Letters to the Editor

Mayor Brindle on Tamaques Park Field Renovations

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

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 or anyone who works for 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 Teen Leads Effort to Create Union County March for Our Lives

March 19, 2018

UNION, NJ – Students from all over Union County will be walking from Burnet Middle School to Town Hall on Saturday morning, March 24, in an anti-gun violence march.

Led by steering committee chairman Colin Sumner, the march, which has the support of Senator Joseph Cryan, Moms Demand Action, Union County Chapter and the Union County Freeholders, is not aimed at taking away guns, but ...

Mayor Brindle’s Update, Feb. 13

March 14, 2018

The following are highlights from the update that Mayor Shelley Brindle gave at Tuesday night’s town council meeting.

Last week’s back to back nor’easters left a wave of destruction that Westfield hasn’t experienced since Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Three thousand homes lost power. Over 40 roads were closed due to downed wires and/or trees. Our police responded to ...

Upcoming Events


Mon, March 19, 7:30 PM

Board of Education Building, Westfield

Westfield Board of Education Meeting



Fri, March 23, 12:00 PM

Resolve, Scotch Plains

Free Teen Anxiety Group (Ages 14-17) at Resolve

Sat, March 24, 10:00 AM

Burent Middle School , Union

Union County Wide - March for Our Lives

Government Law & Justice

Westfield Police Blotter: DWI, Reported Fraud & More

March 14, 2018

March 7, 2018 2:06 a.m.

Carlos C. Mendoza, age 33, of Garwood, NJ, was arrested on the strength of three Westfield Municipal Court warrants ($750) pursuant to a traffic stop in the area of South Avenue in Scotch Plains. Subject was transported to Westfield Police HQ where he was processed and refused after posting bail.


March 9, 2018 2:09 p.m.

A resident of Sandra Circle ...

Wardlaw+Hartridge Middle Schoolers Adapt, Strategize at Science Bowl

March 19, 2018

Members of the Middle School Math & Science Club at The Wardlaw + Hartridge School in Edison participated in the NJ Regional Science Bowl at Princeton Physics Plasma Lab.

Students Aarush Dharayan, Shreya Dharayan, Zain Zaidi, Andrew Bao, Kunal Patel, Ametij Sappal, Annie and Victoria Xu of Edison, Shankari Theivanayagam of Summit, and Nicholas Parlavecchio ’24 were accompanied by ...

Charitable Spirit Alive and Well in Westfield Public Schools

Students, staff and parents in Westfield Public Schools continue the district’s long tradition of helping others both in and outside of the community, with a number of students recently recognized for their efforts.

Fifteen Westfield High School juniors and sophomores were honored by the Community Food Bank of New Jersey for collecting more than 5,000 pounds of food items for families in ...


AtlantiCast: Episode 13

On this episode of AtlantiCast, new clinical studies in the fields of cardiology and immunotherapy, national and statewide recognitions for Atlantic Health System medical centers and the inaugural AtlantiCast Collab Challenge!


8 Homes Sold Last Week in Westfield, Scotch Plains, Fanwood, Cranford and Mountainside

Eight homes sold last week, March 4 to March 11, 2018, in Westfield, Scotch Plains, Fanwood, Cranford and Mountainside.*


 TOWN                  ADDRESS             ...

The Day After

Some years ago, the United Nations held the International Summit on Sustainable Development, here in Johannesburg. The Summit was a great success. One wonders, though, whether all the wonderful decisions and resolutions that were adopted were ever implemented. In other words, were they themselves sustainable?

Good ideas and worthwhile projects are suggested regularly. The question is, do they ...

How to Stay Connected to Your Partner After a Newborn

March 11, 2018

Life changes instantly once we have a newborn.  It is one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences a couple can have. It brings joy and a newfound commitment to the relationship and now to a family of three. Grandparents, family and friends are eager to get involved with helping and visiting. Responsibilities increase, expenses increase and privacy decreases. Our routine ...

'Trying' explores age, youth and points of history in poignant production

‘Trying’ explores youth, age and points of history in poignant production

By Liz Keill

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – The George Street Playhouse presents an engrossing, two-character play based on the real life of Francis Biddle, former Attorney General.

Biddle, a Harvard educated lawyer, served under Franklin Roosevelt and later Harry Truman during the Nuremberg Tribunal. His ...

Profit from Recent Volatility with Stock Market Bargains

Markets retreated in February, the worst down month in two years. A record surge in volatility caused several ETFs designed as leveraged bets on low volatility to plunge, with at least one being forced to liquidate and hand its investors a near total loss.

The Causes of February’s Market Retreat

The initial catalyst for the sell off was inflation. The January jobs report showed ...


Kathleen Marie Christian (nee Helmstetter), age 73 of Surf City, NJ, passed away peacefully at home ...
Read more

Health Alert: Child with Measles Traveled to Newark Airport on March 12

March 15, 2018

TRENTON, NJ — If you were at Newark Liberty International Airport on Monday, March 12 between 12:45 and 9 p.m., you may have been exposed to measles and should contact your health care provider.

The New Jersey Department of Health has issued a public health alert after a child with a confirmed case of measles — a highly contagious disease — arrived in Terminal B at ...