$7.7M Fields Referendum Plan Moves Forward

High school athletic field proposal, if approved by BOE, will go to voters Jan. 22.

By a near-unanimous vote, the Parsippany-Troy Hills Board of Education approved putting forward a plan to improve athletic facilities at Parsippany and Parsippany Hills high schools. The body decided to place one $7.7 million question before voters for a bond referendum on Jan. 22.

The board will consider a resolution at its next meeting to make the referendum plan final.

Before the vote, bond attorney Lisa Gorab from the firm Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer presented the board with a plan to reduce the amount of money it would have to borrow to cover the cost of school field improvements. Gorab recommended refinancing current outstanding debt and using the savings to reduce the debt that would have to be incurred for the fields project.

Gorab said the fields plan would be financed with 10-year bonds, at a cost to taxpayers of $880,000 per year in new debt service for 10 years. By refinancing old debt, the lawyer said $175,000 could be saved, cutting the annual payment to abot $700,000 per year.

"That will cost taxpayers about $30 annually on assessed homes," she said.

Gorab also recommended limiting the referendum to one question rather than multiple questions.

"The more questions you have, the more confusing it is to the voters," she said.

Board attorney Kathleen Gilfillan added that confusion can lead to litigation down the road.

Gorab said the evening's vote was to authorize her to draft a referendum that would go forward after the new Board of Education is seated at the start of 2013, adding that in order to draft the document, she needed to have a final figure for the project cost and the number of questions the board wanted to include.

Board member Michael Strumolo reacted with anger.

"I feel like the tail wagging the dog," he said, insisting that hard numbers on the cost of the field project had not been provided to the board.

Member Susy Golderer agreed with Strumolo, saying the $7 million-plus figure was a surprise to her.

President Frank Calabria disagreed, saying that the numbers were discussed and agreed to during the board's Aug. 23 meeting.

At that meeting, Golderer voted yes, but indicated that in the end she would not support a plan cost that exceeded $6 million.

Member Gary Martin expressed frustration as well, arguing that Parsippany's children deserved every improvement—$11.5 million worth—previously considered by the board. He added that a retractible dome roof should be part of the project as well.

"The children deserve it all," he said, "not some half-assed, Mickey Mouse project."

"I don't see why this comes as a shock or surprise," said board member Fran Orthwein.

Members of the public agreed with Orthwein.

"No more delays," said Beth Bluj. "Decemeber marks one year since the Fields of Dreams discussions began. It's time to stop beating a dead horse. No one should be surprised. Listen to the experts. This is not a half-assed project.

"Move on with this project so we can give the kids fields they can be proud of," she urged, and her husband followed to concur.

"For the better part of a decade," said Tom Bluj, "we've been waiting. The children have been waiting. The town has been waiting."

"Why do you have to waste everyone's time?" resident Alison Cogan asked the dissenters. "You made a resolution. We counted the numbers."

When the board finally voted, all members voted yes, save for Martin, who cast an abstention.

Before his yes vote, Strumolo made a statement pointing to a recent fields referendum considered in Montville.

"That was for $1 million, and it failed," he said. "If this one fails, [when it comes to the fields], we're back to square one."

