Education

Fanwood Council Debates Funding for Terrill Middle School Field Improvements

Fanwood Borough Councilman Russ Huegel Credits: File photo by John Mooney

FANWOOD, NJ – A discussion at the Fanwood Borough Council’s agenda meeting on Monday, July 10, about a proposal to refurbish the fields at Terrill Middle School  -- at a price tag of over $800,000 -- revealed lingering bitterness over the cost of the parking lot that the Board of Education built at Park Middle School.

The work to rehab the Terrill Middle School field would include adding drainage, electrical outlets and dugouts on a 330 ft. by 400 ft. field that would be used for baseball, softball, soccer and lacrosse. The Borough of Fanwood would be responsible for $172,000 of the total with the rest coming from the Township of Scotch Plains and the BOE.

”I’m a no right now,” said Councilman Russell Huegel, noting that Fanwood residents were generally against the parking lot. “How much did the parking lot cost? The wounds of that parking lot run a little deep. I’m being honest, I’m a little annoyed.”

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“We don’t have great fields for the kids to play,” Councilwoman Erin McElroy Barker said. “The Board of Ed isn’t vested since they don’t sponsor middle school sports. They wanted the parking lot.”

The councilwoman was cautious, however.

“As much as people in the community want more fields, I don’t know if they want to pay more taxes,” McElroy Barker added.

“They have no interest in what we want to use them for,” said Councilman Jack Molenaar.

Mayor Colleen Mahr noted that the “allied organizations” (SPF soccer, SPFBL baseball, SPF lacrosse, and the PAL) stepped up to fill the void when the BOE dropped middle school sports from its budget several years ago.

Councilman Huegel described the field as being in “terrible shape” and said that even though the middle school teams need better fields, he wanted to take a stand against how the school board spends its budget.

“The Board of Ed has a resource allocation problem,” Councilman Huegel said.

Councilman Tom Kranz agreed with Huegel: “I’m with Russ; at some point we have to stop paying and paying.”

“There is frustration over the parking lot. We don’t necessarily feel we were heard in the right way,” Mayor Mahr said. “We have support for putting the (BOE) budget back to a public vote.”

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