at West Front Street.

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, kevin penton, Lincroft, Mayor Scharfenberger, Pop Warner, sports complex, Tony Mercantante, West Front Street

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.”

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