Bob Crawford November 30, 2012 at 06:27 PM
Jonathan I would agree with you that it's critical for the community to get on the same page with regard to BOE proposal. The good news is that the FOD proposal belongs to the BOE and that the voters will be given the opportunity to decide the issue. That's a very positive alternative to the original approach which had Mayor Barberio and the Town Council controlling the decision with the funding being taken from future tax dollars set aside for Open Space purposes. Now it's up to the BOE to educate the public as to why on January 22, 2013 we should support the expenditure of $7.7 million dollars. In the past when the BOE had to put its budget before the voters it mailed information out and held public sessions where questions could be asked and residents' concerns could be addressed. There is plenty of time before the vote on January 22, 2013 for the BOE to do that and to communicate with the public in an effective, open and honest way. I would suggest that they have at least 7.7 million reasons to do so.
clyde donovan November 30, 2012 at 08:22 PM
You can build a $70 million stadium for the Parsippany Red Hawks (a.k.a., Fish) and they'll never be much better than this season's 2 and 9 record. They don't need a new stadium; they need to switch to playing shuffleboard.
Mike November 30, 2012 at 09:28 PM
Waste of my tax dollars. What's the plan ten years down the line when they have to re-turf the fields? Gonna bend me over for some more money. The kids are getting concussions on grass....what's gonna happen on turf????
Another point of view November 30, 2012 at 09:42 PM
I am a fan of the Patch for the timely, local information and the forum it provides for civil people to have a constructive dialog. And rarely do I ever post....but it is time that someone put this "Clyde" in his place. How dare you put down kids who play football at the High. My nephew is one of those players who plays for the love of the sport. You and your never-ending ridiculous, negative and hurtful posts should be banned from the Patch. You can have your opinions but attacks on kids who try hard and have fun, have no place in this forum or eslewhere. Go back to the rock you crawl out from every time you use the Patch to spew your hatred. Our school fields are an embarassment and have been unsafe for long enough. It is time for the voters in our town to move this project forward as soon as possible.
Analli Citall November 30, 2012 at 11:17 PM
What I don't understand is why don't the HS just use the town fields that are already built. We have 3 lit town fields that would cost the HS nothing to play on. I do understand that it cost money for transportation but how much is it each game? Do some simple math. $7,700,000 for two fields, say each HS used transportation to get to the fields 100 times a year for the next 30 years you could spend about $1300 per event just on the busing alone for the same money. This is all just a back door approach to raising my taxes. Where are all those screaming for fiscal responsibility saying that this is a waste of tax payer dollars. If this project was so important then the money would already be available in the current budget. By everyone screaming that there is no money in the regular budget for this than all I hear is this field is not AS IMPORTANT as other things in the budget.
clyde donovan December 01, 2012 at 12:28 AM
http://www.maxpreps.com/high-schools/parsippany-redhawks-(parsippany,nj)/football/home.htm Parsippany HS football is ranked 314th in New Jersey and 11,933rd in the nation. You can make a better case for getting rid of the failed Parsippany football program than you can for building a new stadium.
Jonathan Hemenway December 01, 2012 at 12:55 AM
Clyde, the kids on the High side of town deserve to have a football team. Also, there would be more then just football that would be using the field. If you choose to vote against these fields due to the football team that is your choice and your right. Many towns have benifited from a new change to their fields. To Mike the price to returf a field would be less then the cost to properly maintain the grass fields. Also, it is no more or less safer in terms of concussions for players to be on grass or turf. To Bob Crawford I do like the new plan due to the fact it is a school plan it should be done by the BOE. The Mayors plan at the time I feel was a good attempt to rectify a situation. But once again if the schools want and need the fields they should be presented and pushed united by the board.
Bob Crawford December 01, 2012 at 02:15 AM
Clyde As someone who attended most of the PHS home football games over the past three years and a number of away games, many of us in the stands came to learn that while winning is important, continuing to work hard and giving it a best effort are lessons that will serve PHS's student athletes and the communities they choose to live in for many, many years to come. By no stretch of the imagination does a program "fail" when those values are demonstrated game in and game out. As for rankings, I challenge you to find any team in the nation that made their fans prouder. Go Hawks!
Maurice Saunders December 01, 2012 at 07:36 PM
Analli, Since you can do the math, what's the math for other the high school sport teams that use the tracks and the fields?
Analli Citall December 01, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Sure, where are they going? How often? I'll get right back to you on that. Realistically, how much are they (each and every HS student) going to use the fields. Probably about as much as every Parsippany resident uses all of the Parsippany Parks.
gina s. December 02, 2012 at 03:29 AM
The fields are most definitely needed. It's not just football. Our town has a huge soccer program that had to fight every day just to get fields to play on. One of the reasons for living in a community like this, is so our children have access to a quality education and quality recreational space. Let's give them what they deserve. Oh and by the way, can someone please tell Clyde to take a walk! His comments are ridiculous and negative and I speak for many when I say please stop. If it's so terrible here, move someplace else.
Scott Dean December 02, 2012 at 04:13 AM
Maybe the Other sports entities in town can lend some loan power to the BOE there is plenty of money and fields are used by all
steve revette December 02, 2012 at 05:07 AM
Hey what about the Brooklawn softball field? If we can spend 7 million on football fields why can't we spend money to fix " The swamp". They hgave just as much right to get their field as the football teams do.
