NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – The Borough Council discussed facility usage refunds and some policy and procedural issues when outside entities utilize borough owned facilities for various events at its Wednesday, Feb. 15 meeting.
The discussion was prompted by a refund request by David Snyder, who had rented a borough field to run a for-profit Monday through Friday soccer camp last year. However, at the start of the camp the field was not mowed. Snyder explained that the coaches were not able to run drills on a foot long grass during the camp, which was described as a “technical” soccer camp. “The camp wasn’t what it could have been,” Snyder said. The grass was cut prior to the last day of the camp.
Borough Administrator Doug Marvin explained that when a third party landscaping crew, contracted by the borough, went to cut the grass they noticed children on the field and decided to move on to their next facility. They did not return to the field at the end of their round.
Councilman Jim Madden said that the borough has “material obligations” to those who rent its facilities. “If we had done our job we could have notified the landscaper.” Madden asked why the grass wasn’t cut on previous Friday before the Monday start of the camp. Marvin explained that the landscaping company is contracted to do work in the borough only certain days of the week.
Councilman Michael Gennaro said that there should always be a first day inspection of the rented facilities with a borough employee present.
“We have never issued a refund before,” Councilman Robert Robinson stated. “You did not lose money, your campers did not quit,” he said to Snyder. However, this should not have happened. “We have more homework and research to do,” Robinson said, and added that this is a good learning process. He suggested that Snyder take his refund request to the Community Activities Advisory Board. The board can then advise the council to either approve a refund or deny it.
Council President Gary Kapner noted that the borough should have some kind on “mechanism” and policy in place for such events. There should be a way to communicate any problems that may occur within all parties. Mayor Al Morgan also noted that this is an “interdepartmental issue” and suggested that the Recreation Department work with the Department of Public Works. “We are trying to work out something with you,” Morgan said to Snyder.
Marvin also advised the council about the borough’s Facilities Usage Policy geared towards a variety of committees that use borough buildings. This is to ensure that there are proper insurances in place when events are held on borough property. For example, advisory committees, should notify the borough about their upcoming meeting schedule and events. Financial and staff resources should also be disclosed. “In an ideal world advisory committees present the event to the council, which either approves or disapproves it.”
Marvin also noted that the borough has some funds available for a variety of committee events if needed.