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Commissioners Agree to Spend $354K to Install Artificial Turf on Athletic Field

The allocation is contingent on a private group raising half of the money for the $1 million project at Haddonfield Memorial High School.

The on Monday agreed to contribute $354,000 to a $1 million project to install artificial turf at two fields at . The money will be contingent on $500,000 in private funds raised by a community group for the project.

The agreement came after a 20-minute presentation from Joe Del Duca, a local attorney leading the private fundraising effort, and a lively 30-minute debate with Del Duca, and among themselves, at a work session. The commissioners finally agreed to support a resolution at their next meeting on Tuesday, May 22. Commissioner Jeff Kasko expressed concern that approving a resolution then may not provide enough time for public comment.

“I’m very nervous not to have public input,” he said. “I don’t know if I can support this before getting public input.”  

Commissioner Ed Borden argued strenuously to move forward with the resolution and public comment next Tuesday after Del Duca said his group needed borough support for continued fundraising.

“You’ve really done fantastic stuff here,” Borden told Del Duca. “This is really a great thing and gives us a great opportunity to do something we’ve been talking about for years and years and years.”

Del Duca’s group has already raised $250,000. One donor gave a large portion of the money and Del Duca said he hoped there would be more large givers, as well as many smaller contributors.

The borough board of education approved $150,000 toward the project last week, which will resurface turf at the high school football stadium and the adjacent Anniversary Field. The borough owns Anniversary Field, which the commissioners and Del Duca agreed was not well maintained.

The borough spends more than $40,000 annually for maintenance of three public fields, including Anniversary Field near the high school, borough Administrator Sharon McCullough said. One argument for the artificial turf field is reduced maintenance costs. Another is that Haddonfield Memorial High School and borough youth sports have some of the poorest fields in the area, proponents of the plan said.

Borden said another selling point of the plan is that half of it will be paid for with private money. But even with private donations, the borough and the school board will continue to own and maintain the properties.

 

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story did not have the correct name for Anniversary Field.

