HOLMDEL, NJ - Girls are tough but they can’t build their own fields. They need adults for that.
The treatment of girls sports, specifically girls softball, was on full display at the Holmdel Township Committee meeting on Tuesday. What started out as an approval expected by most residents in attendance took a hard turn after it was pulled from the agenda.
A proposal to work with the Holmdel Board of Education to utilize township funds to light a softball field for girls was pulled from the agenda by Deputy Mayor Nikolis. “I’d like to pull (the resolution) for further discussion”. It included shared services and Holmdel High School lighting.
Nikolis said he wasn’t aware of the girls lighting proposal. “We had no knowledge of this.” Mayor Hinds took issue with him immediately.
“You had no knowledge of what?” said Hinds
“That we were doing lights at the High School” replied Nikolis “When did we discuss that?”
“I think it’s been discussed a hundred times.” Said Hinds, “I can tell you that those guys in the back of the room that came to about fifty meetings and brought it up. We brought it up during the bonding and brought it up multiple times on what we are going to do for the softball girls. Multiple times.”
Nikolis then shifted his argument to the shared service agreement which would be required between the township and the schools. Nikolis asked how the shared service agreement would help the recreation teams.
“What’s the agreement?” asked Nikolis
“Read it” replied Hinds
Nikolis ultimately made a motion to table the girls softball lights program and requested a full accounting of all funds used for recreation.
Committeeman Buontempo then expressed concerns about transparency. “I get the Deputy Mayor’s point”. Buontempo said that the Holmdel Board of Education should come to the Township Committee meeting and ask for it if they wanted it. He also suggested that the school would deny use of the field “They have in the past” said Buontempo, without offering any examples. The request was actually from HYAA, not the schools.
Committeeman Tom Critelli jumped in to the scrum. “Let me try to jump in here and lower the temperature on this for just a moment and then you guys can go at it all you like. The lighted fields at the high school is something that HYAA asked us (the Township Committee) to do so that their program would have a new field that they can have the girls can practice on at night. So, one of the things that we did all last year was work closely with HYAA on what improvements they wanted to make to all the facilities around town.”
Critelli continued, “I know you were in plenty of those conversations so you are familiar with that whole topic. We approved 2.5 million to make improvements. The number one priority for the softball program was to light the new softball field. You (Nikolis) are picking on a shared service agreement. We can’t make the improvements on a high school facility without negotiating an agreement between the Holmdel Board of Ed and Holmdel Township. You are asking us to table something…” Nikolis cut him off.
Said Nikolis, “I want to see the bills. How much money was allocated? How much has been paid? How much have we given the engineers? I want to see bills from T&M, Maser and what DPW has spent.”
He wanted a full accounting of all funds expended on recreation and also stated that the process was not transparent.
The arguing eventually elicited a comment from the public, said a member of the audience,“Get your heads out off your a**es.” Pascucci took issue with the remark, “Hey with all due respect don’t get my head out of the a**”. Later in the same meeting, Pascucci challenged a resident to make their comments outside (the building).
During a previous Holmdel Board of Education meeting, Board President Vicky Flynn advised a resident who asked about the status off the agreement that the HBOE was ready to go and just waiting for the township.
Residents were very upset. Bruce Henderson, on the Executive Board for HYAA “We’ve never had a problem getting the fields”. “I don’t know what the political games are but I’m just really disappointed because we came here just to expect this to be passed we had discussed this back in October. Something seemingly so simple…it was the number one thing.”
The roll call on sharing township funds for lighting included a ‘yes’ from Mayor Hinds and Tom Critelli, a ‘no’ vote from Pascucci. Deputy Mayor Nikolis, who pulled the item from the agenda in the first place, abstained. Committeeman Buontempo abstained as well.
Pascucci said he wanted a user agreement as he did not trust the board of education.
During the public comment period, former Holmdel Board of Education Member Cathy Weber, said that there has been a disparity on how girls are treated from a recreation perspective. “I fully support the support the lights at the softball field and equity for our girls sports in this town as we have not had equity.”
The girls softball team will have to continue to wait while the Township Committee sorts out their differences. It is possible that the matter will be acted on at the meeting next week as the members who pulled the matter and debated it expressed a desire to vote on it at a future meeting. The new vote on the matter may take place next week at the next Holmdel Township Committee meeting.
Watch the unedited video below (Courtesy off CILU)