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Fields Plan Info Offered, Referendum Set for Jan. 22

BOE communications committee says district website and community groups will spread word of fields election.

With less than a month before residents vote Jan. 22 on a bond referendum question to approve plans for $7.7 million in improvements to athletic facilities at Parsippany and Parsippany Hills high schools, the Parsippany-Troy Hills Board of Education has laid out its communication plan for disseminating information to voters.

Board member Susy Golderer, who heads the communications committee, recommended during the board’s Dec. 20 meeting that all official information about the referendum should come intially from the board.

One of the chief tools the board will use, she said, is the district’s website, which was uploaded with referendum information following the meeting. The website now has links to the PHS and PHHS project scopes and layouts for both high school fields, a PowerPoint presentation outlining the plan, voting information and a question-and-answer document.

“There are some questions that do need to be addressed,” Golderer said. “We do need to have exact numbers on the website, such as what maintenance costs will be.”

A website document offering questions and answers includes the average homeowner cost of $30 per year for 10 years, information about other local districts with artificial fields, timeframes and financial information regarding field replacement, the safety of artificial fields, reasoning behind having multi-use fields and explanation of the disparity between the board’s plan and the similar plan proposed by the mayor in 2011.

Additionally, both Golderer and board President Frank Calabria said the board will pass the news on to local seniors and community groups (including the Kiwanis Club of Greater Parsippany and the  Rotary Club of Parsippany-Troy Hills) that have expressed interest in disseminating information.

Golderer said this strategy is preferable to calling another special meeting to discuss the referendum.

“We can set a Tuesday and say, ‘We’re going to be here and answer any questions,’” Golderer said. “I can tell you 10 people are going to show up. The other 59,000 members of the public will say they didn’t know about it.”

Some residents expressed dismay during the meeting that much of this information had not been available earlier. Some, such as former board member Bob Crawford, urged residents not to rely solely on the board for information.

“You are way behind the ball in letting us know what it is you want to do,” Crawford said during the meeting. “I strongly encourage people here to not put all your eggs in this basket in terms of this board, in the next 15 [business] days being able to communicate to this community why we should spend $7 million on two fields.”

Resident Bob Venezia said he had asked months ago about the annual maintenance expenses for each field.

Paul Saxton, the district’s interim director of personnel, said that he has installed four fields throughout his career and that $400,000 per field over 10 years is an accurate estimate.

Venezia said he would like to see the annual cost breakdown included in the referendum.

Some residents also posed questions that board members said it and the district would look into, such as resident Peter Bradley’s query about the incremental cost to operate the fields.

“We want to get an accurate figure first before we give a definitive answer,” Calabria said.

The plan requiring the referendum vote calls for the installation of synthetic turf fields at both high schools, along with running tracks, new storm water management, new lighting and new public restrooms.

Saxton said during the meeting that, in his experience, synthetic fields have had about 1,800 uses in the first three months, in comparison to grass fields that get used around 120 times over 10 years.

The board holds its reorganization meeting Thursday at 8 p.m. at the administration building at 292 Parsippany Road. New member James Carifi is set to be sworn in at the final gathering scheduled prior to the Jan. 22 referendum vote.

