HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ - Once again the lining of the re-turfed athletic field at Depken Field was a heated topic of conversation at a public meeting. Two weeks ago, the Hasbrouck Heights Board of Education meeting was dominated by parents of the youth soccer players demanding that the new turf at Depken Field be lined for short-sided youth soccer fields.
(For the uninformed, the field would be lined so that two soccer fields would go across the football field, allowing for multiple youth games to be played at the same time at Depken on Saturdays and Sundays when the field is not being used otherwise.)
The Council meeting did not have the number of parents who showed at the Board of Education meeting in attendance. (Over 100 where at the Board of Education, including children who play in the league.) It did have four people who spoke to the Council.
Hasbrouck Heights Soccer Association (HHSA) President Michael Karcic addressed the Council, noting that when they combine their fall and spring programs over 600 children are part of the HHSA. During his discussion with Mayor Jack DeLorenzo, Karcic addressed the lack of enough adequate fields to hold the 300 home soccer games that the teams in the HHSA holds, and that being able to use Depken Field on Saturday and Sunday when the fields are not scheduled for use, would help offset the issue.
Concerning the financing of the field, Karcic believes the Council should be exercising its influence to convince the Board of Education to put the lines down, or not have the Council help with funding the bond issue.
“By telling the Board of Education that you are helping them with a million dollar bond to put the proper lines on the field, which means large sided soccer, small sided soccer, softball, everything, we can ensure that our tax dollars are being used to the maximum of their ability,” Karcic stated.
“We have every right to say that if we are not going to make this field a field that every kid in this town has access to then we should not be putting the funds down,“ he continued.
DeLorenzo disagreed. Noting that the Council’s purpose in helping the Board of Education was to save the taxpayers' money by being able to fund the project more efficiently. He also noted that Hasbrouck Heights is fortunate that the Board of Education and the town have a good relationship, saying that there are towns where the Board of Education does not allow the town recreation departments use of their fields.
He noted Saddle Brook as an example of this.
Karcic said that the Saddle Brook’s President’s Field, is lined for soccer, both short and long-sided, football, baseball and lacrosse, and suggested Emerson High School as an example of another field that is lined for all the sports.
DeLorenzo, who noted that he had two daughters come through the soccer program, including one serving as captain at Hasbrouck Heights High School, stated he empathized with the concerns, but emphasized that it was the Board of Education’s fields, and that the decision was theirs. He also asked if they were denied use of Depken Field or Hitchcock Field when it was unscheduled and available.
After several moments of debate, DeLorenzo said that he supported the project, and was going to let the Board of Education and the high school athletic director decide the issue.
That brought up the complaint that the Board of Education was not willing to discuss the issue with the HHSA. Karcic said that he had left messages for the BOE President, Vice President and School Superintendent and had not received a response until earlier in the day, which was a response to a text that had been sent out that morning.
Chris Ferdinand, who is also a board member of the HHSA, made a specific request for the Mayor to get the BOE to explain why they did not want the lines painted in. He stated that they have not even been able to get a reason for why the Board of Education did not want lines.
DeLorenzo stated that he would reach out to the Board of Education and School Superintendent to discuss the situation.
After more debate, DeLorenzo called for the Council to vote. There was a request for the vote to be delayed until the matter had been resolved, which was denied. It was explained that the Bond Note Authorization Ordinance had to be passed that evening in order for the process to be complete.
It was stated that the plans can not even be drawn up until the Bond Authorization Note is passed. The ordinance is only approving the financing mechanism for the turf, not the design.
The vote passed, 4-2, with Councilmen Stephen Reyngoudt, voting against it, along with Councilman Christopher Hillmann. Reyngoudt stated “I am not against funding this field, I am in favor of it, but it has to be multi-use for all the sports, so I am voting no at this time.’
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