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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.

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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