Pro-Haddonfield May 15, 2012 at 02:29 PM
The biggest way to reduce the impact of concussions is through coaching. I'd like to see the data that supports the theory that turf increases concussions. Have you seen how hard the current high school surface is? Scout field and Crows are in fantastic shape compared to the high school and are largely in the shape they are in because of the contributions of youth sports. The youth sports programs in town are exploding as is high school participation. The high school turf project will not only improve conditions but greatly help the scheduling issues that we are faced with now. Additionally the recovery time of a turf field is zero. Please go look at Centennial field to see its condition now that lacrosse has been using it. It has become impossible to keep grass growing. This project will not only benefit the high school but will immediately have an impact on the youth programs of our town by allowing us to adequately schedule practices and games. It seems that just about every town across our region has invested in their facilities recognizing the importance of youth athletics. While Haddonfield certainly recognizes the importance of youth athletic programs, it has not invested nearly enough.
HAV May 15, 2012 at 04:00 PM
This news nauseates me. What is wrong with our town? How can the town/school district spend that much $$ on something that serves a specific audience--only a fraction of our population. I am in ire when I think about the outsourced mediocre-questionably loyal custodians, trash collectors, the horrible condition of our library and public parks/spaces--have you seen the weed beds surrounding each tree in front of the downtown businesses--now THAT's a way to attract businesses!? And what about the paint crumbling from the auditorium and the ghetto-like condition of it!? The folks who raised all of that $$ are probably bleeding at the nails for all of their efforts to make a nice auditorium--I hope they got the same % of sup[port for their project from the BOE and boro...I doubt they did. The list goes on and on...including how difficult it is to get the boro to do anything to help with the Safe Walking campaign at Tatem elem. Why can't keeping kids safe when walking and biking to school get $54k to strip crosswalks or Grove street, hire an afternoon crossing guard, and many more things..?! This town is going to pot, but we sure will have nice turf field to sit on while everything else overgrows or crumbles around us.
Questionable Spending May 15, 2012 at 05:28 PM
Let's see this report that was presented to BOE and commissioners! Is this a need or want ? Where is the Boro money coming from? What about the environmental impact to Hopkins Pond that is in the Delaware River Watershed? Why the rush? Just because the BOE can be dictated to by a special interest donor,our commissioners should not be!
Linda McLaughlin May 15, 2012 at 06:34 PM
The news nauseates you? There is nothing wrong with our town, our town is one of the best places to live in the State of New Jersey and beyond. You are right, turf fields would serve a specific audience, a VERY LARGE specific audience. Are you also forgetting that half of the cost of this entire project is coming from citizens in this town who are ponying up their own money to make this happen? It is a need, a real need and has been for way too long. New turf fields will impact thousands of our youth, an upgrade and resource that they deserve. If you think this town is going to pot, take a look around you outside of our Borough's borders. Not one town compares to ours and they all have turf fields. I commend our Commissioners and fully support their approval of this much needed and long over-due resource.
Haddon Girl May 15, 2012 at 09:43 PM
Where is all the money going that this town collects in tax dollars. We are paying tons of taxes for bad roads, improper care of our landscaped areas, a crumbling Library - and as one other person said - the list goes on and on. Ask yourself - where is the money going???
Dan May 15, 2012 at 10:05 PM
Studies Show FieldTurf is Safer than Natural Grass An independent, three-year study of competitive college football showed that when compared to natural grass the FieldTurf system leads to: 74% Fewer Muscle Tears 42% Lower ACL Trauma 32% Fewer Ligament Tears 22% Fewer Severe Injuries 19% Fewer Substantial Injuries 12% Fewer Concussions 10% Less Injury From Shoe Surface Interaction during Contact 8% Less Injury From Shoe Surface Interaction during Non-Contact 7% Fewer Total Injuries An independent, five-year safety study of competitive high school football showed that when compared to natural grass the FieldTurf system leads to: 55% Fewer Neural Injuries 47% Fewer Cranial / Cervical Injuries 38% Fewer 3rd Degree Injuries 45% Less Time Lost to Long-Term Injuries (Lasting 22+ Days) 35% Less Time Lost to Short-Term Injuries (Lasting 1-2 Days)
Dan May 15, 2012 at 10:06 PM
A Five-Year Prospective Study. Bill S. Barnhill, MD; Michael Myers, PhD. FASCAM. March 2003. Injury Incidence, Etiology, And Severity Of Game Related High School Football Injuries On Fieldturf Versus Natural Grass. New England Journal of Medicine. October, 2004.
Dan May 15, 2012 at 10:07 PM
The above references are regarding the statistics quoted in my prior post.
hfield93 May 16, 2012 at 12:38 AM
The addition of a turf field to HMHS is some of the best news I could have received as a recent HMHS graduate. After spending the past four years of my high school career on the playing field two seasons out of each academic year, I have first hand experience of how awful our grass fields are. Also, I have recently undergone a serious ACL injury which occurred on a grass field, and personally I would never want to play on a Haddonfield field after getting that hurt. I know others in my graduating class who have gotten injured due to the uneven surfaces provided by fields like Radnor and Scout. After playing a season of collegiate athletics on a turf field I have witnessed much fewer injuries and a more successful competitive play. I know that once playoffs hit in my high school seasons it was almost as if Haddonfield sports were at a lose due to the fact that we were playing turf based teams. This will provide even more success to our outstanding athletic program and allow even more young players a chance at great things! This will benefit most everyone at HMHS because a large fraction are involved in sports through the high school, and a fraction of that large portion continue on to playing on the collegiate level, including myself. This project is genius and I expect nothing but a successful future for HMHS athletics.
