.

Mayor on Turf Plan: 'I Think It's in Limbo'

Barberio has sharp words for BOE at council meeting

Mayor James Barberio expressed his frustrations with what he sees as inaction regarding the so-called Fields of Dreams high school turf field proposal at the Parsippany Town Council agenda meeting at Tuesday night.

The mayor read into the record the text of the Tuesday afternoon. Then he expanded upon his written statement.

Noting that "the township and the council put a lot of time into the project and took a lot of shots," Barberio said it is time for the board to make a decision as to whether it will enter a partnership with the town and give up 51 percent of field control and usage of the football fields at and high schools or not.

"If you have reservations or don't want to do the project, fine," he said. "We're doing what the state has asked us to do—to have a shared service agreement.

"I know where the town stands. I don't know where the Board of Education stands."

He said that if the board does not step up, the township will leave the refurbishment of the fields to the schools and "go forward with Plan B."

Though the mayor would not specify what Plan B is, he did say there were "other avenues" for creating field space for youth sports teams and residents.
"There are other areas in town where we can build other fields, like Smith Field," he said.

Councilman Michael dePierro voiced his own concerns regarding the controversial proposal, which has been hotly debated since December.

"Twice in your statement, you said the town would have 51 percent usage," the veteran councilman said. "I was under the impression that we would have 51 percent control, not usage. I have problems with that. Once we upgrade the fields, school activities should take precedence over town activities. There are going to be a lot more school programs that want to use the fields.

"We should not be interfering with school activities."

Barberio countered that the town must insist upon having a majority interest in the land, which means "we have to have usage; we must have availability. This is what we're trying to work out."

Business Administrator Jasmine said Recreation Superintendent Joe Plescia devised several scenarios of schedules dividing field time in a way in which schools would have field use "basically in the morning to 9 at night on school days."

"We were still able to come up with 51 percent usage" for the town, she said.

The mayor said some on the school board would prefer a lease agreement. 

"I don't feel comfortable with anything but a conservation easement. I won't give up Open Space Trust Fund money for a lease," he said. 

DePierro noted that he supports the mayor's efforts and the concept behind the turf project.

Resident Hank Heller said he believed Barberio was "inaccurate" in saying the school board had voted on the turf proposal.

Board President Frank Calabria has said several times the body has not made a decision.

The mayor insisted the board supported the plan unanimously behind closed doors.

"If Dr. Calabria is stating that, that is not true," Barberio said. "Perhaps he doesn't remember. We moved forward because we had a unanimous vote."

Calabria said just last week the . The school board president has also told Patch that .

Heller also contested the mayor's statement that the turf plan would mean no tax increase to citizens.

"While there might not be any current tax increase, when you're bonding for 15 years and the [turf field] lasts 8-10 years, when it's time to replace it, you have to take [money] from current income or tax the citizens more," he said. "While you might be correct that there won't be a current town increase, it's sure that in the future citizens will have to play additional monies."

Barberio said that of course there would need to be monies spent down the line.

"Any time you build a field you have to expect to maintain it. But it's a lot easier [and less expensive] to maintain a turf field than a grass field," he said.

The mayor used the example of the upgrades being made to the town's sewer treatment plant, which he said spent taxpayer dollars but will end up saving money in the long run.

As for a BOE-township partnership, the mayor did not sound positive.

"I think this is in limbo," he said.

Residents brought up other concerns regarding the plan known as the Fields of Dreams. 

T.J. Ritter of , a nonprofit organization made up of three residents who question the turf project, told the board that a is underway.

The official complaint names Mayor Barberio, Council President Brian Stanton, Council Vice President Vincent Ferrara and BOE Sports Committee Chairman Sharif Shamsudin and accuses them of having conflicts of interest regarding the fields project.

Ritter suggested three options the town should take: postponing any action until the investigation is complete, having those facing charges recuse themselves from voting or "let 'em vote."

"Just know, [the state is] fully investigating you," Ritter warned.

He asked the council how it would proceed with the knowledge that Stanton and Ferrara are under investigation.

Attorney John Wyciskala, filling in for Town Attorney John Inglesino, refused to address the matter.

