Sports

Letters to the Editor

Mayor Brindle on Tamaques Park Field Renovations

765fff197634820c7638_Shelley_by_Mark_De_Hanes_2.jpg
"You saw the goal line and feel like it was moved. We get it," Mayor Brindle said Monday night. Credits: Mark De Hanes
765fff197634820c7638_Shelley_by_Mark_De_Hanes_2.jpg

EDITOR'S NOTE: Mayor Shelley Brindle gave the following speech regarding Tamaques Park field renovations at Monday night's Westfield Recreation Commission meeting:

Thank you to all of you for coming tonight. Thanks especially to the League reps for being here, and to Hugh McGuire from Westfield Lacrosse, Noah Emont from Westfield Baseball and Scott Knaul from Westfield Soccer Association for the productive and positive conversations we’ve had this past week. I also want to thank Peter Echausse and Gary Fox for their leadership of the Recreation Commission, and specifically for their work on the Tamaques field project.

I wanted to address all of you tonight to put you at ease regarding the decision to revisit the site plans for the Tamaques field renovations.

Sign Up for E-News

First, let me reiterate how much I, and the newly elected council persons, agree that we desperately need more, and better fields in town. And we need them sooner rather than later. I am aware of it first hand. I have daughters that came through the soccer program, and my husband Kip and I have spent many hours at fields in other towns wishing we had fields to play on in Westfield. We have a son who currently plays PAL football and have had the experience of shining our car headlights on the Tamaques field so his team can finish practice.

We recognize that lighted fields expand capacity for practice and games, allowing us to accommodate the growing numbers of kids that want to participate in our amazing youth sports programs, and appreciate the economic development benefits of having travel teams come to Westfield. 

Your frustration is understandable. You saw the goal line and feel like it was moved. We get it. 

We know that dedicated folks have been working on this plan for two years and have come up with the most feasible and expeditious solution based upon the parameters that they were given.

Since this plan was conceived, we have many new stakeholders who were not part of the planning process, including Parks and Rec Director Don Bogardus, four new members of the Recreation Commission and a new head of DPW in Greg O’Neil. As newly elected officials, we would be remiss if we didn’t scrutinize the $6.8mm projected cost for the Tamaques Park Renovation that will ultimately be our responsibility to fund and bring to completion. In order for us to be effective champions for the project, we need to be confident that it yields the best outcome for the community. That said, we are equally responsible for delivering results, and we plan to do this. 

We were also elected to deliver on a campaign promise to lead a community driven process to develop a new master plan for Westfield. Creating a holistic plan for all of our parks would be a component of that. It seems only natural to fold the Tamaques project into that process which would allow for greater public input and the opportunity to potentially yield a better outcome.

For example, in reviewing the current plans, one of the questions we asked was: Are the two fields being proposed enough to accommodate the growth projections for our youth sports? One purpose of a parks master plan is to create a long term field plan that could be implemented over time to ensure that we can proactively plan for growth, and not get caught again in the situation where we currently find ourselves.

So you can hopefully see why, from our perspective, it doesn’t seem prudent to move forward on this plan without taking the larger picture into consideration.

Know that this is not a debate over if we need new fields, but how we go about it.

I’d like to go over some specific concerns we have about the Tamaques site plan:

-Safety: The proposed parking and fields in the park would significantly increase park traffic, exacerbating an already hazardous situation for pedestrians, and further diminishing the parks use for walkers, joggers and bikers.

-Field house: This is a desperately needed amenity, but as proposed it sits in the middle of the park, and at almost 9,000 square feet it has the potential to overwhelm it. We also want to ensure that it’s projected cost of $2MM, which is almost 30 percent of the entire project, is the most efficient use of taxpayer dollars.

-Fencing: The 4-6’ proposed fence surrounding the turf fields significantly changes the open space nature of the park.

-Change of use: This proposal essentially changes Tamaques from a public park to a recreation facility. That’s a really big deal, and may be appropriate, but is a determination that would typically be the outcome of a parks master plan with significant public input from all users.

After speaking with Gary and Don, and the new town council members, we’ve agreed to accelerate the Parks Master Plan so it happens concurrently with the town master plan, allowing input in real time.

It’s our understanding that these fields as proposed wouldn’t be ready for play until fall 2019/spring 2020 assuming a process without delay, and an approval for funding by the council that has not yet happened. The net result of our proposal would be a publicly vetted project, with a potentially better outcome and support from the council and a projected potential completion date of fall 2020. And as an aside, the leagues would not need to pay for that study out of user fees because it’s a cost the town would be incurring as part of the master plan anyway.

In my two months in municipal government I have learned that we often end up settling for a lot of things because it’s so hard to get things done. Well we’re not interested in settling. Not if we don’t have to. And you in turn should hold us accountable for our commitment to you.

This town council is looking forward to supporting Gary and Don as they lead this process on behalf of the community to bring more fields to Westfield.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer. Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Westfield

Scotch Plains-Fanwood School System Alerts Parents About Possible Child Luring Incident

June 15, 2018

SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ — Scotch Plains-Fanwood school district sent a letter to parents on Friday regarding a possible attempted child abduction/luring at Park Middle School.