Hmhs student May 16, 2012 at 03:21 AM
Scout field is in terrible condition and kids shouldnt have to play on it.
Maryann Campling May 16, 2012 at 11:27 AM
Good Lord! What has happened to fiscal common sense in this town? At the Commissioners' meeting last week, it was disclosed that Borough tax rates are being adjusted to offset the deficit caused by uncollected real estate taxes, our roads are like driving the Baja, public buildings and schools are in a state of disrepair, older folks are having a difficult time staying in homes that have been mortgage free for years, because of our crushing taxes.....and we are going to spend a huge amount of $$$ for a project that will address the wishes of a special interest group and not the residents as a whole....there's something wrong here. And before the hate mail starts, I don't dislike kids, nor do I object paying for their education; but, when it comes to their entertainment/sports programs, I think that the financial burden on residents who don't have kids "in the game" should be taken into consideration. Also, are the names of the folks who are making private contributions to the project a matter of public record?
Sue Martin May 16, 2012 at 01:53 PM
This is a super idea for time when there's lots of money around. With the Borough's crumbling infrastructure, continually rising taxes and long-time residents being forced to sell up and move out, I'm astounded that we even have any money lying around to contribute. If that is the case, I have a list of more important projects the money could be used for, i.e., potholes, tree replacement, another police officer, etc., etc.
Jeff H May 16, 2012 at 01:55 PM
LET'S HOPE THAT THE PUBLIC DONATIONS DON'T CARRY ANY LIMITATIONS AS TO WHICH SPORTS CAN NE PLAYED ON THESE FIELDS. THEY SHOULD BE MULTI-PURPOSE IN ORDER TO BENEFIT THE GREATEST NUMBER OF STUDENTS.
30% more concerned then previous parent May 16, 2012 at 03:27 PM
My son plays for the dawgs, and I support the turf fields. I think threse fields can really help the dawgs win the colonial this year. However, the turf field could terminate the local groundhog population, including bean(local groundhog) and his family. P,S my son is one of the better players in the colonial conference, And most likely playing division 1, where there will be turf.
30% more concerned then previous parent May 16, 2012 at 03:35 PM
Recent statistical studies have shown that the dawgs have won more home games on grass than artificial turf. Also, many players have said that they love rolling around with each other in the wet mud as a pregame ritual.
30% more concerned then previous parent May 16, 2012 at 03:42 PM
My argument makes the most sense because I know how the dawgs feel. My son has been cee vocal with me throughout this process. A three time player to watch in the colonial, my son knows the most about the dawgs. I was talking with local hero Mr, Birgdaugh, and he is in support for whatever makes the dawgs happy! Why can we just let the dawgs decide what they want to do, after all, they are the ones who are playing and competing in the colonial
Penny Welsh May 16, 2012 at 04:25 PM
This is probably the best thing that has been proposed by this town in years. As a parent and tax payer, it makes so much sense to improve the school system and bring our athletic playing fields up to par with other area towns. This will benefit such a large population ranging rom the youngest to the oldest residents. It will make our schools more desirable to attend and allow for our kids to play sports in a safe environment. Just go take a walk on Radnor field, Scout field, or the high school in it's current condition and you will see and feel the large holes and uneven terrain that we have allowed our kids to play on and be injured on. It is a disgrace to this town the conditions our fields are in and we are the laughing stock of our conference and other schools throughout the state. Whenever another team comes here to play they are shocked at how nice our town is and how bad our fields are. We have a very successful athletic program and avery large population of our high school kids play a sport. Just sit on Sylvan Lane at 2:45 one day and see how many kids are rushing out to get on a bus or to get into cars to get to practices and games. In this day and age when obesity is a major problem in America, we should be proud that so many kids want to participate in a sport and should provide them with the best conditions possible to encourage this not to discourage.
Penny Welsh May 16, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Turf fields are the future and make the most fiscal sense. Also please keep in mind that these fields are being funding utilizing private donations from people who care about our children. This group has researched and investigated all issues and have presented a very strong argument and have put their money where their mouth is. Be supportive of progress!! Don't stand in it's way!!!
Sue Martin May 16, 2012 at 04:49 PM
I am not against this project, just against the Borough, which is in dire financial condition, using tax dollars to fund this work. If interested citizens wish to privately fund this initiative, I applaud them with all my heart. Financial support to the tune of 100% would really prove how important this is. That would be old-fashioned philanthropy.
Penny Welsh May 16, 2012 at 05:08 PM
Go to the meeting on May 22nd but go with an open mind and listen to what they are saying. It makes a lot of sense!!
