Category Archives: sports complex

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.


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


Reporter Dustin Racioppi from 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.”


Filed under CMX Engineering, Lincroft, Pop Warner,, 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.


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

CMX Engineering: Firm That Is Doing Work On Lincroft Sports Complex Tackled For a Loss; Shutting Down Operations As Of May 11th

Very courious development in the issue over the Lincroft Sports Complex, CMX Engineering, the firm that Middeltown hired to do the engineeering work and develope bidding specs for the turf field projects at West Front Street Park in Lincroft and Croydon Hall in Belford is going out of business as of May 11th this year and it has left many that oppose the field project scratching their heads.

Could the reason why the Township is so hell bent on ramming through the fields over residents concerns and comments to the contrary, be because they have a timeline with CMX to finish the intial work so that the sports complex can be placed out for bidding?

If so, why would the Township even hire a company that they new was going out of business to do this type of work in the first place ? After all Monmouth County knew back in January that CMX wasn’t going to be around long enough to finish work for them so they didn’t give them a contract to design intersection improvements at Memorial Drive and Evergreen Avenue in Neptune City and Bradley Beach.

There are many questions that need to be answered at Monday night’s Township Committee meeting and I know that people will be out in force that night looking for answers so the Mayor better have answers because it may turn out to be a “lynching”

Here is an excerpt from today’s Asbury Park Press on the closing of CMX Engineering:

“…In years past, the company was dogged by controversy.

In 1990, Stephen DePalma and the company were indicted on bribery charges. The state charged that DePalma and then-Woodbridge Mayor Joseph DeMarino paid $5,750 to a Carteret councilman in exchange for an engineering contract. Both DePalma and DeMarino were acquitted.

In 2005, the company announced that it would no longer make corporate political donations after it gave more than $875,000 to state- and county-level campaigns between 2000 and 2004.

In February 2009, founder Howard Schoor was sentenced to two years’ probation, 250 hours of community service, and a $7,500 fine after he admitted paying off an Ocean Township official.

Company officials have said Schoor has not been associated with the company on a daily basis since 1996. He retired from the firm in 2005.

Still, CMX has had a presence at the Jersey Shore for years and has contracts or provides engineering services in roughly a dozen municipalities in Monmouth and Ocean counties.

CMX and its predecessor formerly had extensive contracts with the Monmouth County government, but business was reduced to a trickle in recent years.

In January, the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders approved an $88,844 engineering contract with CMX to design intersection improvements at Memorial Drive and Evergreen Avenue in Neptune City and Bradley Beach.

The contract was never executed, a county spokesman said.

“We have been notified this was coming,” spokesman William K. Heine said. “There are some open purchase orders currently, and we are working with county counsel to determine what if any deliverables are due to the county to be paid for….”

Read the full article >>>Here


Filed under Asbury Park Press, CMX Engineering, Lincroft, Mayor Scharfenberger, Middletown, Pop Warner, Sonic, sports complex

What’s The Latest News On The Lincroft Sports Complex?

So what’s the latest news swirling around the proposed Lincroft Sports Complex? In each of this weeks editions of the Independent and the Two River Times are articles dedicated to the happens at the most recent Middletown Workshop Meeting that took place on March 1st. Both articles are well written and represents what took place pretty well.

The Independent focus was on the on going negotiations between the Board of Education and the Township over a shared service agreement that would allow the Pop Warner Football League to play games at Middletown High School South before getting into the meat and potatoes of the nights events, while the Two River Times jumped right into it.

Here are excerpts from each article:

The Independent Talks between the Middletown Township Committee and the Board of Education will reopen to discuss allowing local sports associations to use fields at Middletown High School South.

A preliminary design plan for West Front Street Park was placed on the Middletown Township website for the public to review. The existing soccer fields would be replaced with a synthetic turf field.

Mayor Gerard P. Scharfenberger and Deputy Mayor Anthony Fiore announced at the March 1 Township Committee meeting that they would be meeting with members of the board to discuss field usage on public school property.

“We sent a letter to the Board of Ed. today officially asking to allow the Pop Warner leagues to use High School South for their games,” Scharfenberger said. “I think that would go a long way to solve a lot of the problems and would be the best solution for all the parties involved.”

He added, “I think it’s a step in the right direction.”

The township has proposed a plan for West Front Street Park, off Crawfords Corner/ Everett Road, to replace the existing soccer fields with a synthetic turf field designed for football, soccer, field hockey and lacrosse to be used by the public and local sports associations.

The proposal also calls for the Croydon Hall Complex, located on Leonardville Road, to have its football field replaced with an artificial turf field. A total of $2.5 million in unspent recreation funds would be used for the two projects.

The letter reads, “Specifically, the Township would like to request that the River Plaza/Lincroft Pop Warner Football program be permitted to utilize the football field and associated facilities at High School South for their five to six annual home games that take place on Sundays. Practices and other activities would still be able to take place at their current field while the West Front Street filed is resurfaced with turf for use by other leagues, but the need to utilize lighting, a public address system and concessions is lessened.”

