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Committee Members Split on Turf Field Plans

Four votes needed for town to go to bond.

While the three Republicans on the Township Committee are eager to pursue plans to fund and build a turf athletic field at , Democrats urged caution.

Republican Springfield Mayor Ziad Shehady introduced the turf field into a discussion about the Recreation Department at the Township Committee’s goal setting meeting earlier this month. Shehady urged immediate action on the proposed field.

“Time is of the essence,” Shehady said. “It is realistic to have it operational for the fall sports season.

Dayton’s football team currently uses Union township’s athletic fields for its home football games. Shehady and his fellow Republicans said that Dayton football could play their 2012 home games at a home Turf field if they act fast.

“According to our engineer [Sam Mardini], it can be done if we move quickly,” Republican Deputy Mayor Jerry Fernandez said, adding that work would have to start in April or May.

Mardini said that the timeframe was realistic assuming the state’s Department of Environmental Protection grants necessary permits in a timely manner. He estimated building the turf field would take six to eight months.

Shehady said that four Township Committee members needed to vote in favor of the $3 million bond for the project. Judging from comments from the two Democrats on the five-person committee, the fourth vote is in doubt.

“I don’t feel comfortable bonding three plus million without a referendum showing the public is on board with it,” Democratic Committee member David Amlen said.

Democrat Rich Huber, the committee’s representative to the Recreation Committee,  said the town should look to neighboring Cranford as a model. Cranford recently installed a turf field with a combination of public and private funds.

“They charge teams to play on it,” Huber noted. He added that he was unsure about the turf field, and that he would know where he stood by the next meeting.

Plans for building a turf field at Jonathan Dayton High School have been proposed for several years. The project gained momentum at the end of 2010 beginning of 2011 when the Springfield School Board agreed to a with the township government wherein the BOE turned over land to the Township Committee to be sold to partially pay for the field.

Amlen characterized the actions as hasty and said that more investigation was needed.

“Prior to when I joined the committee, there was a rush to judgment on this issue,” he said.

The Democrat majority , citing numerous legal complications for the land swap arrangement. 

“We wanted to find out if it could be done before we put it in front of the public and make false promises,” Amlen said. 

Leila February 23, 2012 at 06:05 AM
Mr. Dzikowski, No where in any of my postings have I called anyone a liar. I have only replied with information that has been factual and not an opinion as you so say. My aim is not to offend anyone, only to find out information and have a true discussion. Project 2012 - Why? "Past politicians spew rhetoric but lack bold and courageous leadership..." what does that mean? Why would this be an introduction to a proposal of a turf field? Is accusing people of incompetence a nice thing to do? "Springfield residents deserve better and I will not settle for less"... come again? at whose expenses?..."we will fall behind our counterparts"? Who are these people we are falling behind from? ...."a desire by several hundred residents has been shown for the project"... I have seen the petition and it looks at best a couple of hundred but it would be nice to see the paper/actual. "Public schools are in fierce competition with private schools"... - oh, no! are you kidding me? Public schools have a bigger budget than private schools! "As of 2008, there were over 150 turf fields installed in NJ"... Where are these fields? Public schools or parks? What?? Who are the 2 towns adjacent to us that don't have turf? ..."half of the school districts in the County have a turf"... which ones?
Leila February 23, 2012 at 06:08 AM
Now, please give me the drum rolls for this one: the report goes on saying that Springfield does not even have its own most basic athletic complex... our fields are unable to meet the demand and lack the most basic necessities for sports events, our fields all require more attention by engineers than they have been receiving, to inspire excellence in sports kids should be given a sports complex, hundreds of people are leaving Springfield and they go to neighboring communities; the field will bring business to the downtown - What? Are these kids playing all year round? What happens in the off season? Where does the information about people leaving Springfield because of its field conditions come from? The BOE spends $100K annually on field maintenance, then how come the fields are a mess? Where are the engineers that will be working on the new turf field? Are we hiring new ones, because from the wording of the report the ones we have currently aren't doing the job? And if they are staying on board, how can we trust they will do the job?
Leila February 23, 2012 at 06:13 AM
"Springfield Environmental Commission has not formally evaluated the project to be able to draw any conclusions"... is it nice to discredit them? What is being accomplished here? Yet, the report says that Ridgewood has conducted 'themselves with the utmost professionalism"... has Springfield formally met with Ridgewood? And why? OMG, this is so disheartening! but what, Springfield Environmental Commission hasn't handle themselves in a professional manner? Everyone keeps on saying they are sure the turf is safe! But, has anyone actually come and done a study, and a professional survey of our area? If so, where is such report filed? I have seen a whole lot of blah blah blah on this report and that is all that it is Mr. Dzikowski. BTW, I think this is my last and final posting. I think I have accomplished my goal. I presented a lot of questions and opportunities for anyone to reply, but instead, I got many unsupported accusations. I truly hope that everyone gets a chance to present their opinions -- not just in favor and not just against -- but equally, at the next meeting.
Leila February 23, 2012 at 06:25 AM
Oratory is a private school and I don't live in Summit and my concern is what is going on here not one, two or three towns over. We should not have to compare ourselves to anyone. I think for the most part, we have a beautiful town, with natural beauty and we should try to preserve it. Can you imagine if Baltsurol caught the artificial turf bug?
Michael A Dzikowski February 23, 2012 at 12:48 PM
why shouldn't you care if its a health concern about the children and when others bring up up towns its not for comparing purposes ....No can't imagine (it has turf in several small areas already) - whats worst are the proven chemicals there that are actually linked to cancer....and cause a threat. (Go read up on that for a while) As for the other three postings that came thru my phone but are not up here on this site - I have no idea what you are talking about. You rambled on about reports...I honestly could nt make any sense of it....Anyway good luck at the meeting and I 'm glad you achieved what you wanted ...

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