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Video: Haddonfield Commissioners Quarrel at Meeting Thursday

Commissioners Ed Borden and Jeff Kasko have a heated exchange.

Ed Borden and Jeff Kasko had a heated exchange near the end of a 2.5-hour meeting Thursday.

Two of the three top elected borough officials squared off over the amount of information provided to them and the public by a group of residents raising money to help pay for artificial surfaces to be installed on two fields at . The commissioners voted unanimously last month to pay $356,000 to resurface Anniversary Field, a borough-owned field near the high school football stadium.

The resurfacing of both Anniversary Field and the stadium turf is expected to cost just over $1 million, half of which a group of residents known as the Turf Field Committee has promised to raise. The borough's funding commitment is contingent on the residents raising $500,000. The school board has agreed to pay the remaining amount.

The argument Thursday revolved around how much information was provided to the commissioners and the public about the project, including the environmental impact of turf fields and their maintenance.

Herb Hess June 15, 2012 at 10:39 AM
I'm with Jeff on this one. The Boro and BOE decisions to fund a turf field came with little time and scant information to allow public debate. Additionally it calls into question why the Open Space Trust Fund was not employed - and why there is no advisory body for the use of this fund. Given that the Boro residents are having difficulty funding the "need to have" priorities, how do we justify pushing through the "nice to have" priorities without a full debate?
Jeff H June 15, 2012 at 01:24 PM
WE ARE PAYING THE PRICE NOW FOR POOR FINANCIAL DECISIONS MADE OVER THE PAST YEARS i.e. RENTING SPACE AT THE HIDEAWAY BUILDING FOR TEMPORARY LIBRARY STORAGE THAT WAS NEVER USED.
Jeff H June 15, 2012 at 01:28 PM
WOW ED LOST THAT ONE. ISN'T HE A TRIAL ATTORNEY? YIKES!
Ruth S June 15, 2012 at 01:51 PM
I believe the phrase is do not leave a paper trail; it then becomes he said she said & there will be no accountability. The Mayor just sat there! What was that all about. These people work for us, correct?? Ruth S
Pro-Haddonfield June 15, 2012 at 01:51 PM
The good that this town is trying to accomplish is being lost here. A very large donation is offered...the town pulls together to try and gain momentum on a project that has been stalled for many years and has done some incredible work to get all the necessary testing and paperwork in order for the borough/BOE to make a decision. Sure they could have moved slower but to hold fundraising and ask people to donate hard earned money to a good cause you have to establish events and dates and have a plan. The good work the TURF IT team has done did not happen overnight. Kasko new this was coming before him to vote. If he wanted to see something, he could have asked and he would have received. From what I understand, he was presented with a thorough presentation. To let it go to vote and say that he is ill informed is a cop out. To vote and then to complain about having to vote is pandering. You can't play to both sides. Why didn't he fight to delay the vote? He took the easy way out.
Sue Martin June 15, 2012 at 01:54 PM
Isn't it incredible that we have a debate about having written information available for the review of residents before a decision like this one is made? Let alone a Commissioner? Something is really wrong. Jeff is right--I just hope that he doesn't burn out. Its hard going against Tish and Ed, as entrenched as they are in the old way of doing things. But in times like we are experiencing now, money is tight and accountability expected.
Jeff H June 15, 2012 at 02:03 PM
So...you don't believe in due process then? Jeff did state that he was uncomfortable with the speed in which this process was moving. Maybe these citizens can also raise money to fix the roof at the HS, and replace the 1,600 trees that will be dead in the next five years? Let's not get caught up in tunnel vision, there are many needs that haven't been attended to by the folks leading this town over the past 25 years!
A concerned parent June 15, 2012 at 02:05 PM
Jeff stand your ground!! He is speaking on behalf of our tax dollars! The field investment should have been decided after adequate public notice and adequate public debate. Turf fields raise a lot of questions. The private funds raised seem like they are saving us mo ey short term, but remember the tax payers will need to maintain and replace. Also I hope that the turf investment did not come at the price of loosing Bancroft. THAT is an opportunity that truly will give us more fields. But how much more tax dollars can we afford? Our town needs clear leadership with obtainable goals. It was stated in THe Sun that the commissioners received their first set of paperwork just minutes prior to the meeting. Whether you are for or against turf fields, quick decisions that are not thoroughly examined always come with a cost.
Pro-Haddonfield June 15, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Jeff, I absolutely believe in due process. I didn't imply otherwise. I agree that this town needs many things and I would be first in line should a fundraising effort for the high school come about. Many people have complained about the conditions and availability of the fields our children play on. Rather than continuing to complain, a group stepped up to do something about it. I commend them. Mr. Kasko's point about informing the public is not something that I would argue with. In fact, I agree with him. The public should always be informed. A group went to the borough and BOE with a proposal, pulling together all of the information and testing they could possibly think of and gather. The commissioners, including Mr. Kasko should have helped guide this process if they felt there was something missing. I just don't like that after all he was presented with, he chose to complain about the methods when he could have guided the process in a way that he felt would have been more appropriate. The group that has given their time to this effort are not commissioners. They are a concerned group of citizens that decided to stop complaining about something and stepped up to do something about it. Let's move on and remember the good that is being done here. When you decide to gather a group of citizens to form "SHADE IT" or some other fundraising vehicle for our 1600 trees, you can benefit from the lessons learned during this process.