parhome December 02, 2012 at 01:31 PM
Will there be 8 lanes on the track so we can host county meets? I'm confused.
Natalie Davis (Editor) December 02, 2012 at 03:45 PM
There will be six lanes proposed. IIRC, the notion that eight lanes were necessary was disproven.
Charlie December 02, 2012 at 08:40 PM
Where is the BOE coming up with this 7 million plus number. It's absolutely outrageous. I have constructed many of these fields with these ameneties and the cost has not come near these figures.
Frank Drebin December 02, 2012 at 10:36 PM
7.5 million + cost over runs. How much to maintain the fields? How about baseball, and and fields for other sports? How long does a turf field last? More than one Pro football player is suing the teams owners and the turf field manufactures due to injuries, If you want to spend so much money why not up the schools? BTW why not "turf" "The Mayor's" lawn he was the one that started the whole idea?
Sick of the trolls December 04, 2012 at 12:42 AM
Hey, "Clyde." How ya doing? Hope you had a good weekend. Listen, maybe it's time for you to find another town to live in. I hear Bloomfield has a good football team this year, maybe you should move there, if the quality of the high school football team is your measure of whether or not a school is deserving of decent athletic facilities.
Sick of the trolls December 04, 2012 at 12:43 AM
Yo, "Clyde", I can make a better case for calling you a moron than you can for getting rid of PHS's football program. Maybe we should just do that instead.
Sick of the trolls December 04, 2012 at 12:48 AM
Hey, "Frank", have you not been paying attention? Were you too busy tending to OJ in the hospital again? That was so funny, when he jumped out the boat and left a perfect cutout of himself in the wall! So, anyway, listen, most of this has already been discussed. Why don't you keep up? I know it's hard for you, being dead and all, but it would really help the rest of us if you did, OK? Thanks buddy. One more thing, what's with all the extra quotes around the Mayor again? Are you maybe referring to Nancy Marchand, is that why you put it in quotes, because she was the actress that played "The Mayor" in your movie? Because she's dead, I doubt she even has a lawn anymore.
Todd M. Finchler December 04, 2012 at 01:23 AM
I have no idea who Sick of the Trolls is, but I am sitting here cracking up at all of his comments on this thread! Well done, my friend..
Peter B December 04, 2012 at 01:38 AM
Let's remember Parsippany already has 3 lighted artificial turf fields that we currently pay to operate and maintain. We will also be paying for the replacement of those fields in a few years. I understand the county is installing 4 more artificial turf fields in our town too. Simple question to the taxpayers is "Do we need to spend $7.7M for 2 additional turf fields, lights, locker rooms, etc?" I say no. We can and should provide adequate athletic fields for our high schools. We can do so at small fraction of $7.7M. - this not all about the kids and what they "deserve", it's also about about fiscal responsibility and wise use of our tax dollars.
Bob Crawford December 04, 2012 at 01:01 PM
Natalie Could you please look into the report that the County is installing 4 more artificial fields in Parsippany. If that is true and to Mr. Bradley's point, perhaps there are alternative solutions to dealing with the issue of providing our students with the venues they need to play on. Operating under the assumption that the BOE will soon release detailed information about it's $7.7 million dollar proposal, we would then better understand what the overall town and school strategy is to provide Parsippany residents, of all ages. with the recreational facilities they deserve. Hopefully, the Board of Education, the Mayor's office and the County are talking to each other so that they are able to coordinate their efforts to spend our tax dollars in an efficient and non-redundant way
David Comora December 04, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Here is a link to the Morris County park website with a map showing where the 4 new artificial turf fields are currently being built. Take a ride up there, its a pretty impressive undertaking.... http://www.morrisparks.net/maps/iviewer/central.asp . This is also where Parsippany High and Parsippany Hills Cross Country Teams are bussed to have their meets.
Scott Dean December 04, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Speaking of Field improvements, I see that PTE again is improving its already beautiful complex. Great Job
VietNam Vet December 22, 2012 at 05:36 AM
Analli, this board does have the money to pay for this but they don't want to part with our tax dollars. They have over 5 million dollars in surplus from last year and they all of a sudden when asked about it they say they don't have it, so I've been asking what happened to it? Who took it? and what was it spent on?
VietNam Vet December 22, 2012 at 05:45 AM
Peter, I couldn't have said it better. This board does not use our tax dollars wisely and we the taxpayers are being screw everyday by them, starting with the over paid supt.
Analli Citall December 26, 2012 at 09:13 PM
Did you see the proposal for both tracks? 8 lanes for each. I do not understand why they need to go to such extravagant lengths for these high school kids. The BS that is spewed in the proposal is just sickening. School spirit will go down if this doesn't pass. Really? Prove that to me. That is just plain rhetoric. Not facts. Plus the lies that the HS soccer teams are going to use the fields during the Spring. Not one HS soccer practice takes place in NJ outside of the summer and fall. Someone is just lying to everyone in this proposal. I would love to see how many gym classes actually take place up on these fields on a regular basis. What more are these classes going to do now that they don't currently do?
Analli Citall December 26, 2012 at 09:16 PM
If someone doesn't make a little noise this referendum will just slide on by and pass with 2 votes. All of our taxes will increase and none of the pros of this proposal will actually happen. School spirit will not increase. More HS kids will not use the fields. And the ongoing costs to maintain these fields will drive the over all costs higher than originally estimated.
Analli Citall December 26, 2012 at 09:27 PM
Curious, is there a minimum number or percentage of the entire electorate that needs to come out to vote? Is the referendum vote only binding if a specified turnout threshold is reached.


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