Analli Citall January 02, 2013 at 08:48 PM
Mark, I believe the BOE went out of their way to put this to a vote in the dead of winter when almost no one would show up. Then they are only using community groups (such as the same sports groups that support the plan) to get the word out. Even the power point slide show and the Q&A on the BOE site is slanted towards a yes vote. This is all a sham and a waste of tax payer dollars.
Beth Bluj January 02, 2013 at 08:55 PM
If the vast majority of the town doesn't know about it - it's because they choose not to get involved in what is going on in their community. This topic has been in the forefront of the news for the better part of a year. It's up to the citizen to get involved - not for the BOE or the town to go and find them. The BOE meetings are announced in advance; same as the town council meetings.
Beth Bluj January 02, 2013 at 09:08 PM
This topic has been played over and over and over and over again for a year. It's time to stop this ridiculous cycle and finally get something done. In 20 days it will be in the hands of the voters - let the voters decide and then hopefully we will never have to have this conversation again. @Analli - of course the power point slide show is slanted towards a yes vote - why else would the BOE be doing this if they didn't want a yes vote?
Analli Citall January 02, 2013 at 09:12 PM
@Beth, I understand your point but I wish that they would present facts and let the tax payers decide. Trying to influence someone with emotion or drivel is just annoying and not needed. If the proposal can't stand on its own then it may not be a good proposal for all tax payers.
Chris January 02, 2013 at 09:12 PM
YES
John Haskel January 02, 2013 at 09:14 PM
Enough already! When the town wanted to do it, you said the BOE should do it and it should go to referendum. Now the BOE IS doing it and it IS going to a referendum. So why are you against it now? What leg do you have to stand on except for your constant disdain for Dr Seitz. You only attack individuals. You are a negative person who should take a very long hard look in the mirror and realize that this is all a personal vendetta. You are now trying to deprive our current and future students of something they DESERVE! I'd like to see you actually fight FOR something instead of AGAINST everything for a change. That would be something.
Harland January 02, 2013 at 09:30 PM
Hi Beth, Of course, another option would be to align this referendum vote with the annual elections. This would ensure that the largest number of residents actually vote on the referendum. Given the games played by the BOE in the past, it isn't surprising that the other people posting comments are skeptical about the reasons behind the "special vote". There is absolutely no reason why this couldn't have waited until next November.
Beth Bluj January 02, 2013 at 10:18 PM
Fortunately, the taxpayers will have a chance to decide on January 22. If it does not pass, then it will have to be back to the drawing board and unfortunately it will be another year or so before anything gets done. Is that really what anyone wants? These fields are horrendous and need to be addressed. There is finally a real solution being presented here. Yes, there is a small tax implication. However, if anyone thinks that doing nothing is going to save them tax dollars they should think again. If anyone thinks that these fields do not need to be updated; I urge you to take a walk around both High Schools and really look at the conditions before you vote. This plan will bring our current fields to a level not unlike most of our neighbors in Morris County, will enhance our school system, and will have an over-all positive impact on the town. No one can argue that nice, well kept, schools that offer great facilities in and out, can do anything but help a town. Putting down turf to make the fields multi-use, replacing worn out, pitted tracks, replacing rusted, dangerous fences, making facilities ADA compliant, and putting in real bathrooms is certainly not a 'luxury sports complex', it's a 21st century high school field that is 13 years over due in this town.
Beth Bluj January 02, 2013 at 10:27 PM
Hi Harland: While I can understand your comment about games played, this was certainly no game. This has been at the forefront for the better part of a year.The public was made aware of this 'special vote' in, I believe, August. That has given anyone who is interested time to come out to meetings, ask questions, and make decisions. The vote is January 22, there has been plenty of talk, talk and more talk about this referendum. Again, it is up to the citizen to get involved and informed and go out and vote - even if it is the middle of January.
Bob Crawford January 02, 2013 at 11:52 PM
John You are absolutely right. I strongly advocated against Mayor Barberio controlling the FOD decision and against using Open Space money to fund what I believed to be a matter that should be put before the voters with control of the fields remaining with the BOE. I, and a number of other concerned citizens, fought for that to happen and last summer that path was unanimously chosen by the BOE. What hasn't happened since then is an informative and open discussion led by the Superintendent and/or the BOE that would provide an opportunity for voters to ask questions so at to better understand the pros and cons of the upcoming referendum. As I am sure you will agree an informed electorate is worth fighting for.and I invite you to join that fight.
clyde donovan January 03, 2013 at 02:01 AM
Every time "sick of trolls" posts it's never about an issue. It's always to bash a person. In some cases it appears to be internet stalking, a federal crime.
clyde donovan January 03, 2013 at 02:06 AM
The whole field proposal - either by the township or the BOE - is a huge waste of money that is going to raise your taxes and make your house worth less. The children do not need professional-style sports fields. What;s next? Will we need luxury Mercedes-Benz school buses to take the kiddies to school?
Chris January 03, 2013 at 02:45 AM
