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Mayor to BOE: Is Turf Field Plan Going Forward?

If you have something to express, send Patch a Letter to the Editor at natalie.davis@patch.com.

The following is an open letter sent to the from Mayor James Barberio regarding the long-debated high school turf field proposal.

Last December, representatives of my administration and I attended a meeting of the Board of Education to publicly propose the concept of a joint partnership initiative between the Parsippany-Troy Hills municipal government (the “Township”) and the Board of Education for a turf fields project.

The concept is very straightforward—the Township needs more fields and the Board of Education needs to improve its fields. My view is, that by working together, we could structure a partnership whereby this project could become a reality for our community without raising taxes.

That would be a win-win situation. Our kids would all benefit from this terrific project and the taxpayers would not be forced to pay any more of their hard-earned dollars to fund it.

The structure of the partnership was worked out and agreed to by the lawyers for both the Township and Board of Education and works as follows:

The Township would fund the project with existing and future open space/recreation trust fund dollars, and in exchange, the Township would obtain a conservation easement and usage of the fields.

The conservation easement is a legal requirement which enables the Township to use open space/recreation trust funds. The Township would be able to use the fields 51 percent of the time and the schools would be able to use the fields 49% of the time.

A shared services agreement would need to be negotiated addressing scheduling and numerous ancillary issues. But the fundamental pieces of the partnership were agreed to as outlined above. In fact, back in December 2011, the Board of Education voted unanimously to proceed with the partnership based on structure I have just outlined.

In order to be confident that our partnership structure would be approved by the state, legal counsel for the Board of Education sent a letter to the Department of Education back on Dec. 19, 2011. That letter confirms the partnership structure I just described.

Specifically, the Board of Education’s counsel states, “The mechanism we propose to accomplish the mutual goal of the Township and the Board of Education, while complying with all applicable statutory requirements, is the granting of a conservation easement by the Board of Education to the Township whereby the turf fields would be preserved as open space and for recreation, with public outdoor recreation (i.e. Township programs, etc.) provided at least 51 percent of the time in each calendar year.”

That letter, written by the Board of Education’s attorney, accurately states the agreement I made with our Board of Education last December. Again, that agreement was unanimously approvedby the Board of Education.

The state has recently responded to the Board of Education attorney’s letter. The Township attorney and the Board of Education’s attorney interpret the State’s response to be favorable and encouraging.

All systems should be go. We should be meeting with the Board of Education, furthering our agreement to provide new fields for our children with no tax increase to our residents.

Last week, I met with representatives of the Board of Education to begin discussions on a shared services agreement. Unfortunately, that meeting did not go well. The Board of Education representatives did not have any interest in discussing a shared services agreement, but rather, surprisingly expressed reservations about proceeding forward in the manner they had previously agreed to.

I am aware that this matter will be discussed at Thursday’s Board of Education meeting.

The issue for the Board of Education is clear—does it want to partner with the Township to do the turf fields project previously agreed upon without raising taxes? Or, does the Board of Education desire to forego its partnership with the Township and ask the voters to increase their taxes for the project?

I respectfully await the Board of Education’s decision.