HADDONFIELD RES. June 15, 2012 at 02:35 PM
Jeff Kasko is trying to play both sides of the fence. He was well aware of all the information prior to the meeting. He voted YES and know is trying to please the individuals that were against this. He also attended the fundraiser for the Turf Field. He is in fact a politician trying to get votes........
Tom Kenny June 15, 2012 at 02:38 PM
Just remember, if the citizens didn't get involved in the decisions regarding the future of this town, we would have a lovely 40,000 sq.ft. CRC on Hopkins Lane.... Wouldn't that be special.. Tom
Tom Kenny June 15, 2012 at 02:40 PM
CCRC that is..
Sue Martin June 15, 2012 at 02:49 PM
It is great that concerned citizens contributed to this project. If the project is all that important, people would be true philanthropists and pay for all of it, and fund future maintenance costs. This is not the time for the Borough to spend tax dollars on things that are not necessary and useful to the majority of residents. Too many people are hurting financially to be happy about buying into a nice-to-have project like this.
Pro-Haddonfield June 15, 2012 at 03:10 PM
Always two sides to the coin I guess. Those working hard on this effort I'm sure don't view this as nice-to-have. This is something that is in fact very necessary to provide adequate, safe facilities and to alleviate the scheduling problems we have for our children. This is part of the burden of living in such a small town with limited space. Our children and grandchildren will be glad to agree to disagree.
HaddonGirl June 15, 2012 at 05:36 PM
There's no "both sides" by Kasko. He's simply making the point that more than the commissioners are entitled to ALL available information. And as pointed out by others, he did object at the time of the vote, to the speed with which the issue was processed. Kasko did, nevertheless, support the idea, and attend the fundraiser, because it is in fact, an important thing for our small town, to have a field of considerably more utility at that location. And if you don't like the look of it all, step outside the sausage factory.
Jackie June 15, 2012 at 05:48 PM
I agree with Jeff Kasko and appreciate his defense of due process. As MSM rightly points out, the merits of informed decisions and adequate time for public dialogue have become a debate? In terms of playing both sides, an alternative possibility is that he realized, in retrospect, that the matter was handled too quickly and without sufficient community discussion (especially after listening to all the angles brought up after the vote). I respect politicians who can admit mistakes, apologize, and reevaluate. I'm much more used to the opposite: pols who refuse to back down from their misjudgments and simply "smile and nod" when any concerns are raised. An issue with these financial and environmental aspects requires thorough deliberation.
Brian Kelly June 15, 2012 at 08:12 PM
Information is constantly being withheld from the public. When one commissioner withholds information from the other that tells you something. What exactly is the Mayor doing just sitting there, acting oblivious the whole time? She knows just what's going on. There's an agenda in play here and field turf is only the beginning. If anyone thinks you just buy the turf, drop it in and that's the end of the money spent, you're wrong. Putting the cost of maintenance and repair aside and the fact you have to eventually replace the stuff (will the same people agree to donate money for the next field?) we come to the sports complex. With the crumbling infrastructure, a huge water renovation project down the line and rising taxes, does anyone think Tish Columbi woke up one morning and thought, "Gee, what we need right now is a to spend tens of millions of dollars on a sports complex!" Bancroft has been trying to cut a deal to sell that land to Haddonfield for years. I want to know what's going on in those private meetings Borden is having with Bancroft and how the Board of Education fits in to all of this. It's time for the citizens of Haddonfield to put on their thinking caps and start looking at the big picture. If you love your neighborhood the way it is and you don't want it to change, you better start demanding information. Field turf is just the beginning
Maryann Campling June 16, 2012 at 01:20 AM
Wow....when "business as usual" is challenged, the fur really flies! The Commission better get used to it, I think. The folks from all over this town...east and west...are feeling that we are treated like mushrooms....kept in the dark and fed s---! Messrs. Hess, Kelly, Kenny, Haddon Girl, et al...you are right on the money...I hope you keep hold their feet to the fire. And thanks to the folks at the Commissioner's meeting last night who spoke up....we appreciate your passion and love of this town. And Commissioner Kasko....keep fight the good fight! PS Look into the "side walk" project going on in town....another big debacle.
taxesarehigh June 18, 2012 at 03:28 PM
I look forward to a day when technology will allow our local government to more quickly and accurately poll all taxpaying citizens in this municipality and find out what everyone thinks about these types of expenditures. I wonder what percentage of the citizens of Haddonfield have kids in the high school – or - will have kids in the high school in the future.....of this subset of citizens, I wonder how many of these kids are interested in even using a turf field. Maybe, if this technology existed we would find out that there is not a majority of citizens who care about spending a million dollars on artificial grass, regardless of the fact that part of the money is coming from private funds....if this were the case the three elected officials who I suspect we give too much autonomy, would have no choice but to vote "no" on spending the money for something that so many citizens have said is a "nice to have" not a “must have."

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