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Council Talks Fields of Dreams, Honors DeCroce

Among other business, the council honors the memory of Assemblyman Alex DeCroce.

The Township Council met for its first regular meeting of 2012 and addressed a number of issues, including the proposed and  leftover. The gathering took place Tuesday night at .

Julia Peterson of the Historic Preservation Advisory Committee, during the meeting's public comment portion, stood to register her concerns over the proposal to use Open Space Trust Funds to pay for the installation of artificial turf fields at and s.

"I understand the pros of building artificial turf fields, although there are significant environmental and health concerns that must be addressed," Peterson said. "However, I do not believe that school fields should be paid for with monies collected for a different purpose, nor do I believe that the town should control the use of the high school fields."

She added that the purchase could lead to regrets over a future lack of open space in Parsippany.

"Athletic fields are not the same thing as open space," she noted. "The fields should be funded some other way, if they are considered necessary."

Township Attorney John Inglesino said that Parsippany residents gave the administration the power to use open space funds for recreation improvements via a 2006 voter referendum. 

"That's the way the legislators wrote the law," the lawyer said. "Legally, Township Council has the right and authority to utilize a portion of the funds for turf fields."

Inglesino also said that in order for those monies to be employed for the fields, the township must have a legal interest—at least 51 percent controlling interest—over the fields. That control would have to be ceded by the , which may discuss that possibility and may even vote on that notion at its next meeting, scheduled for Thursday at 7 p.m. at Parsippany Hills High School. The matter also may be discussed at the next Open Space Committee meeting. That body is slated to gather at Town Hall on Thursday at 5 p.m. The public is invited to attend both meetings.

Two big issues—the continuation of reorganization and the approval of AlphaDog Solutions, the township webmaster—were okayed by Council in the proverbial eye's blink. The members voted on numerous matters all at once under an omnibus Consent Agenda.

Among the approved actions:

  • Inglesino's contract as Township Attorney was renewed for 2012 with no fee increase.  According to Business Administrator Jasmine Lim, Inglesino is paid a retainer of $21,500 for attending council meetings and offering legal advice. He also receives $150 per hour "for legal services" and $220 per hour if said services involve matters requiring public finance expertise.
  • Lim was appointed the town's Fund Commissioner for the . Her alternate will be Robert Strechay, administrator for the Zoning Board of Adjustment.
  • The council gave final authorization to a year-long . Under the pact, the company gets $1,890 per month for its professional services.

After the vote, Internet professional Jonathan Nelson presented evidence that Belleville-based AlphaDog has stock photos on Parsippany.net that violate copyrights of the photos' true owners.

Patch took a look at the site and found that Nelson's contentions were true: Photos found on the website by AlphaDog CEO Michael Melham can be found on other sites. One example is a shot of a calculator and pen found on a website in India. That same photo was on the township home page under the heading "2011 Tax Assistance."  

Update: Patch learned during late afternoon Wednesday that Melham has removed the questionable photos from the municipal site.

An early portion of the Township Council meeting was given over to honors. 

Mayor Barberio presented representatives of , , and the 's Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services with Outstanding Achievement Award certificates for their efforts assisting Parsippany residents impacted by .

, the area committee that raised money throughout 2011 to purchase town holiday decorations, presented a check for $300 to the township's Public Assistance Trust Fund. The money is earmarked to assist families still suffering because of the flooding in lower Hiawatha. The committee collected the funds through a number of fundraising events, including a Christmas in July party and a winter Snowflake Festival.

The Council also noted the . The veteran legislator, who lived in Parsippany, died suddenly Sunday night at the Statehouse immediately following the end of the assembly's final vote of its session.

"His passing caught us off-guard," said Council President Brian Stanton, who called for a moment of silence for DeCroce.

"He was a great leader, great mentor and great friend," said Vice President Vincent Ferrara, reading from a statement. "His legacy will remain with us."

The Township Council meets for its next agenda meeting at Town Hall on Feb. 7 at 7:30 p.m.

Hank Heller January 16, 2012 at 11:43 PM
Bob, Let's communicate without telling each other to "stick" anything. Some neighbors seem to have decided what should be done about the fields and how to fund it. I AM for getting rid of the Open Space taxes, if we do not have any open spaces to buy in Parsippany. Additionally, we do not know enough about turf fields and what their benefits are and should cost. If the fields are in poor repair, let's fix them so they can be used. If our track teams cannot host dual meets because we are missing a lane, add the lane. We are using bad reasoning for pushing this project much too fast. We are seeing our politicians "buying" future votes by going along with the "recreation" groups, at the entire community's expense! Twisting the intent of Open Space funds is wrong. The kids may not get the benefits the "recreation" groups are promised. The taxpayers money will be spent, we'll have a new obligation to keep funding as fields wear and folks who live near those fields will have less joy in their properties. Your comment that all participants will benefit is just as true if the current fields are fixed properly. I don't want you to buy the fields. I just don't want to pay for changes that only benefit some people. My comment about kids feeling good about themselves has to do with the parents who claimed at public meetings that our kids do not perform well because they are embarrassed or ashamed of our facilities. I'm glad your kids were raised well. Hank Heller
Bob Taylor January 16, 2012 at 11:47 PM
Bob Crawford, Is that not what the BOE pays the ADs at each school to do; schedule the teams including fields when not on school grounds (i.e. town fields). If they need to hire someone then let me know. I can not claim to know all the activities at the schools outside of the ones you mention so my opinion on the scheduling is limited. I would schedule varsity games first, JV & Freshmen games next, followed-by Marching Band to prepare for an upcoming competition, and then practice last. Rotate the practice and game schedule, so each activity gets equal time on it. For example, if soccer was moved to the turf on Tuesday, then Field Hockey can be moved to the turf on Thursday to play their games while the other goes to the town fields if the grass fields are unplayable (field hockey lost games, because of playing conditions and the soccer teams got the town turf first). Unfortunately football will always get priority for games over the other sports and activities as this is the only fields for playing games. Additionally the teams can practice together (all boys soccer teams, all field hockey teams, etc) or after each other or after a game; if any want to go into the night. Maybe the Marching Band would prefer this over the parking lot. I would schedule the other sports to play a couple of night games at their school just like other towns and PHS football do now. This would give parents a chance to watch their kid play at home.
Bob Crawford January 17, 2012 at 01:05 AM
Bob Taylor I would agree that the Athletic Directors at the High School should be responsible for determining the scheduling of the turf fields to ensure that all of Parsippany's student athletes will benefit from the turfing of the fields, To my knowledge that scheduling analysis has yet to be done and so claims that all student athletes will benefit from the turfing of the fields seems to be be a bit premature at best and untrue at worst.. Given the proposal to spend $4.5 million in tax payer funds to turf 2 high school fields let's be sure all of us understand the return on this multi million dollar investment before going forward.
TJ Ritter March 26, 2012 at 01:22 AM
http://parsippany.patch.com/articles/fod-walking-tour-scheduled-for-sunday#comments_list www,parsippanyunite.com FYI, there were no "FOD" members/supporters at this walkthrough today (3/25/12). It was very informative. We saw things that needed repair, saw things that probably did not need repair and saw things that raised more questions about the scope of work. The press was there and we would have loved to have had the "FOD" members/supporters there so we could discuss the project.
Chris March 26, 2012 at 02:51 AM
TJ, you and I have sat down and spoken. I would love to walk these fields with you. You know why I did not go today.

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