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Mayor May Get More Power Over Open Space Funds

If Fields of Dreams-motivated ordinance passes, some flood survivors could benefit.

In a Feb. 14 letter between Mayor James Barberio and Township Attorney John Inglesino, it appears Town Hall has come up with a way to link the with the plight of Lake Hiawatha flood survivors.

The Township Council is expected to consider on Tuesday a  and replace it with a Municipal Open Space, Recreation and Farmland and Historic Preservation Trust Fund.

That ordinance was discussed in Inglesino's missive, which was hand-delivered to the mayor hours before the .

In the letter, the lawyer said he believes the township legally can use Open Space Trust Fund monies to pay debt service on bonds created for the purpose of funding the so-called Fields of Dreams proposal. The project, using a conservative estimate, is expected to cost approximately $4.5 million.

According to Inglesino, the law also permits the municipality to expand its open space powers via ordinance.

The attorney told the mayor that in his legal opinion, Parsippany's government has done all that is necessary under law to use the open space money for the fields.  

From Inglesino's letter:

It is also our view that the record can and should be strengthened in this regard. Therefore, we advise the township to hold a public hearing and adopt an ordinance specifically expanding the permissible uses listed in its Open Space Ordinance to include all of the statutorily permitted purposes [that] were recently expanded to include Blue Acres projects which may also be included in such ordinance. This would permit the township to use open space funds to acquire properties that have been "substantially damaged" by natural disasters such as floods.

's unprecedented flood have been raised as an issue in the ongoing Fields of Dreams debate. Many residents have said open space money should be used to help people who cannot return home rather than on turf fields, which some consider comparably trivial.

Other residents at all, insisting that the Open Space Trust Fund was intended to preserve natural spaces. Still others worry about .

There is an additional hurdle the turf proposal must clear: In order for the township to use open space funds for any project, the municipality under law must have an ownership interest in it. In the case of the fields at  and , the would have to cede 51 percent of its ownership of the fields to the township. This agreement, once signed, is irrevocable.

Before the school board can proceed with consideration of the idea, it first must get the approval of the state Department of Education. Even if such approval is granted, of giving the municipality majority ownership of school fields.

Seriously? March 23, 2012 at 10:28 PM
@parpardon You said "The economy is bad. The council and the administration find a way to upgrade our facilities without raising taxes and you complain." Using your own words you made the point. They want to use $4,500,00 as they said. If the economy is so bad why were there never ANY other less costly proposals? Can you answer that?
Seriously? March 23, 2012 at 10:34 PM
@parpardon What do you do for a living character?
Seriously? March 25, 2012 at 12:05 AM
Keep an eye out for the un-redacted OPRAed e-mails between private citizen Mike Pietrowitz and Township Attorney John Inglesino. It''s sure to ruffle some feathers.
TJ Ritter April 02, 2012 at 12:43 AM
Please check out the updated website of www.parsippanyunite.com A new Fact Check section has been added. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact Parsippany Unite. Change happens by listening and then starting a dialogue with the people who are doing something you don't believe is right. Jane Goodall
parpardon May 16, 2012 at 01:19 AM
I wanted to publicly apologize for any rude comments I may have made. I have come to terms with my issues and realized I have been way out of line with some of my comments. I look forward to working together to form a better future for Parsippany children. Once again please accept my apologiy and I promise to not revert back to my old ways.

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