Category Archives: West Front Street

>The Issue of Artificial Turf Fields In Middletown Was Officially Put To Rest With Resolution 10-310

>Last night’s Middletown Township Committee meeting brought the official end to the artificial turf field issue. The committee voted 3-1 to approve Resolution 10-310, which authorized that the unused bonded money that was meant for the installation of two artificial turf fields at West Front Street Park and Croydon Hall, be used instead to pay down existing bond debt.

In the audio clip below Committeewoman Pam Brightbill discusses why she reluctantly voted to approve the resolution, after which you can hear why outgoing Committeeman Sean Byrnes voted against it.

http://www.archive.org/flow/flowplayer.commercial-3.2.1.swf

The one curious thing about Resolution 10-310 is the fact that it is the only resolution that was discussed last night that has not made it’s way onto the Township’s website, for some reason it is missing. I am wondering if it has anything to due with the potential controversy that may surround it.

The controversy being that the original bond that was issued in 2006 which allocated funding for the turf fields specifically stated that these funds could not be used for any other purpose other than recreation, and with the nature of bond issues those funds cannot be used for the purpose offsetting operational budgets.

Using these bonded funds to pay off debt may not be legal,so until the resolution is made available to the public we’ll just have to wait to see how the Township intends to do this.

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Filed under artificial turf fields, Croydon Hall, Middletown Township Committee, Pamela Brightbill, resolutions and ordinances, Sean F. Byrnes, Turf project, West Front Street

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

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

What Were They Saying Before The Decision To Cancel The Sports Complex

I went back to my archivist to see if he could grabbed me some audio clips of what everyone had to say about using the bonded funds for the artificial turf fields for other uses.

He sent me 5 clips of Township Attorney Brian Nelson,Township Administrator Tony Mercantante and Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger stating that the bond money has to be used for recreation or turf fields. These clips are from Committee meetings on February 1st, March 1st and March 15th .

Nelson and Mercantante address a person’s question concerning whether or not the bond for the turf fields could be appropriated for other use during the February 1st meeting.
Scharfenberger adds his two cents in the following three sound bites, the first two of which are from the March 1st Township Committee Workshop meeting where he is heard saying that the money for the turf fields could not be used for other projects but could be appropriated for a different facility. He later stated that the turf fields were part of Green Acres and there for needed to be discussed at an official public meeting that would be scheduled for the end of March.

The last clip is from the March 15th Township Committee meeting and is of Mayor Scharfenberger announcing that the resolution that would give the go ahead for CMX Engineering to finalize plans and proceed to mark up project bidding specifications for the sports complex at West Front Street was being pulled, but they were going to move ahead with the field at WFSP anyway just not with all the amenities.
Then all of a sudden at the informal March 23th Neighborhood Meeting at Croydon Hall, Gerry Scharfenberger announced that himself and those members of the Township Committee that were in attendance that evening came to a consensus decision to cancel the turf project all together due to concerns over state aid figures that he had just been informed of, and because of this the Township would recall the bond and return the money to the lender.
Using the decline in state aid as a cover story for cancelling the turf projects was just a convenient excuse on Scharfenberger’s end. Both he and Pam Brightbill, had been telling everyone for months prior to the meeting that the bonded funds for the turf fields had no impact on the budget and based on the article that appeared in the Independent, the Township knew a week earlier about the state aid cut, which they had been talking about for the past few Committee meetings anyway.
So will the audio shine anymore light onto the shady dealing that go on down at Town Hall? Not really, but they do give a little bit of insight into the thinking of for what and how the money that was bonded for the turf fields in 2006 could be used for even if it was contrary to the actual language of the bond ordinance.

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Filed under artificial turf fields, Brian Nelson, CMX Engineering, Gerry Scharfenberger, Middletown Township Committee, Neighborhood meetings, the Independent, Tony Mercantante, West Front Street

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