Laura Agin, Middletown Board of Education president, said negotiations are under way.

“We’ve worked with the Township Committee and with shared services,” Agin said on March 4. “We’ve had concessions with them about the fields, and I think we will continue to work with them.”

However, a group in the Jersey Shore Football League weighed in on the controversy at the March 1 meeting….

The Two River Times Controversy continues to swirl around a proposed plan by the Middletown Township Committee to construct a multi-purpose athletic field at the intersection of West Front Street and Everett Road in Lincroft.

Residents from the potentially affected area once again came out en masse to voice their opposition to the proposal as it currently stands and urged the committee to reconsider constructing the field at a different location.

However, this round of rhetoric included supporters of the proposal primarily from active Pop Warner families, athletes, coaches, and members of the Middletown Athletic Club.

The most telling message sent to the committee might have come from Kevin O’Reilly, Vice President of the River Plaza Chargers, whose future home has been an ongoing topic of conversation among the committee members, the board of education, and area residents but has not, until Monday night, included the River Plaza Chargers organization.

Middletown Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger opened the meeting by allowing those in attendance to speak to this issue but not before he addressed the crowd with an update from the committee’s perspective.

“We sent a letter to the Board of Education today officially asking them to allow the Pop Warner league to use High School South for their games. I think that will go a long way to solving a lot of the problems and be the best solution for all parties involved,” Scharfenberger said.

Deputy Mayor Anthony Fiore also offered an updated position on the issue.

“My position (at the previous meeting) was to find a way for River Plaza Pop Warner to play five or six games at High School South. From what I understand it’s not feasible to redo the facility at Trezza Field (the Chargers current home field). It’s my viewpoint, if we are able to work with the Board of Education and potentially make improvements to their field we would not have to have lights or a P.A. system at West Front Street,” Fiore said.

Fiore added that the idea would be that the Pop Warner teams practice at Trezza and play their games at High School South. Fiore also noted that the existing soccer fields at West Front Street would still be resurfaced and improved but without lighting and a public address system.

“I think that pretty much satisfies everything I’ve heard over the last month,” Fiore said.

Not according to O’Reilly.

The River Plaza Pop Warner league sent a letter to the Township Committee outlining eight needs of the league to continue operating regardless of its location. One of those needs was a fully functioning snack bar. Additionally as important were adequate restroom facilities.

According to O’Reilly, the Pop Warner league exists solely on the revenues generated by the operation of the snack bar of which High School South does not provide.

“I wish you people would speak to us because Middletown South doesn’t work,” O’Reilly said. “We play on Saturday, we play on Sunday, we play on Monday, and we also sometimes play on Wednesday and all of our revenue is from the snack bar.”

The money generated by the snack bar, which can range between four and seven thousand dollars each game day goes toward operational costs to run the league according to O’Reilly.

“To redo the helmets is thousands and thousands of dollars,” O’Reilly said….

So what have I heard over the past few days? As I said, it has been quite but here are a few things:
The meeting between the Mayor and Deputy-Mayor with the Board of Education on Thursday March 4th didn’t go as well as the Independent may have made it out to have mainly because the Pop Warner Chargers have made it loud and clear that playing football at High School South would not benefit their organization at all.
Contrary to what Mayor Scharfenberger and others who represent the Township say a wetlands study of Trezza Field, the home of the Pop Warner Chargers, was conducted back in June of 2007 by the Township’s engineering firm T&M and it seems to confirm everything that the football people have been saying all along, that Trezza Field can be expanded and resurfaced as originally planned. The Chargers, with help from their own engineer, came up with a new site proposal for Trezza Field and shared it with Mayor Scharfenberger earlier in the week. The site proposal will be introduced to the Committee Monday night at the next scheduled Committee Meeting.
And members of SONIC are still gathering petitions signatures against the sports complex to be presented at Monday night’s Township Committee meeting. SONIC members will be out in force that night to once again voice their concerns.


Filed under Football, Lincroft, Mayor Scharfenberger, Middletown Township Committee, Pop Warner, Sonic, sports complex, the Independent, Two River Times, West Front Street

Middletown It’s The Biggest Newsletter Yet !

The latest issue of “It’s Your Town” Newsletter is now available and believe it or not, it’s the largest yet at 22 pages! This issue details the happenings at the March 1st Middletown Township Workshop Meeting.

Due the size of the crowd in attendance the Mayor moved the meeting to the courtroom to accommodate the large number of people that showed up to express their mostly displeasure with the plans to build a multi-field sports complex at the corner of West Front Street and Crawfords Corner Rd in Lincroft.

Some of the highlights included in the newsletter are:

  • A letter written by Jeff Blumengold, a member of SONIC, that read for inclusion into the record.
  • Pop Warner Chargers Vice President Kevin O’Reilly stated 8 things that would be needed to make the sports complex work.
  • Committee Comments that express feelings behind the sports complex
  • And numerous Ordinances and Resolutions that were introduce for discussion

Your can read all about it Here to see what you missed.

