WEST ORANGE, NJ - Tonight's Town Council Meeting focused on the children of West Orange and Bond Ordinances 2366-12 and 2367-12, which included the reappropriation of $1,606,799.25 in bond proceeds left over from completed projects. Specifically at issue were the reappropriation of funds to replace the turf at Lincoln Field, the Soccer and Baseball Field at West Orange High School, in the amount of $400,000.00; the installation of lighting at Suriano Stadium (the Football field) at West Orange High School in the amount of $200,000.00 and the building of a Concession Stand at West Orange High School in the amount of $350,000.00. The second reading Ordinances ultimately passed, 4-1, with Councilman Krakoviak voting no.
Excitement filled the Town Council Chambers as coaches, parents, and athletes from West Orange PAL and Mountaintop League received recognition from the town for their outstanding seasons. First up were the WOPAL Junior Pee Wees, who were undefeated in their 2012 season, going 13-0. They were ranked third in the state of NJ. The Junior Pee Wee cheerleaders were also recognized. Andrew Mazurek, coach for the Jr. Pee Wees, gave out the certificates to his 7-9 year old champions. The Rivas sisters, cheerleading coaches for Pal, then distributed certificates to their Jr. Pee Wee Cheerleaders.
The next group of athletes recognized by the town were the Mountaintop Soccer's West Orange Liverpool U9 Boys, who went undefeated with 9 wins and 1 tie in 2012. Steve Quirk, outgoing President of the Mountaintop League, presented certificates to the boys while their trainer, Sabastian DePinho, a Pleasantdale teacher, looked on.
Cameras and video cameras recorded all the enthusiasm of the coaches, parents, and kids. Once the certificates were presented, the general public meeting began. Public comment centered primarily on the improvements to sports facilities, and the ongoing issues surrounding Prism and the redevelopment project. Since the last town council meeting, Prism paid their taxes, escrow, and all interest to date, although they have not yet submitted their financial statements as requested by the town council.
Peter Scalora, Vice President of Mountaintop, shared that 2,000 kids are part of the MTL league. He said that teamwork, friendships, discipline, and pride were important parts of the MTL experience. He underscored how important safety was to MTL and West Orange athletics, and how important it was to returf the soccer field. He was concerned about ACL and other injuries now that the field was determined to be unsafe. Doug Nevins, Head Soccer Coach at WOHS, said that Soccer, LaCrosse, Baseball, Mountaintop, Travel Soccer, PAL, and the Marching Band used Lincoln Field all year long. Joe DiPascuale of PAL said how the town worked to integrate kid's sports into the community and how lighting at Suriano Stadium would help to develop athletics in West Orange by increasing usage time.
Perhaps the most impassioned commentary came from Mayor Parisi and Jerry Guarino, who both have dedicated years to PAL and Mountaintop. Guarino stressed that MTL and PAL utilized the soccer field at least 2/3 of the time as compared to WOHS, and how important safety for the children should be. Mayor Parisi spoke to the need to replace the turf as it was now considered unsafe; how lights at Suriano stadium would increase usage of the complex as well as safety. As to the Concession Stand component, which appeared to be the sticking point in approval, Mayor Parisi said that the current stand, located near the Conforti entrance to Suriano Stadium, was in violation of health code standards. In order to build a new concession stand, it was determined (to this point) that a pre-fab stand, that by law had to include bathrooms, including handicapped accessible, would best be served by placing it closer to the Cateret Avenue area. This would save money with water and wiring and provide access for Baseball and Soccer fields as well . All costs presented were not final, and more plans, and information based on the most cost effective avenues, would follow. Council members Spango, Guarino, McCarthy and Cirilo, along with Mayor Parisi, made note that these 1.6 million in costs (with additional expenditures for other town projects), were preliminary, and that no additional cost to the town would be incurred with the bonds because they had already been approved.
Councilman Krakoviak, echoing the sentiments of some residents, appreciated the desire for the projects but was concerned about cost, especially in the face of property tax appeals and additional bonds to cover those and Hurricane Sandy costs. (FEMA is expected to pay most of those costs to West Orange within the next two years or so). In the end, the vote to approve the Bond ordinance passed, 4-1, with Councilman Krakoviak the no vote.
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