A concerned parent May 16, 2012 at 06:49 PM
Well put! We privatize our custodial staff and have roaches on the floor of the cafeteria of the middle school during lunch but we need to spend money on a turf field! What about the softball program that gets NOTHING! Take a walk down to Crows Woods where the two softball fields are – it’s embarrassing! I think we need to regroup! We seem very impulsive - first let’s buy Bancroft, now let’s spend on turf fields...... how about we take care of what’s existing but being neglected!
Brian Kelly May 16, 2012 at 08:28 PM
When spending this amount of money, every side of the issue needs to be examined. How many sports injuries have actually been sustained over the years? How do they relate with other schools that have artificial turf? Is there any difference? When you're playing sports, there's going to be injuries. Most importantly, how many of those injuries can be directly attributed to grass field verses turf? Don't tell me what could happen, tell me what has happened. Are we talking about ultimately spending hundreds of thousands of dollars because there could be a minute chance of a grass verses turf injury? There are studies put out by the NFL injury surveillance system that states from 2002 to 2010 there are 27% more injuries on field turf, including over 80% more ACL/MCL/PCL ligament damage. Considering the speed of the NFL game, this survey could be misleading at the high school level, and the study was on turf manufactured in 2010 but it's something to consider. Turf is also far hotter than real grass and the issues of higher dehydration and heat exhaustion are well documented. Turf is also composed of degrading synthetic particles and gases and studies are incomplete on possible neurological implications during competition. Again, how many purely grass related injuries have been suffered over the years? What are the drawbacks of artificial? This is a 354 thousand dollar issue that needs to be studied without passion. Every reasonable fact needs to be reviewed.
Scott May 18, 2012 at 07:43 PM
Take a look at the picture of the current state of our field. Imagine how safe it is playing on a field largely covered in mud. Imagine how often it is off limits trying to keep it in good condition or because it is unsafe. See .pdf.
Scott May 18, 2012 at 07:45 PM
Also look at the state of the practice field (Anniversary) also bare and muddy.
Bill Tourtellotte May 21, 2012 at 01:33 PM
[HaddonfieldTalks] Turf Fields-Limited Public Input-Commissioners Meeting Tuesday 7:30 Borough Hall All residents should be aware that there is an important topic being discussed at this Tuesday's Commissioners meeting relating a major public-private initiative to provide synthetic turf to the two fields behind HMHS. If you are supportive of it, against it, or undecided, this could be your only shot at providing meaningful commentary as it is the second successive meeting covering the topic and the proposal is reported to be on a fast track.
Bill Tourtellotte May 21, 2012 at 01:33 PM
Assuming that the claims of reduced injuries are verified and that other health related concerns are addressed in a manner that can be relied upon, I personally am in favor of the proposal. The benefits are substantial, although so are the costs. I applaud the Turf Committee's efforts to date and for committing to a 50% private funding requirement in order to obtain public funding for the balance. While I do personally support this public funding through the BOE and Borough (once any health concerns are addressed and verified), one place funding should NOT come from is the Open Space Trust Fund. While perhaps it may be a "legal" use of the funds, it is fundamentally not appropriate to raid any of those particular funds that have not been applied yet to their true intended purpose: the acquisition and/or preservation of open space.
Bill Tourtellotte May 21, 2012 at 01:34 PM
I will remind folks that repeated public reminders were made by individuals and major civic organizations and commissions that an OSTF Advisory Board was envisioned by the authors of the referendum and voters. These requests were not addressed because the official position was that the OSTF is in a "lockbox" for a major land acquisition. While I personally believe that other potential acquisitions should at least be considered when opportunities present themselves, clearly turf does not fit that stated criteria or the rationale given for no advisory board..... Regardless of your views, please try to attend this important meeting and be heard. Bill Tourtellotte
Bill Tourtellotte May 21, 2012 at 01:40 PM
These are all excellent points Brian. Good governance requires that not only should all sides be given plenty of time to be heard, but that the fundamental assumptions from those who are making the proposal must be verified and tested. I'm not opposed to this proposal at this stage, however, good process must be adhered to.
Concerned taxpayer June 11, 2012 at 06:05 PM
Statement of Borough Commissioners Regarding Open Space Trust Fund and Referendum October 6, 2011 As our citizens consider the referendum on the ballot this November to continue the Open Space Trust Fund Tax, we believe it is helpful and appropriate to advise the voters of our current intentions concerning the use of funds generated by that tax. If terms favorable to the Borough are proposed by Bancroft, it is our intention to use the funds generated by the Open Space Tax up to now and in the near future to fund the acquisition and improvement of portions of the Bancroft property for active and passive recreation. Should it become apparent that the Bancroft property will not be available, we will promptly reevaluate the uses of these open space funds and develop a plan for their expenditure for purposes authorized by the referendum. This statement is made by the present Board of Commissioners and cannot bind future Commissioners. Letitia G. Colombi Jeffrey Stephen Kasko Edward F. Borden, Jr.

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