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Filed under Its Your Town, Middletown, Newsletter, Pop Warner, Sonic, sports complex, workshop meeting

The John Curley/Lincroft Sports Complex Conspiracy Theory

I never put much thought into the validity of various conspiracy theories; for the most part these theories are generally not based on facts or have only a loose affiliation with them.

One such theory has recently developed around the controversial Lincroft Sports Complex issue thanks to members of the River Plaza/Lincroft Chargers Pop Warner football organization.

The theory revolves around the fact that Trezza Field, the home of the Chargers for over sixty years is located next to Shadow Lake Village, an age restricted community for those over the age of fifty-five and the fact that Monmouth County Freeholder John Curley moved into the community in 2008 just before his first attempt at running for Freeholder.

It is believed that many of the seniors that live at Shadow Lake are unhappy with the field being located so close to the complex and that the lights and noise from PA system are a nuisance that can no longer be tolerated.

It is believed that Curley used his political influence in some way to pressure the Middletown Committee to give up its plan to refurbish Trezza Field by threaten that the all important senior vote from Shadow Lake would not be there for them come November if the Chargers were not moved from Trezza Field.

Here’s some history that lead to the theory:

The Chargers were promised a number years ago by the Middletown Township Committee that their home, Trezza Field, would be re-surfaced with artificial turf and in 2006 a bond was issued that stated as much, but somehow along the way plans changed.

Instead of re-surfacing Trezza field as promised the Township decided that it would build a multi-sports complex in Lincroft, off of Middletown-Lincroft Rd. The complex was to have light towers, bleachers, snack bar, PA system and ample parking to accommodate hundreds of cars, much like the currently proposed and controversial complex planned for West Front Street.

But the plan met with so much anger and resistance from the residents in the area, that it lead to the town dropping the plan and the election of Patrick Short, the first Democrat elected to a committee seat in Middletown in 20 years.

During the three years that followed the Chargers continued to press the Mayors of Middletown to have their field taken care of because it’s condition continued to worsen. Middletown in the mean time hired a consulting firm to develop a master plan for it Parks and Recreation Department.

When completed, the Master Plan had made a number of recommendations as to how to better utilize the use current parks and sport fields throughout the Township. The plan called for the creation of two multi-use artificial turf fields that could be used for football, soccer and la cross and suggested that the Township enter into mutual use agreements with the Board of Education to build at least one of these fields on BOE property and to share the use of the newly turfed fields at both township high schools. But yet again no real plan for Trezza Field.

Shortly after the plan was adopted Mayor Brightbill met with the Chargers and told them not to worry, that all of the concerns would be addressed and taken care of, the Chargers would have a new field to play on soon.

In May 2009, the Township hastily approach the Board of Ed with a plan to possible build two multi-sports fields on the grounds of Thompson and Thorne Middle Schools. After lengthy negotiations between the BOE and Township talks broke down in October. The BOE felt that the Township was not addressing their concerns over usage and maintenance while the Township felt that the BOE was not negotiating in good faith.

It was at this time that the Township Committee voted unanimously drop the idea of mutual usage of fields with the BOE and announce their intention to build a multi-use sports complex on the corner of West Front St. and Crawford Corner Rd. in Lincroft, on the grounds of West Front Street Park, which has lead to the current controversy.

And now instead of having Trezza Field re-surfaced, the Chargers are being told that they will have to move from their beloved field of over sixty years to the new complex at West Front Street Park due to lack of space and wetlands issues, even though the new complex will not have the amenities that they feel are vital for the continued expansion and success of their organization.

As conspiracy theories go this one is somewhat plausible but highly unlikely. It seems to have come from that fact that members of the Chargers organization are frustrated and angered over how the feel repeatedly lied to and betrayed by the majority that sit on the Township Committee, that have promised field upgrades years ago and have not delivered on those promises.

And when I asked my friends at Shadow Lake if they had heard of any rumors floating around the Lake about opposition to the Trezza Field upgrades they had this to say… “Nobody at the Democratic Club Steering Committee meeting had any issues with the sports field, and no one had heard any rumblings about disaffected residents. In fact, people seemed to agree that a bit of noise during some afternoons in the summer was just kids having a good time and something that came with the neighborhood. So there very well may be some folks who are grousing about the games, heck, somebody is *always* complaining about something around here. But it is surely not some kind of organized protest.”

So it seems that Freeholder John Curley and the residents over at Shadow Lake are not behind some master conspiracy theory to pressure the Middletown Township Committee into not renovating Trezza Field (much to my chagrin).

At this point it seems that the reason for not putting artificial turf over Trezza Field is based entirely on the recommendations of the Township’s Master Plan which recommended the installation of synthetic fields for multi-use complexes that could accommodate many, not just a football field that in the eyes of the Township could not be expanded.

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Filed under conspiracy theories, John Curley, Pop Warner, Shadow Lake Village, sports complex