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Controversy Overshadows Field of Dreams Tour

Only people who question the mayor-backed turf proposal came to examine the school fields.

About 20 residents spent their Sunday afternoon touring the football fields and more at and high schools. 

The walking tour, initially conceived by members of both sides of the debate over the contentious Fields of Dreams proposal, gave attendees an opportunity to see for themselves the condition of the schools' athletic facilities.

Notable in their absence were supporters of the project, which was a constant topic of conversation throughout the Sunday event. Most attendees expressed an interest in seeing the "other side" demonstrate the fields' reputed problems need by physically showing the problems and then describe in detail what would be done as part of the FOD plan. 

"I originally planned to attend this tour in the hopes that people would see that nothing has been done to maintain our important facilities for many, many years except patches and quick fixes," proposal supporter Chris Joyce said. "I decided not to participate in this tour because I felt that inferior and substandard conditions would be deemed acceptable by a self-proclaimed leader."

Resident Peter Bradley did not claim any sort of leadership position, but he offered his assessment of what the walkers saw.

"Today was meant to look at the conditions at the fields, the track and the fencing," he said. "I think people would agree what we see here is not so bad that we can't repair this.

"In fact, I think the Hills is in pretty good shape and we could fix this up cleanly with better fencing for a fraction of the [estimated $4.5 million] cost.  The track is in very good shape except for one or two places that might need repair. And the field, I don't think looks that bad at all. I think it could be fixed with some effort by a landscaper or someone who works with grass playing surfaces," Bradley went on. "I think we could repair this and have a good safe playing field, a good track and a good fence." 

Under the proposal, artificial turf fields would replace the existing grass football fields. Proponents also suggest adding modernized lights and refurbishing or replacing the track ovals. 

Concerns over financing, control and use of the facilities and quality of life effects for those who live closest to the fields are at the heart of the debate.

Robyn M. March 29, 2012 at 04:28 AM
Chris - we don't live in Mountain Lakes. Anyone looking for "the best" should consider buying there-they have a lot of upscale amenities.The rest of us who picked Parsippany, because it was somewhat affordable can stay here and make do. It's a crappy economy, it's not time to throw out the Ford and buy the Ferrari. Many people are not getting raises or worse are unemployed. We have real problems to deal with here and drainage is a big one-we need more open space, more trees, more grass and more landscape that sucks up water, not plastic grass. Sports are important. I played them, too and my kids do, too. But, to me, I a) don't believe in poisoning the earth with any more plastic, chemical-filled junk than I have to b) generally believe that elbow grease (i.e. fixing the fields in this case) is often the best solution. c) think it's laughable that we're talking about improving playing games when our academic scores are not stellar d) Open space is about preserving land, not fixing a school field.Rutgers has an incredible agriculture department and offers expertise free of charge-have an expert come, evaluate the soil and present some solutions that don't require resorting to Rubbermaid. I'm embarrassed to say I live in this town. The Seitz fiasco. The mayor writing a letter to support a druggie. And, now plastic fields used with OPEN SPACE money. I feel like I've landed on a strange planet where people walk on their heads!
Robyn M. March 29, 2012 at 04:34 AM
My thoughts exactly. We have hired people all along, who were there to maintain these things (maintenance people, people in charge of maintenance people). What happened? When the fence first starts to rust, you do a touch up, so it doesn't get worse. When a little section breaks you repair that piece. Immediately. Is this how people maintain their homes? Wait until it all completely falls apart, then hire someone else to fix it?
Robyn M. March 29, 2012 at 05:04 AM
I disagree. I have no vested interest in the game, not a staunch democrat nor republican. The right thing to do is go out with a clipboard and take inventory to see what needs to be done in a logical and detailed manner. To me, the school board was never really responsible for maintenance-that's like saying Obama is in charge of the White House garden. We have maintenance people who are there every day staring at these things, they have bosses and their bosses have bosses. As things break, they need to be fixed, bit by bit. Why didn't they?
Robyn M. March 29, 2012 at 05:05 AM
Julia - I've read your columns before and I appreciate your insight. I have read positive and negative things about turf. What are your thoughts in terms of health impacts and ecological impacts (especially in light of our specific landscape)? Are there any?
TJ Ritter April 02, 2012 at 12:41 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

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