Resident Robert Simpson shared another concern regarding installing artificial turf at the high schools.

He mentioned a Brigham Young University study that focuses on what he called a downside of turf fields—temperature.

"They checked the temperatures of grass fields—78 degrees, concrete—94 degrees, asphalt—108 degrees, artificial turf—an average ranging from 117 degrees and a high of 156 degrees," he said.

Fields of Dreams Committee member Michael Pietrowicz scoffed at the report's findings.

"The Brigham Young study looks at fields in hot zones of the U.S.," he said. "We've used turf fields in Parsippany during the dog days of summer. We've had picnics with people running around with bare feet. There have been no temperature issues until October, when heat held in the turf attracts bees, but that's just New Jersey."

Pietrowicz, as he has done at several council meetings, praised the body for "publicly supporting" the proposal.

Councilman John Cesaro said he needs to "see an agreement first."

Barberio said he is looking to the next Board of Education meeting to see what comes next for the turf project.

"We'll see Thursday if the board and the town will be partners or not."

Bob Crawford May 09, 2012 at 10:58 AM
Mayor Barberio Strong arming the BOE and issuing those elected officals an ultimatum that they must decide on the FOD proposal by this Thursday reeks of desperation. Describing BOE President Dr. Frank Calabria as being untruthful or forgetful is unfortunate and does not bode well for the future of shared services between the municipality and the school district. Stating that you have a Plan B if the FOD proposal does not go through suggests an alternative option (that will not raise taxes) that you have not yet shared with the citizens of Parsippany or the BOE. Mayor Barberio the more you spin the dizzier we are all getting. How about the truth and some transparency?
Beth Bluj May 09, 2012 at 12:37 PM
Thank You Mayor Barberio for standing strong on the issue to help the kids of this town and to trying to bring our town into the 21st century with a shared services agreement. Also, thank you to those on the town council and BOE who are under investigation for ridiculous ethics charges by people who didn't even know who you were and didn't give a damn about these fields, until the word "lights" came into play, by their big houses, where they pay more taxes and think they deserve special treatment.
TJ Ritter May 09, 2012 at 01:25 PM
In case you were counting the number of times the word "thank you" was stated in the exchange between Mr. Pietrowicz and Mr. Cesaro...37. I will be setting the over/under at 43 for their next exchange if you care to place wagers.
Pete May 09, 2012 at 02:37 PM
The biggest downside is that these artificial-turf fields will wear out before the bond issue that pays for them runs halfway to maturity. So then what ? Borrow more money ? Seems to be a formula for default/bankruptcy/bailout. Limbo ? I think this issue belongs somewhere a bit warmer than that.
TJ Ritter May 09, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Classic Beth Bluj statement, "under investigation for ridiculous ethics charges by people who didn't even know who you were and didn't give a damn about these fields, until the word "lights" came into play, by their big houses, where they pay more taxes and think they deserve special treatment." I will break down your statements to shed some light on the situation and help you understand the issue. “ridiculous ethics charges” They are not ridiculous or frivolous as the Ethics Board has 1. deemed the charges to be not frivolous 2. the Ethics Board is fully investigating the complaint, not charges as you call them 3. the Ethics Board has asked us for more information with regards to certain individuals named in the complaint. “know who you were and didn't give a damn about these fields” Whether or not I knew who these people were before I launched the complaint is irrelevant. Whether or not I care about the fields is also irrelevant and is an ad hominem attack. “the word "lights" came into play” Not only is the word lights used on the FOD website but you and your husband also refer to what is being proposed as “stadiums”. I don’t see how lights make for a safer playing surface for the children.
TJ Ritter May 09, 2012 at 03:22 PM
“by their big houses, where they pay more taxes and think they deserve special treatment” I don’t ask for special treatment at all. I pay taxes just like everybody else and I have a voice just like everybody else. I am allowed to speak out on what I feel is a shady project with little to no transparency and has the appearance of conflict of interest and the appearance of impropriety. I’ll keep everyone posted on the ethics investigation and when we have a decision from the Ethics Board you will be one of the first people I will contact. I don’t care about the results one way or the other. I just want a neutral body to investigate what is going on in this town.