Clyde, you seem so angry. The fields need repair and turf is the best option. It allows the field to be used by more than just one sports team day after day after day. It will allow gym classes to use the space. So actually, the land will be used much more frequently which provides value to the tax payers. You really don't understand what is going on currently, do you? The BOE pays money, "tax dollars" to bus soccer teams, football teams, baseball teams, bands and field hockey teams to Jannarone Park or Smith Field (turf) to practice because the school fields can't be used over and over. Is there a cost, yes, about 30 dollars per household per quarter, about .09 cents per day. You can't fork over .09 cents per day for 10 years to provide our kids and future kids the same facilities that most of our neighbors in Morris County currently have. Really?
Mark January 03, 2013 at 03:06 AM
Chris may just have a great point, but I'm more inclined to vote against anything this mayor and his buddies put forth because I disapprove of the way they go out pretty much everything. Holding a referendum on one item on Jan. 22 does not exactly sound like leaders that are eager to stand behind what they propose. It's a tactic as old as whenever the first time any entrenched political body decided to hold a referendum. You give the populous the illusion that they are being consulted, but at the end of the day you know not enough people will go to the polls to overcome your superior get out the vote efforts. Perhaps that is a jaded and cynical way to view things, but if you aren't jaded and cynical watching the way government (at all levels) operates in this country then you're not paying enough attention.
VietNam Vet January 03, 2013 at 08:25 AM
The best option here would be to have a few other pros look at these fields and give their opinions instead of speitz taking just one, becaause they worked with them in the past is not a good reason. It should've gone out for an open bid, then take the lowest bid. Is Mr. speitz taking this one for personal reasons or gains? No body knows and probably won't know either unless a full investigation is done, but he won't allow that either, so what is he hiding? The truth is they know these fields can be re-done much cheaper than the way they want to go. It will cost the taxpayers for years to come for these fields and then for many years more for the maintenence afterwards, which we all know they will not keep up with because they have already established that. So why are we even concidering these fields when we know it will cost the taxpayers forever with payments and up keep costs. I urge everyone of the seniors and other real concerned residents to get out and vote against this joke.
VietNam Vet January 03, 2013 at 08:29 AM
Clyde, this project is a big joke to screw the taxpayers out of some more money again for many years to come, and if anyone thinks otherwise they are fooling themselves. I will not vote for this joke and urge everyone else to vote "NO"!
VietNam Vet January 03, 2013 at 08:32 AM
Clyde, don't pay any attention to this " SICK" idiot, thats what he wants, he likes to trash people that doesn't think like him, come to think of it...thats just like a demoncrap thinks.
Mike January 03, 2013 at 10:32 AM
The seniors won't or can't get out in the winter. Taxes will go up and it says for only ten years. What happens after ten years when the fields need to be replaced? Then after ten years of thirty plus dollars a year you won't see your tax rate go down that amount. Once they get your money you will never see it again.
Mike January 03, 2013 at 10:38 AM
These are the same people that didn't look into the football coaches credentials. So why even trust them on what they supposedly know.
Beth Bluj January 03, 2013 at 01:22 PM
Hi Mark: While I can sympathize with your feelings towards government (more so at the national level), I ask that you please don't vote 'no' just because you don't like the persons(s) in charge. Please go take a walk around the fields and really try to grasp what is being done and why. I have been at this with the town and the BOE for a year. This is one of the most non-political things ever accomplished. They actually listened to the public and put this out to a referendum. They also listened to the public when we asked them not to wait any longer and to hold a special election. If you walk around the fields; you will have a better understanding of why this is being voted on in January instead of waiting another whole year. If this passes, the fields should be ready by this Fall. If the vote went to next November, there would have to be extensive money put into repairing the fields to make them last another year. It would be another year of busing kids to other fields. It would be another year of lost revenue because we cannot host more NJSIAA events. It would be another year that people with disabilities cannot come to sporting events. All I ask from you is that you vote with an open mind on what is trying to be accomplished. If, after walking around the fields and seeing their condition, you can truly say that this is a waste of taxpayer money, then vote how you see fit. But please don't vote no just out of spite. Thank You.
Sick of the trolls January 03, 2013 at 02:18 PM
Hey, "clyde," congratulations! You learned a new word. Now go look up it's definition to see why you're wrong.
Sick of the trolls January 03, 2013 at 02:21 PM
Hey, Mr. Brown, how about you post your replies on the relevant thread, ok? By the way, do you not see the irony in your saying that I bash people for not thinking the same way, and then calling me a "demoncrap"? How is anyone supposed to take you seriously?
Sick of the trolls January 03, 2013 at 02:23 PM
Oh, "clyde," your ignorance is profound. Nobody is talking about building Giant's stadium here. Get with the program or get out of the conversation, will you? And for your information, Mercedes does make buses that most of the rest of the world uses. Their diesel engines are not only relatively inexpensive but extremely efficient and reliable.
Sick of the trolls January 03, 2013 at 02:26 PM
