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Recreation Board Recommends Plan For Memorial, Sherry Fields

The plan would make the fields more usable but may cost taxpayers almost $3 million.

Members of the Washington Township recreation board recommended Monday that the council approve a plan to renovate with artificial turf, new lights and additonal parking.

Recreation Director Judy Monocky said the board had decided to support a plan which would replace the sod currently at the site with artificial turf while removing one of the two baseball fields. Memorial Field would also have additional diagonal parking spaces along School Street as well as new lights, bleachers and a walking path around the perimeter.

To make up for the lost baseball diamond, the board also supported a plan to add lights to Sherry Field, making it usable for older boys' games at night.

"For the safety and well-being of every child participating in our sports and recreation programs, we need to move forward with a multipurpose turf field," Monocky said.

Officials had mixed reaction to the plan, which board members estimated would cost about $2.3 million for Memorial Field and $359,000 for Sherry Field. Councilman Fred Goetz said he wanted more information about drainage, field scheduling and the cost of grass fields before making a commitment for artificial turf.

"I think it would be an injustice to the taxpayers to just jump into a $3 million project without knowing what the alternatives are," Goetz said.

Residents urged the council to make a decision soon. Scott Spezial said netting which sticks up from the sod at Memorial Field poses a danger to children playing there.

"We do want something done swiftly," Spezial said. "It is a safety issue."

Councilman Joseph D'Urso said he supports making changes to the field, but agrees they need some more information because of the high costs.

"A lot of people want it, and I'm totally for improving that field," D'Urso said. "It absolutely needs it. But in these times, you need to do everything the right way."

Councilman Steve Cascio said he will have more answers for some of the questions by the council's next meeting, when they may vote on hiring an engineer for the project.

B@B April 24, 2012 at 11:37 AM
Between James Kourgelis and Scott Spezial, the Township is held in a stranglehold by unelected, self-styled dictators. In case no one has noticed, our town is rife with foreclosed houses and others where it's clear that the owners can no longer afford to keep them up. There are households where one or both breadwinners have lost jobs. There are people forced to sell because they can no longer afford their homes. And Mr. Spezial wants to spend $3 million in taxpayer money on sports fields???? Has he been asleep since 2008???
bill thomson April 24, 2012 at 02:22 PM
Has anyone taken a look at the streets in the Township, is not public safety more important than a baseball field.
B@B April 24, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Anyone (and I know the Township is a staunchly Republican town) who tends to rail against government spending and doesn't speak out against this unconscionable squandering of taxpayer money during hard times is nothing but a hypocrite. I know youth sports are important, but asking taxpayers to shell out for "state of the art" ball fields during tough times is just too much. There are many children on my block. They ride their bicycles, they play basketball in the street and play in their yards. And they are happy, well-adjusted children. Youth sports are all well and good, but is the obsession with them in the Township really about the benefit of the children? Or the benefit of the recreation commission? Or about parental dreams of athletic scholarships?
Kelly Van Rijn April 24, 2012 at 09:38 PM
Maybe instead of raising taxes (again), the twp could forgo hiring new cops when some of the older ones retire. These guys make in excess of over $100K a year, money that could be spent instead on new fields without continually saddling the taxpayer with more and more taxes.
concerned parent April 25, 2012 at 02:25 PM
Mr Thomson, please look into this further - has nothing to do with baseball or a baseball field. This has to do with football and lacrosse, baseball is a seperate entity and not part of town recreation. They(lacrosse and football) would be fine if baseball didnt exist in this town.
WT Dad April 25, 2012 at 06:48 PM
This kind of expenditure should be a referendum that all town residents should vote on. I can't belive one resident is in favor of laying off cops in favor of a turf field. Have people lost their minds? I have children too, and have played on Memorial field as well. There is no safety hazard, that is nonsense. Laying off cops is a real safety hazard. Wake up!
Steve Kohlreiter April 25, 2012 at 07:33 PM
How the heck did we get from 1.8 mil to 3 million? Are they completely out of their minds?
resident April 26, 2012 at 01:59 AM
The suggestion is not to lay off police but to reduce the force through attrition. A huge difference. What we need in this town is an independent finance group to review budgets, and spending patterns. Regular reporting to the residents comparing actual spending to budgeted spending is a fiduciary responsibility of the council.
Barbara Finnigan May 03, 2012 at 12:08 PM
Adding artificial turf and lights to Sherry Field is rediculous. The area is already a C 1 wetlands which is being continually filled in by the town to make a wider field and parking area. This problem has been brought to the town meetings with little response. It is a noted area for severe flooding and adding artificial turf will take away the little run-off area left. The residents of the entire area along the Brook will just have more flooding on their properties, if this is allowed. Instead of spending money on more fields, let's spend the money on trying to save the value of investments of the residents and town.

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