TJ Ritter May 09, 2012 at 03:24 PM
Oh and nearly forgot. Beth, can you please comment on this "bring our town into the 21st century with a shared services agreement." My question is this, I am not sure if you are aware but the Mayor actually CANCELLED a SSA between the Town and BOE a few months ago. The SSA called for the Town to pick up 60% of the cost for maintenance of the high school and middle school fields. I can't figure that one out for the life of me. Can you please shed some light on that? Thanks much.
Mark May 09, 2012 at 03:56 PM
This town has become a political circus. The mayor knows he is being disingenuous at best with his no taxes claim about these fields. A few questions from an astute resident, Mr. Heller, was all it took to back him off of it. And now he is calling Dr. Calabria a liar? His leadership leaves a lot to be desired (the kindest way I can put it).
TJ Ritter May 09, 2012 at 05:00 PM
“the word "lights" came into play” Not only is the word lights used on the FOD website but you and your husband also refer to what is being proposed as “stadiums”. I don’t see how lights make for a safer playing surface for the children. “by their big houses, where they pay more taxes and think they deserve special treatment” I don’t ask for special treatment at all. I pay taxes just like everybody else and I have a voice just like everybody else. I am allowed to speak out on what I feel is a shady project with little to no transparency and has the appearance of conflict of interest and the appearance of impropriety. I’ll keep everyone posted on the ethics investigation and when we have a decision from the Ethics Board you will be one of the first people I will contact. I don’t care about the results one way or the other. I just want a neutral body to investigate what is going on in this town.
Another point of view May 09, 2012 at 09:36 PM
Mr. Ritter, I have sat on the sidelines during this entire debate. I'm sick of your non-stop rants and threats. Beth is a good friend and Parsippany is a better place because of her and Tom. The BoE fields are a disgrace and they need an overhaul. The Mayor and Town Council have worked hard and proposed something that will benefit the entire town for generations to come, for my kids and everyone else. You made the decision to buy a home next to a high school. You can disagree and be upset or you can move. But put an end to your personal attacks and please tone down the anger.
TJ Ritter May 10, 2012 at 02:40 AM
@Another pont of view I usually don't write to people who hide behind fake screen names but I'll make an exception in this case because I am feeling nice. Please point out one, just one, "rant or threat" as you call it that I have made. If you do so I will formally apologize but I don't think you will be able to do that. You also said "But put an end to your personal attacks and please tone down the anger." Please point out one personal attack I have ever made. You won't be able to do that either. Actually quite the opposite. I have commended the Bluj's and Mr. Pietrowitcz for thw rowk they do in town and continue to commend them. You can also ask Chris Joyce as I have met with him personally in my backyard and applauded the work he does as well. So I would ask you kindly to tine down your rhetoric as it doesn't help anything. I speak in facts and you are speaking in made up generalizations. Have a great day anc check out www.parsippanyunite.com when you get a chance and feel free to make a donation to the legal fund.
parpardon May 10, 2012 at 03:04 AM
Bob Crawford, let's talk about strong arming the BOE. That is all you did when you were on the board of education. You were beligerent, rude and lacked any leadership. I don't think this is strong arming the BOE. They have sat on their butts and have said nothing. Also, I was at the BOE meeting when Dr. Calabria stated that the BOE unanimously voted for the concept. It's kind of funny how you are trying to protect the BOE that you constatnly attacked. Mr. Crawford this BOE is horrible. I must admit it was worse when you were on it. Talk about transparency. The BOE constantly goes to closed session. I don't think there is any desperation with the Mayor and Council. I was at the meeting last night. The Mayor never said Dr, Calbria was untruthful, you said it, The Mayor did say that Dr. Calabria must not have remembered. Like I said I was at the BOE meeting when Calabria said it was a unanimous vote. Let's face it the BOE doesn't want to share services. Mayor Barberio did mention plan B (Smith Field). Were you at the same meeting? Bob Crawford, you are by far the most untruthful person that has ever been elected. All you do is spin the issues.
