LIVINGSTON, NJ — More than 100 Livingston residents have expressed concern about the scale of the new Madonna Sports Complex that is currently under construction by signing a petition to downsize the project.
In preparation of a community meeting to be hosted by the Livingston Township Council on Monday, Oct. 17 regarding the construction of the synthetic field, Brian Spector, a resident of Bennington Road, organized a petition to “Make Livingston’s Madonna Sports Complex More Neighbor Friendly.”
According to Spector, the major concerns regarding the multi-sport turf field include four 70-foot light towers, which will extend the hours of field use, and a 32-foot scoreboard with potential audio capabilities. In speaking with the lighting manufacturer, Spector discovered that the lights will be the same ones as the Newark Academy field, pictured above.
“This is going to affect us negatively,” said Spector. “The lights are an eye soar and we expect to have a lot of loud noises, cheering and screaming right up until the noise ordinance allows, so we’re really concerned about the reduced quality of life. We’re also trying to address the overflow of traffic, people parking on our street and cutting through our yards to get to the field to avoid the Oval bottleneck parking.”
Because the new field has the potential to be used year-round and in the late hours of the evening, Spector said he and his neighbors are concerned that their property values will suffer in addition to their quality of life. He also said the construction of the field will impact the ability of nearby families to enjoy peace and quiet in their homes and backyards during the days and well past many of their children's bed times.
“As it was initially explained to residents, it was supposed to be a normal soccer field just like the other soccer fields in town and now the scope has changed to being the only field of this scale,” said Spector. “There’s no other field in town that is this close to residences, especially with lights. Hillside, Heritage, Okner—all the other fields in town, none of them have lights that are so close to residential areas.”
Spector said the main purpose of the petition is to remove the lights and keep the field as neighbor-friendly as possible. Those who sign the petition are not against the new field, only the construction of lights, a scoreboard with audio capabilities and late evening use.
In fact, Spector said the neighbors in the area were happy to hear that the town has promised to replant evergreen trees to create a buffer between their properties and the field and also agreed to construct fences to deter the threat of trespassers.
“We understand that it’s going to be good for the town and a lot of people will use it, but at the cost of our neighborhood’s quality of life and wellbeing it’s just really not right,” said Spector. “The town’s not being good neighbors. It’s not fair that our lives are going to have to be interrupted pretty much every day of the year so that people can play sports.”
Spector, who moved to town only a little more than a year ago with his wife and two young children, said he loves his house, his yard, his neighbors and neighborhood. Now, he said, the field is going to affect his view of everything.
“We were really excited about the proximity to the high school, to the Oval and to everything that the town has to offer,” said Spector. “We’re nearby the action and that was a great plus when we moved in, but now it’s really disappointing because it really affects our view of everything. We’re not going to be able to have any quiet family time in the yard with this big field kind of overshadowing our whole property.”
A meeting in the Madonna Drive parking lot with Mayor Al Anthony earlier this month attracted nearly 30 residents from the residential neighborhoods adjacent to St. Philomena’s Church. Spector expects more than that to attend Monday’s meeting in support of this complaint.
“We would love to get as many people to support this as we could,” said Spector. “From the petition, we’ve had some really passionate comments and we really hope that the council takes this to heart and listens to the residents.”
Mayor Anthony said that the upcoming Madonna turf field is considered one of the most exciting projects to break ground in Livingston in a long time and a project that the council has looked forward to for nearly ten years.
“Now that we have finally begun this project this year, we have to be cognizant and mindful of our residents living near the field and make sure their concerns are heard and addressed as best as possible,” said Anthony. “Our goal is to bring a safe turf field to town that everyone can enjoy."