Category Archives: sports complex

>More Turf May Come To Basie Field; Too Bad For Middletown

>It never ceases to amaze me how messed up Middletown is at times, with no problems at all it looks like Red Bank will be installing new turf fields by the end of year, paid for mostly through grants!

According to RedbankGreen.com the new fields will be installed at over at the Basie Fields complex.

It’s too bad Middletown screwed up it’s chance to have a a couple of new fields build in town last year with it’s assine idea to build a full fledged sports complex over at West Front St. Park in Lincroft, instead of upgrading Trezza Field in River Plaza and the field at Crydon Hall over in Leonardo.


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Note: This is a re-post from yesterday. Blogger was experiencing technical difficulty after a system upgrade and wiped out all posts after the 5/11

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Filed under artificial turf fields, Basie Field, Croydon Hall, Middletown NJ, Red Bank NJ, RedBankGreen.com, sports complex, Trezza Field

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.

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

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

Audio: Anthony Malone Scolds Pam Brightbill During Public Comments Portion of 3/15/10 Township Committee Meeting

You asked for it and now you have it!

Lincroft resident Anthony Malone scolds Committeewoman Pam Brightbill after she lost her cool while being questioned by Pop Warner Chargers support Jim Cody at last Monday nights Township Committee meeting.

Mr. Malone was very passionate and boisterous during his time at the podium and demanded respect be given to the residents as opposed to Committeewoman Brightbill telling speakers and those in attendance to be respectful of her and her colleagues sitting on the Dias.

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Filed under Middletown Township Committee, Pamela Brightbill, sports complex, 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

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

Middletown’s Committee Meeting Was Loud, Raucous and Uncomfortable At Times: Have Plans For Turf Fields Now Changed?N

I’ve been to plenty of Middletown Township Committee meeting over the past six years, most are sparely attended with little to no dissension among those in attendance or between those that sit on the Dias, last night was different. I haven’t seen it like that since the Township was rocked by the arrest of former Mayor Ray O’Grady, who was caught up in Operation Bid-Rig a number of years ago.

The courtroom was packed and people flowed out into the lobby, to say people were upset would be an understatement.

I am still getting my thoughts together on what transpired last night and will have more to say about it later. I saw this morning that the Asbury Park Press has an account of what happened last night online today. The article was written by reporter Kevin Penton and is somewhat accurate.

I say somewhat because you really had to be there to witness what happened yourself, it was loud, raucous and at times uncomfortable to watch.

I am posting Penton’s article below with a few pictures that I took placed in between:


MIDDLETOWN — Mayor Gerard P. Scharfenberger said Middletown needs to further question the firm, CMX Inc. of Manalapan, which told the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development on Friday that it intends to layoff all of its 196 employees by May 11.

Before the postponement, the committee was expected to vote on finalizing the engineering plans, and seeking permits and bids for the planned installations at Croydon Hall and West Front Street Park.

The West Front Street Park installation would not include lights or a concession stand, Scharfenberger told a standing-room-only crowd of more than 200 residents.

Many of the Lincroft residents — who have attended the public meetings at which the fields were discussed for several weeks — have said they believe those amenities would add traffic, parking congestion and noise to their neighborhood.

Committeeman Anthony P. Fiore, who participated in the meeting via a telephone connection from Orlando, Fla., said CMX’s departure only represents a “little speed bump in the road.”

“We weren’t completely blindsided,” Fiore said, referring to CMX’s notification last week.

Middletown officials had asked the company about its situation, he said.

“We were told things were status quo,” Fiore said.


A somewhat dramatic moment came when resident Allen Vrabel, standing at the podium during the public comments portion of the meeting, waved his hand towards the back of the jammed meeting room.

Before long, two people walked towards the front of the room and placed two large sets of plans on easels. Simultaneously, others handed out copies of the same plans to people sitting in the audience.

The plans show 221 parking spaces, a 200-foot-by-360-foot, multi-purpose field; a baseball field with 90-foot base paths and 225-foot foul lines; and a baseball field with 60-foot base paths and 200-foot foul lines at the current site of Trezza Field, where the Pop Warner Chargers currently play.


Township Administrator Anthony Mercantante has repeatedly said that Trezza field could not be part of the turf fields project because of wetlands concerns.

But Vrabel said that engineers hired by Lincroft residents and members of the Chargers organization, using a 2007 wetlands study by T&M Associates, were able to make the plan work at Trezza Field.

“These plans didn’t cost me $194,000, I can tell you that,” said Vrabel, who declined to say the firm that prepared the plans.

Township officials said they would study the plan.

“We are going to look at this very seriously,” Scharfenberger said. “We are going to see if this is viable.”

As I said, I’ll have more to say about what happened last night later, it was a lot to take in. But I think the Mayor and his fellow suporter may have had a change of heart last night after have their heads beaten in by Vrabel and others.

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Filed under artificial turf fields, Asbury Park Press, Lincroft, Middletown, Middletown Township Committee, Pop Warner, Sonic, sports complex