parpardon May 10, 2012 at 05:03 AM
Pete, It is called wear and tear, If the turf last say 12 years do you think you are going to pay another 4 million? Of course not. It is called maintaining. Here is the point. If the BOE would have maintained the fields in the first place we would not be this situation.
parpardon May 10, 2012 at 05:17 AM
Mark, the Mayor in my opinion is not being disingenous. Hank Heller an astute resident. Now that is a joke. Here is a guy who at every BOE meeting is attached at the hip of Crawford and Strumolo. I go to Strumolo's gas station to get gas. The guy is an idiot. When you are getting gas he'll come out and lie about the Mayor and everything that is going on in town. Strumolo is actually a joke. Now to Hank Heller. Two questions from Hank Heller and the Mayor did not back off. He answered his question. By the way he didn't call Calabria a Liar, but the Mayor did say that he propbably forgot. Another thing Mark. When the Mayor gets asked a question he answers them and doesn't back down. Can't say that about the BOE. They are Zombies. By the way if Hank Heller is so astute maybe he should OPRA the repair work Strumolo did on the school buses.
Bob Crawford May 10, 2012 at 10:45 AM
Par Pardon Thought you would show up to start calling people names in an effort to move the conversation away from the issues and into personal attacks. Don't you and your benefactor(s) know by now that by doing that your comments simply confirm that the questions being asked are getting a bit too close to the truth for the Mayor's comfort. By the way I stand by everything I said in my earlier blog and encourage you to watch the tape of this week's Council meeting. And at which BOE meeting (that you attended) did Dr. Calabria state that the BOE unanimously supported the concept And was Dr Calabria allegedly talking about a "concept",an "agreement", or a "proposal". You see to cloud the issue all three of those very different terms are now being used to describe the status of the FOD. Also,please share what you know about Plan B with us because if the Mayor has an alternative solution that will not raise taxes then why hasn't he shared the details with Parsippany residents. Finally, how do you know, the BOE doesn't want to share services? Didn't the Mayor abandon the shared services agreement that was in place when he came into office to modify his budget at the overall expense of Parsippany taxpayers. Lots of issues so no need for the personal attacks. And my offer still stands for you to come by and introduce yourself at a BOE meeting or a Council meeting.
TJ Ritter May 10, 2012 at 11:30 AM
@parpardon Lovely way to hide behnd a fake screen name. Anyway, it all ends tonight at the BOE meeting. So you won't have to make any more posts behind fake screen names and make ridiculous statements. that are unfounded. Also if you would like to donate to the legal fund please visit www.parsippanyunite.com Have a smashing day.
TJ Ritter May 10, 2012 at 08:25 PM
@Parpardon, If you would like to donate to www.parsippanyunite.com please feel free to do so. But if you do we will need to know who you are so we can deposit the check into the bank account we set up for the non-for-profit. Have a lovely day.
parpardon May 11, 2012 at 10:10 AM
Bob Crawford, you are an expert on personal attacks. You were horrible as a BOE member. You couldn't get nothing done when you were on the BOE. In fact the BOE memebers are probably the worst I have ever seen. But, I will make a deal with you! I will come by and introduce myself if you respond to my past questions I have asked you and you have never responded to. You attended a Parsippany High School Football game. You went off on the Athletic Director by the concession stand. The bad part about it was that you used vulgar language at the top of your lungs in front of all the students. You were so out of control that your friend had to remove you to get you away. You were an embarassement, why because that is not how an elected offical should act. You are supposed to be a leader! In fact no one should act that way. You are suppose to lead by example. You continue to avoid answering the question. I will be waiting for your answer.
parpardon May 11, 2012 at 10:18 AM
TJ Ritter. As you must know by now that the BOE will put the Field of Dreams to referendum. Will you file ethics charges on all the residents of Parsippany who vote in favor of turfing the fields. What will be the compalint? Oh, it's a conflict of interest for a resident to be able to vote on turfing the high school fields that will be lighted because TJ Ritter doesn't like it. You might as well buy yourself a pair of sunglasses for the Lights and ear plugs for the noise.

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something