Mr. Brown, who is this speitz person you keep talking about? I don't think he had anything to do with the process. As to your concern about cost, if we were paying what it would cost to keep up the fields we have, this wouldn't be an issue. But it would cost many times more to do that than to replace the fields entirely, so which do you think is the best fiscal option? Maybe read the proposal before you go blaming people who only exist in your twisted brain next time.
Jonathan Hemenway January 03, 2013 at 05:13 PM
Oh my god! To sit here and read through all these posts just makes me sad as a resident of Parsippany. No one seems or even want to work together to get things done in this town. There are people on here whose personal views on our BOE cloud their views on what is needed. Is there a better way to go about making this FOD happen? Maybe. We have had proposals from the town and from the BOE and yet people are still not happy with anything. If you have been following along with this whole process most people should be able to find any information to answer their questions. There is this new thing called the Internet and it will help you answers all your questions. If you are not happy because you feel the MAN is bringing you down that is your business and just vote "no". I personally will be voting YES to this because I will have kids going to these schools in the future and I believe by just seeing the current state of the fields that these schools have long deserved to have these fields. If you feel differently then so be it and just vote no and we will see where the chips fall.
Peter B January 06, 2013 at 07:30 PM
Jonathan, On January 1st I presented my questions to the BOE via the instructions provided on the web site. No reply in any form as of today. I fully agree the matter should be brought to the public, but the BOE has not done much to make the residents aware of the referendum and the very unusual voting day Jan 22nd. The fields can be improved and maintained at a fraction of the the $7.7M cost. Did anyone notice, the BOE cannot or chooses not to tell us what the added operating costs will be? The BOE could reach out to the neighboring homes and let them know of the plan, and how it will or will not impact thier quality of life. That has not been done, I believe because it would not get the support they want. We have 3 lighted turf fields in Parsippany. The County has plans to add 4 more at Central Park (Greystone Hosp). Who can support spending $7.7M + operating costs, for 2 more fields? Step back and look at this from a taxpayer point of view...This is insane.
Chris January 06, 2013 at 09:47 PM
Mr Bradley, you of all people should not compare a "town" field to a "BOE" field. As I recall, you were against the town being involved because of the added usage of "out of towners" and said you would support a field improvement handled by the BOE. Now you are saying this is "insane". How do you propose that the fields, that children of our town use, get a real improvement. You speak of increased costs? I have to disagree. The maintenance cost would be significantly reduced. The cost of busing our children to town fields to practice would be significantly reduced. Is $.09 per day too much to ask for? Operating costs? Please be more specific. Jannarone Park's turf field is 10 years old and in fine condition and with very little regular maintenance.
Bob Crawford January 06, 2013 at 11:40 PM
Whether you support or do not support the Referendum that will be held on January 22nd Parsippany residents should be concerned about the Superintendent's and Board's ongoing failure to provide the community with sufficient and timely information about their decision to ask Parsippany voters to approve the expenditure of $7.7 million . Whether it is another example of their casual and careless stewardship of the public's best interests or is simply a case of gross incompetence the very real perception that the Superintendent and the BOE have failed to consider other options (to resolve the condition of the High School fields) and their dogged determination to hold a hush hush referendum in the dead of winter should concern the proponets of the field improvements. Peter B you are right to think the Board's current approach verges on insanity Chris you have every right to wonder why, at this late date, arguments such as the one Peter B makes have yet to be answered. Time is running short and secrecy and silence may not prove to be a winning combination as voters go to the polls on January 22nd.
g January 09, 2013 at 03:35 PM
Clyde just add to the $7,700,000 the annual maintenance costs: Mike Richardson, a horticulture and turf specialist at the University of Arkansas, said that companies regularly inflate the cost of maintaining a grass field, and downplay the cost of keeping up an artificial turf field. He said that the cost of an artificial field, plus its annual maintenance over 10 years, totals $800,000 or more. "I challenge you to find one high school athletic program that's spending $80,000 a year" to maintain a grass field, he said.
g January 09, 2013 at 04:05 PM
Why do we put so much attention on athletic fields and so little attention to the education of the students: From the list of the 2012 Top High Schools Parsippany Hills from 50 in 2010 to 23 in 2012. Although Parsippany seems to have shown great improved, how did this happen when Parsippany High School and 10 other schools—the district would not reveal which—failed to meet Adequate Yearly Progress benchmarks in Language Arts Literacy and Mathematics, according to Interim Curriculum and Instruction Director Ruth Anne Estler.? The answer is quite simple. You water down the Federal no child left beheind. The Obama administration announced that 10 states, including New Jersey, were granted waivers from having to adhere to federal No Child Left Behind standardized testing benchmarks. The waiver comes at a fortunate time for Parsippany. Eleven of the district's 14 schools did not meet federal Adequate Yearly Progress standards as of the end of the last school year. How do you get higher standing in the top schools in New Jersey? You water down the federal No Child Left Behind standardized testing benchmarks. It sure looks like manipulation, so that teachers get raises and our students get the artificial turf.

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