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Haddonfield Commissioners Meet Monday after a Public Spat Last Week

Meeting agenda attached.

The Haddonfield Board of Commissioners will met Monday for a work session just four days after a heated meeting in which two out of three commissioners pounded tables and raised their voices at each other.

The outburst, which is not typical in this historic borough founded by Quakers on the principal of consensus, revolved around to install artificial turf on a field the borough owns on the campus. The turf project is part of a $1.06 million effort to resurface the borough field, and the adjacent high school football stadium field.

The borough's contribution to the effort is contingent on half of the $1 million being raised by residents in a private fundraising drive and $150,000 in funds that have already been approved by the borough school board.

about details of the effort, including possible environmental impact, that may or may not have been provided to the borough. There was also a dispute over whether the Turf Field Committee, the group raising private money for artificial turf, has represented itself as a group sponsored by the borough.

"It's very clear the information and documentation was not provided to the public," Kasko said after the meeting. "He can pound his fist all he wants, call me a lair and say it's not true, but the facts speak for themselves."

Kasko said the Turf Field Committee promised to provide details about the environmental impact of installing artificial turf and other background documents. Borden said they "absolutely did that!" while pounding his hand on a table during a commissioners meeting Thursday.

Kasko and Borden bickered several times during a nearly two-hour meeting last week before the both raised their voices and pounded a table to make a point.

Mayor Tish Colombi, the borough's third commissioner, Haddonfield's highest elected officials, sat between the two. She said she this was a first in 28 years as a commissioner.

"We've had disagreements, but I've never seen a commissioner raise their voice during a public meeting," Colombi said.

Borden also had several other testy exchanges with the six people who remained for the last hour of the meeting. The former courtroom where regular meetings are held, was full at the beginning of the meeting for the induction of five new volunteer firefighters.

Mary Fagan a Merion Avenue resident peppered Borden with questions about the $356,000 turf funding commitment. Fagan said she felt like the commissioner used a "bait and switch" by stating they want to use money raised from a borough open-space tax toward the potential public purchase of the nearly 19-acre Bancroft site next to the high school on Kings Highway East.

Fagan said the resolution the commissioners passed last month for the turf-field funding stated the $356,000 could come from the open-space tax fund. The commissioners statement about using the funds for Bancroft came before a referendum to renew the tax for another five years. Residents resoundingly approved the referendum.

"The resolution includes the possibility that you would use open-space trust funds for existing fields," Fagan said.

"We didn't say we were going to do that," Borden shot back. "We said we were going to take a look at it, with other public sources."

"It leaves open the possibility that the funds would be used to turf the fields," Fagan said.

"It does, yeah," Borden said.

"That's counter to the statement of intention."

Borden said using the open-space trust funds for the turf field would only likely happen if a Bancroft deal was dead.

"If there is no Bancroft deal then the open-space trust funds would be available."

Another resident, Janice Hallahan, pressed Borden and the commissioners on the notification on the vote for the turf field funding. Finally, looking frustrated, Hallahan said I actually voted for you in the last election.

Borden countered.

"Please don't vote for me again."

Tonight's meeting is on the second floor of the Municipal Hall. Commissioners don't vote on resolutions or ordinances at work sessions, but may come to conclusions on matters of public policy. The decision to support the turf field funding was made in a work session eight days before an action meeting on May 22.

Brian Kelly June 19, 2012 at 03:42 PM
After watching a Haddon high school baseball game, I wondered how long ago it was since Radnor field's scoreboard actually worked. When I talked to the game's umpire he told me scoreboard hadn't operated in at least 3 years. The tennis and basketball courts behind Radnor field for the residents of that area fell into such disrepair they had to be torn down. What a disgrace. The neglect and total disregard for the infrastructure of Haddonfield by our local politicians borders on incompetence. When Commissioner Borden addresses a resident who voted for him with the response "Please don't vote for me again" because she had issues with his policy, that's a reply from an arrogant politician who has forgotten who he works for and thinks his job is beyond challenge. It's not hard to see why Haddonfield has the problems it has.
Jeff H June 19, 2012 at 05:20 PM
Maryann Campling June 19, 2012 at 09:06 PM
I have two points to make: The BOE's contribution of $150,000 to fund the turf wars comes out of our taxes...it drives me crazy when a deliniation is made between the Borough's contribution and the BOE's contribution....both come out of the taxpayers' pockets! And Mr.Kelly, you shouldn't be surprised by the lack of maintenance of Radnor field.....remember a few months ago some Einstein referred to the Fargo section as "the less affluent section of town." What arrogance; I sometimes think that the Borough would like to just annex the east-side to Cherry Hill and be done with it!
Brian Kelly June 20, 2012 at 02:57 AM
Maryann, I remember that remark in regards to a proposal by the commissioners to build lower income housing at Radnor field as it was the "less affluent" section of Haddonfield. When you attend a commissioners meeting and actually hear something like that, and you read about Borden's treatment of a resident who had the temerity to ask him about an issue that affected her...add that up with the total lack of disregard for the upkeep of our town and you get a picture of a group of politicians who are only interested in projects that benefit their special interest groups and have forgotten they're public servants serving the citizens of our town.
Sue Martin June 20, 2012 at 02:20 PM
Last night I attended the graduation ceremony at HMHS for my niece. She is part of the second generation of the family to graduate from HMHS and the second graduate of her generation. I took the opportunity to look around my Alma Mater and was deeply distressed by the deterioration of the building--this is the same lack of stewardship displayed in terms of the maintenance of our public library. Our high school doesn't need an artificial turf playing field. This beautiful building needs basic maintenance, starting with a coat of paint. That should be the Borough's primary responsibility. And not just at the high school, but all around town.


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