"We are looking at this as a suspicious incident because we don't know if there was malicious intent. There was no attempt to follow the boy or physically pull him into the car," said ...

Synopsis of Westfield Board of Education Meeting on June 12, 2018

June 14, 2018

Board President Gretchan Ohlig presented resolutions on behalf of the Board of Education to secondary school staff members who received awards of excellence this spring. They included Michele Belz and Dominick Ceccio - teachers of special education at Edison and Roosevelt Intermediate Schools, respectively -  as recipients of this year’s Optimist Club’s Intermediate School ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_5dd1a9491eca98aed646_best_79fa8c672d731919f994_tap_building

Tue, June 19, 7:00 PM

Westfield Municipal Building, Westfield

Westfield Town Council Meeting

Community Calendar Government

Carousel_image_0fcaafb85e2e2677157f_img_5705_-_westfield_boe_2

Tue, June 19, 7:30 PM

BOE Administration Building, Westfield

Regular Meeting of Board of Education of Westfield

Education

Westfield Police Blotter: Tires Slashed on Scotch Plains Ave & More

June 13, 2018

June 6, 2018 3:05 p.m.

A resident of the 200 block of sunset avenue reports being the victim of a fraud. Unknown actor(s) utilized victims credit card to purchase an appliance valued at $1,000.00. Victim did not sustain any monetary loss during this incident. 

June 6, 2018 6:50 a.m.

A resident of the 100 block of Scotch Plains Avenue reports being the victim of a criminal mischief.

Troop 77 Eagle Scouts Benefit Bernice’s Place

June 18, 2018

Four boy scouts from Troop 77 in Westfield who recently achieved the rank of Eagle Scout chose Bernice’s Place as the recipient organization of their Eagle Scout projects. Bernice’s Place is part of the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless and is an afterschool and summer program for elementary school-age children who are homeless or at-risk, offering a safe and supportive place ...

Westfield 3rd Graders Receive Top Honors at Mock Trial Competition

Westfield third graders recently received top honors for three mock court cases they presented at the New Jersey Bar Foundation Law Fair.

“I am proud that, out of 84 entries submitted, our third grade students (now fourth graders) in the Gifted Program have won 1st Place, 2nd Place and Honorable Mention in the 3rd Grade category [of the Law Fair ...

How Divorce or Separation Impacts Your Financial Life

Undeniably, divorce will have a significant effect on your life and especially your finances. There are around 800,000 divorces in the United States each year, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Here's how to enter into the situation financially informed.

Know The Costs Sooner Rather Than Later
It’s never too early to gather information on how much money ...

Maximizing Your Portfolio’s Returns -- Beware the Taxman

The old adage in the investment world is that it is not what you make, but what you keep that counts.  Investors often overlook the ultimate deflator of portfolio returns – the taxman. An astute global asset allocation should be the number one priority for investors.  However, there are preferred ways to distribute this asset allocation over the spectrum of taxable and ...

Greatness

In honor of the Lubavitcher Rebbe's (of righteous memory) 24th  Yahrtzeit (anniversary of his passing) this coming Saturday the 16th.

Excerpts from an address given by Nobel-laureate Elie Wiesel on April 7, 1992, at a congressional dinner held in Washington on the occasion of the Rebbe's 90th birthday.

Some of you are aware of my admiration, not only ...

Healthy U Spring Symposium Marks 10 Years of Community Impact

WESTFIELD, NJ — More than 100 Healthy U champions and partners from YMCAs and schools from all over the state gathered at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford on May 18 to celebrate 10 years of community impact. Healthy U was also formally presented with the 2017 CATCH® Award for Excellence in State Health. 

CATCH (Coordinated Approach to Child Health) is the ...

18 Homes Sold Week of June 3-10 in Westfield and Surrounding Towns

18 Home Sold week of June 3-10, 2018 In Westfield, Scotch Plains, Fanwood, Mountainside and Cranford

TOWN               ADDRESS                ...

Is Summer Camp the Right Choice for My Child?

Is your child attending camp this summer? Is it their first experience away?  If yes, it can be an experience causing anxiety for you, for the parent and the child. 

This experience can be frightening to your child if it is their first time and it is so important that they do not see your worry or anxiety about leaving home for the first time… especially if it is sleep ...

AtlantiCast

AtlantiCast: Episode 16

Summer is in the air, and the latest episode of AtlantiCast is ready to help you enjoy some fun outdoors while staying safe! This week’s episode opens with tips for sunscreen usage from Atlantic Health System’s Chief Medical and Academic Officer, Dr. Jan Schwarz-Miller. You’ll also learn about how Atlantic Health System is advancing the future of health care through ...

Bridgewater Mall Shut Down for 2 Hours After Fight Breaks Out

June 14, 2018

BRIDGEWATER, NJ — No injuries have been reported after a fight involving a crowd of people shut down the Bridgewater Commons Mall for two hours Thursday evening.

According to a Nixle alert from the Bridgewater Township Police Department at 9 p.m., the investigation at the mall has been completed, and the mall was resuming normal business operations.

According to Somerset County ...

Obituaries

Eric Lieberman, 47, of Scotch Plains, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly Tuesday, May 22, 2018 ...
Read more