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Turf Field Bond Ordinance Passes Unanimously

Concerns, particularly regarding safety, remain; officials assure public they will address them.

The bond ordinance for the synthetic turf field needed four votes to pass. It got five.

All five members of the Township Committee voted in favor of pursuing a $3.4 million bond to fund the athletic fields proposed for in front of a town hall meeting room overflowing with Springfield residents.

Democrats Rich Huber and Dave Amlen, who had respectively expressed skepticism about and opposition to the proposed turf field at the , explained their change of hearts before the vote. 

“If this passes, it will be a field for the whole Township,” Committee member Rich Huber said.  “The recreation department and the Dayton Athletic Department will run the field. It’s not just a football field. It’s not just a soccer field. It’s everything.”

Amlen, who provided the sole dissenting vote in the first hearing on the bond ordinance, said that voluminous research about artificial turf and the proposed facility’s impact on flooding in the area convinced him to support the project.

“Two weeks ago, I was the Grinch who stole Christmas,” Amlen joked. He said that after reading 30-40 studies on the health implications of turf fields, he felt more comfortable supporting the field, with the caveat that an independent commission supervise the field’s implementation. In addition, he said that learning that the proposed field could help mitigate flooding in the area also factored seriously into his decision.

Lastly, he related how, in conversation, a friend had asserted the new field would bring “unity of community,” a phrase he would return after his vote in favor of the bond ordinance.

Township engineer Todd Hay said he had studied Summit and other nearby municipalities with turf facilities. Mayor Ziad Shehady emphasized that the night’s vote was not about technical aspects of the field, but rather for pursuing a method of funding it.

Despite Shehady’s admonition, residents brought up concerns about potential toxic materials used to build turf fields. Other residents said that the school system’s academics needed more money and attention than athletics and accused township officials of ignoring residents whose homes were damaged and destroyed during tropical storm Irene.

That last charge was effectively rebutted by Shane Ronan, a Marion Street resident whose home was devastated by flooding.

“There’s nothing the town can do right now to improve the quality of life for my family than what’s on that board,” Ronan said, gesturing towards the draft sketch of plans for playing fields for the high school.

Following the vote, supporters of the turf field expressed excitement and optimism about the project.

“I could not be happier for the community,” Phil Iuliano, one of the founders of the pro-turf group the Springfield Athletic Turf Field Association, said. “It gives me such pride to be involved with such tremendous individuals and see their dedication.

 

The Voice of Reason March 04, 2012 at 06:35 PM
A sad day for springfield taxpayers.
turf March 04, 2012 at 08:00 PM
First of all I have had many poor encouters with disrespectful senior citizens but in no way will I ever let those select encounters be reprsentative for the group as a whole. You are absolutely right that they deserve respect but they also should give it out. You are also jumping down the throats of kids, but they are KIDS! They make mistakes so leave them alone. As for the turf field, I was a member of the state championship soccer team in 2010. Say what you want about this being a waste of money but sports offer a sense of pride and community for this town that if I'm brutally honest is lacking. We are nothing compared to Millburn Summit and Westfield because we take no pride in our town. Still, I have never been more proud then the day we won that championship and I looked up to the stands and saw hundreds of people from our community supporting us in our pursuit of history. Of course this is a want and not a need, no one is disputing that, but why should we have to play all of our home football games at Union high school? Its called "home" for a reason. If this towns football program hadnt been resurrected and injected new life and vigor into this community, i'm not so sure we wouldn't have abandoned sports altogether. Sports Are important, if you don't believe that then why does our state University take financial losses in virtually every sport. If even one kid gets a college degree from sports it is worth it. Support your kids and the community.
The Voice of Reason March 04, 2012 at 08:05 PM
I am in favor of supporting our kids-the right and responsible way! A disservice has been done to the Springfield taxpayer. Mayor Shehady and the town council have caved-in to a small representation of Springfield’s taxpayers. Why? Who knows. Were they like a kid in a toy store that just had to have that new toy? Or were they afraid to speak and vote against a loud and vocal mob? I believe it was the latter. My conclusion is partly based on Amlen’s comment that he was the Grinch that stole Christmas. And he changed his vote. That disgusts and concerns me. If Amlen is like the rest of the council, the taxpayer is in trouble. I went to the council meeting on 2/28 intending to speak about the unnecessary tax about to be imposed on us. I am in favor of a place for our kids to play, I want a field. But not an increase in taxes, no matter how small for something that is not a necessity. Save the increase in taxes for a safe, secure and clean Springfield. I have to say that I was intimidated by the mob in front of and inside town hall. I’m sure others were. I didn’t speak. I stood there in disgust of the people that I voted for and left. I’m a registered republican and angry.
The Voice of Reason March 04, 2012 at 08:06 PM
I’m sure Shehady would like to meet with me and Krauss will cordially invite me to go somewhere. It is too late for their politics. They have all shown their true colors. I am an older Springfield resident who will be on a fixed income very soon. The Mayor and council have not represented me and older people like me properly. It happened with the sewer issue and it happened here again. Instead of “SRINGFIELD KIDS DESERVE A TURF FIELD” signs should read “SPRINGFIELD RESIDENTS DESERVE RESPONSIBLE GOVERNMENT.” Do you think Gov. Christie is going to increase our state aid because our kids deserve a turf field and we can’t pay for our obligations? Gov. Chirstie is going to cut property taxes 10% over the next few years. How are we going to pay for our necessary services? Are we going to lay off government workers? That in and of itself is a failure of our Mayor and council. If you are dissatisfied with the vote to increase our taxes to pay for the field, write to our Mayor and town council. Then write to our Assemblymen and our Senators. Let them know how dissatisfied you are with our government.
MJ March 10, 2012 at 01:12 PM
51% of my tax bill goes to the school system. How much more do you really need? It seems that all the taxes payers need to be ready to pay more taxes. I would like the school to have a nice field, but on the backs of people that have to work 2 jobs to just pay taxes in this town. The TC really did an outstanding job on this one, as a matter of fact give yourselfs a raise for the good job. Hey got a better idea, why not put a toll booth on Morris and Springfield roads to pay for it.

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