James R. Barberio
Mayor, Township of Parsippany-Troy Hills

Kelly Carey May 08, 2012 at 08:24 PM
I think we should have the right to vote on this. It has been rushed to the table and I don't think we have all the needed information.
Robert Simpson May 08, 2012 at 09:24 PM
Brigham Young University did a temperature study of "Synthetic Surface Heat Study". Average temperatures: Natural Turf 78 F, Concrete 94 F, Asphalt 109 F, Artificial Turf 117 F. The Artificial Turf hit a high of 157 F. Is it OK to subject our children to this high heat?
Mark May 08, 2012 at 09:25 PM
Without raising taxes? Give me a break, can the Mayor also include a set of directions to the bridge he is selling? No one can possibly believe that. If you raid the Open Space fund to pay for fields, what happens when you need money to accomplish the things that the Open Space fund was designed for in the first place? Higher taxes I'm guessing.
TJ Ritter May 08, 2012 at 09:34 PM
I suggest that anyone who posts on this read the following article from back in February. http://parsippany.patch.com/articles/couple-files-ethics-charges-against-mayor-others My wife and I filed an ethics complaint against the following people we feel have a conflict of interest and have been showing the appearance of impropriety: Mayor James Barberio, Council President Brian Stanton, Council Vice President Vincent Ferrara, BOE Committee Chair for Sports/Extra-Curricular Sharif Shamsudin, BOE Vice President Frank Neglia, Parks and Recreation member Michael Pietrowicz and Township Attorney John Inglesino. This is all public knowledge. This is an ongoing investigation by the New Jersey State Ethics Commission. From the very onset they deemed this to not be frivolous in nature as we sent them an 8 page single spaced 10 point document with many pages of redacted e-mails and other pertinent references. If any of the named people were to vote on the matter at hand we have been told to notify the State Ethics Commission IMMIDIATELY.
TJ Ritter May 08, 2012 at 09:34 PM
Now before the proponents of the “FOD” say that my wife and I are falsely accusing people, ruining their good names, etc… I will tell you this. It is my right and duty as a citizen that when I feel my government is acting unethically to report this to a non-biased government body that will fully investigate the matter. I don’t know if anyone has done anything inappropriately but that is not for me or my wife to determine. That is why we have an Ethics Commission. Finally, if you would like to e-mail me directly feel free to do so as I can be reached at tj_ritter@yahoo.com. I will gladly tell you what statutes we cited in our complaint. Please check out www.parsippanyunite.com There is a new Fact Check section that debunks some of the claims made on the FOD website.
Analli Citall May 08, 2012 at 09:37 PM
The mayor states "The issue for the Board of Education is clear—does it want to partner with the Township to do the turf fields project previously agreed upon without raising taxes? Or, does the Board of Education desire to forego its partnership with the Township and ask the voters to increase their taxes for the project?" But I would say there are more than two options available. Sometimes, as people say, you have to think outside the box. Let's just go for the easiest option that is not mentioned by the mayor at all. The BOE can just decide to do nothing. There are many other options that have been discussed ad nauseam in previous posts that I do not need to copy and paste.
William Paavola May 08, 2012 at 10:44 PM
The mayor does not understand what the people are saying. We pay enough money into the schools. I would never agree to use money that comes from taxpayers for open space items to underwrite what I consider to be mismanagement of their budget. If they fields are indeed in need to repair then they should budget the money to do that. If they are unsafe to use then they should stop using them. We spend too much effort and money on sports. We should be spending money on providing a better education.
Tom Wyka May 08, 2012 at 11:20 PM
Unless "Open Space" was never a top priority for some folks, Mark. Just something to think about.
Mark May 09, 2012 at 01:14 AM
I agree with you William. The main question is are the fields safe? I haven't seen anything from Mayor Barberio or the BOE indicating that PHS or PHHS athletes are being injured at any higher rate than other schools that have "nicer" fields. Spending on repairs or improved maintenance is one thing but how much of this is just cosmetic? There's a big difference between making improvements and a full-scale $4.5 million (probably more) overhaul. "Or, does the Board of Education desire to forego its partnership with the Township and ask the voters to increase their taxes for the project?" What project? It's not a BOE project, it's your idea Mayor. Please, someone show me where Dr. Calabria or anyone else on the Board identified a total replacement of both HS fields and tracks as a top priority? I love how he has sought in this letter to portray himself as the guy who will buy you $4.5 million fields for free. Please raise your hand if you believe that and are also over the age of 10.
paul May 09, 2012 at 02:15 AM
the town and the board of ed need to manage there people better. the boe have the employ's be more efficient and take care of the proprieties.. and right now the parks dept cant keep up with what they have now.the management must get better
Robert Simpson May 09, 2012 at 02:36 AM
At a Monday night meeting Denville Mayor Ted Hussa stated that he will eliminate the Open Space assessment in Denville.
Bob Crawford May 09, 2012 at 03:20 AM
Mayor Barberio Strong arming the the BOE and issuing those elected officials an ultimatum that they must decide on the FOD proposal by this Thursday reeks of desperation. Describing BOE President Dr. Frank Calabria (at tonight's Town Council meeting) as being untruthful or forgetful is unfortunate and doesn't 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 you have not yet shared with Parsippany residents. Mayor Barberio the more you spin the dizzier we are all getting. How about the truth and some transparency?
Chris May 09, 2012 at 03:12 PM
The Mayor is correct to put this in the lap of the BOE. This has been out there for over 6 months. Why let it linger if they never wanted the conservation easement? No matter what happens there is still the state of the fields to consider. What is going to be done? Agree or disagree with the use of the OSTF, things can't remain the same. I challenge anyone to find a HS in all of North Jersey whose grounds are in worse shape than ours. Please, let me know where it is. I have been to many other High Schools in Morris, Sussex, Passaic and Bergen Counties. I support this project because it addresses a real problem. When other schools come here to play and get back on the bus and go home, isn't that an embarrassment to us all? When visitors to our schools make statement that I have heard like , "this is your field?, It's a disgrace", you have to wonder why. The bottom line is that the Mayor presented a solution to the BOE. Some agree and some do not agree with the method, but as a leader he proposed a solution. Now it's up to the BOE to make a decision. Either way the BOE has to step up to the plate and do something and not just the usual quick fix patch job that we are all sick and tired of. Weeds that have grown into trees throughout all the old rusty broken fences, parking lots that are cracked and lifting and rusty old storage trailers all about the property. Oh yeah..and playing fields that are compacted, swampy and in sad shape. Let's not forget those.
VietNam Vet May 10, 2012 at 04:15 AM
I would still like to know, What is in it for the Mayor and Inglisino to pull something as crooked as this farce of a deal? I have never seen such underhandedness and coruption in my life as this crooked deal this town is trying to push past unsuspecting people. If this town doesn't wake up and protest or do something to stop this raping of the OSTF for their own personal gains then you all desrve just what they are running past you, a bunch of BS.
VietNam Vet May 10, 2012 at 04:22 AM
Kelly, they don't want this to go to a vote from the townspeople because they already know that they won't be able to shove it down our throats and try to pass it off as something good for the people. This only works out to be good for the mayor and the BOE because they get to keep the $ 5m. they had last year as a surplus and then raise our taxes again and tell us how bad they need that money, " That its all for the children" and hope again that you fall for their BS once again...
Robert Simpson May 11, 2012 at 01:47 AM
Mayor Barberio,Inglisino, and the Council are in the process of changing the OSTF so they can use the money for anything they want. They denied that, but it was shown to them in black and white.
VietNam Vet May 11, 2012 at 11:24 PM
Robert, you are so right, they changed the wording so it lets the Mayor use the money for whatever he wants and whenever he wants, so how long will it take before town workers are at the mayor's house for whatever he wants. I wish I could do that and have as much money as I want, whenever I feel like it.

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