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Fields Referendum Fails by Wide Margin

Residents vote against spending nearly $8 million for high school athletic improvements.

The fields of dreams will have to wait.

Parsippany voters came out in the biting cold Tuesday to have their say about the Board of Education's $7.7 million athletic fields referendum. And by a wide margin, they said they were not willing to support the proposal to bring artificial turf fields, lights, refurbished lights and more at Parsippany and Parsippany Hills high schools.

In the end, the referendum did not carry a single polling place, and the unofficial tally performed by Municipal Clerk Yancy Wazirmas showed that no votes outpaced yesses 2,373-1,745.

Board of Education President Susy Golderer, who questioned the cost of the proposal during the referendum planning stages, said the result surprised her.

Still, she said, "The people have spoken. Now we must come together to find another way to give the children and the town fields to bring us pride."

The unofficial breakdown is as follows:

   POLLING PLACE            YES        NO     Brooklawn Middle School 235 295 Central Middle School 119 218 Eastlake School 153 207 Intervale School 155 227 Littleton School 313 409 Powder Mill Firehouse 146 180 Rockaway Meadow School 385 578 Troy Hills School 235 250 ABSENTEE    4    9 TOTALS 1,745 2,373
I voted no January 23, 2013 at 10:32 PM
Lets move on enough chatter on this subject.
g January 23, 2013 at 10:47 PM
beth Blug: you said, Test scores don't mean a thing to but the honor roll does since your kids were on them, correct? Academic fraud is rife at many of the nation's most prestigious and costliest universities. At Brown University, two-thirds of all letter grades given are A's. At Harvard, 50 percent of all grades were either A or A- (up from 22 percent in 1966); 91 percent of seniors graduated with honors. The Boston Globe called Harvard's grading practices "the laughing stock of the Ivy League." Eighty percent of the grades given at the University of Illinois are A's and B's. Fifty percent of students at Columbia University are on the Dean's list. The Obama administration announced that 10 states, including New Jersey, were granted waivers from having to adhere to federal No Child Left Behind standardized testing benchmarks. The waiver comes at a fortunate time for Parsippany. Eleven of the district's 14 schools did not meet federal Adequate Yearly Progress standards as of the end of the last school year. How do you get higher standing in the top schools in New Jersey? You water down the federal No Child Left Behind standardized testing benchmarks. Schools certainly do have an immoral code to live by.
Maxine S January 24, 2013 at 12:06 AM
What I find most sad is how poorly this referendum vote was announced in the town. No voter in my household received the usual polling notice that comes prior to an election. One was delivered to us only today. The only place I knew that listed voter locations was Tabor Pizza. Perhaps if the town wanted a 'true' vote it should have done a better job of making the information for a proper vote available. Whether or not the final outcome would have been different, I do not know. However, I am very angry that the town of Parsippany did such a poor job of ensuring ALL voters were notified properly. I can't help but wonder if it was done on purpose to ensure that YES votes prevailed - that clearly backfired. This has only added to my frustration with both the Township's and Board of Ed's administrations. I love living here and love my neighborhood and schools. I wish we could get past the crookedness and focus on what is best for the children - any and all improvements to their education - from the arts, music and media, sports, bringing back foreign languages at the elementary level and so much more.
Beth Bluj January 24, 2013 at 12:09 AM
g - let's agree to disagree and move on. I am spent and don' feel like dragging this out any longer. Your priorities are one and mine are another and we will never be on the same page and that's ok.
utoh January 24, 2013 at 01:38 AM
Turf needs to be replaced every approx. 15 yrs on lawns, on a football feild could be far less that would mean before it's paid for it needs to be replaced.
NHM January 24, 2013 at 02:15 AM
Mark, there are seniors in this town who would like to hire RELIABLE, HARDWORKING kids to do things like yard work, leaf collection and snow removal. Where are the kids who want to work?
NJ EMT January 24, 2013 at 03:11 AM
Well! For someone who is pointing the finger, you sure did give us an example of what a crybaby is. Poor little Johnny can't play ball on a field because its not as pretty as his mommy and daddy THINK it should be? At least they have a field! And 30$ to some people is alot of money, especially on a fixed income. I know people here in Lk Hiawatha whose taxes are OVER 8K/year. And now with a reduction in take home pay, the biggest issue the town has is a flippin field? The taxes in this town are outrageous, where is our money going? The services have been reduced to point we have to buy our own leaf bags! With the amount of corporations in this huge town, you'd think we'd get at LEAST bags or even leaf pickup! Instead, the town wants to use taxpayers money to improve a play space. There are 31 parks all over this town, do NOT tell me the poor little kiddies dont' have anywhere to play. Most of the kids are occupied by their parents indulgences of ipads, computers and video games. Volunteers park is in poor repair, for example! How about fixing that up? I've never attended Parsippany school system, instead of worrying that your kids get a nice field, how about insisting on a good education?
NJN January 24, 2013 at 04:33 AM
There is a batter way to pay for these fields. Lets the business pay. Do you know that the business in the town do not pay any education taxes? This includes all the apartments owners. There are so many kinds lives in these apartments and uses township school system. I think it's fair if they pay their share as well.
David Comora January 24, 2013 at 05:11 AM
Well said, Nancy!
Mike Begley January 24, 2013 at 05:30 AM
This referendum was soundly defeated , but not for any single reason. There are so many factors that led to this this defeat, and most of them are listed above. In short, the changes were deemed non-essential during a challenging economic climate, there was discomfort and distrust with the way that this entire process was handled, going back to the original "Field Of Dreams" concept, (by the way, just who are the "Turf Our Fields Committee", anyway?) and there is an overall lack of faith in the Board Of Education's handling of such a big-ticket item. However, the reaction of the Board Of Education to the defeat - shock and surprise - is very disconcerting, as it shows a glaring disconnect with the community that it serves. Mr. Mancuso and Ms. Orthwein, I'd like to suggest that you and your fellow board members re-acquaint yourselves with the people that elected you, as it seems that you have no idea what they are thinking. You can do this by talking less and listening more. Your reaction does not inspire confidence. continued...
Mike Begley January 24, 2013 at 05:32 AM
To the proponents of the fields, this is not "a sad day for the children" as has been said. Nothing has been lost. One method for achieving what you would like to see has been rejected. That's not the end of the world. A majority of people in this town agree that something must be done for our fields, but do not see this plan as the solution. That in itself is a big win, as until recently the sorry state of our high school fields was not on anybody's radar. Now its the talk of the town. As for the hard core opponents, especially Mr. Crawford, this result is not a mandate being loudly heard. It is many voices, with varying concerns, expressing numerous opinions. This is not a validation of your efforts. You are among the majority, but do not represent us, nor do you speak for us. In fact, there is a fact that has been mentioned in this forum, I don't believe that it has been given the attention that it deserves. The sad state of our fields can be attributed to yourself, and those who served with you. The people entrusted you with the responsibility to oversee and maintain the investment that we have made in our facilities, and you let us down. You failed in your elected responsibilities, and as a result we are in this position today. If I were you, or any current or prior board member who has served over the last five to ten years, I would not be crowing too loudly today. continued...
Mike Begley January 24, 2013 at 05:37 AM
It would be nice if the hard core supporters on both sides would just be silent for a while and realize that most often the answers - as well as the majority - lie in the middle. This town and this board need to look around at what other towns have (successfully) done regarding the modernization of athletic fields, and adopt what works. The boards' illusion that they have all of the answers must be recognized for the fallacy that it is. In short, if we are to take anything away from this experience, it is that we, as taxpayers, must pay much more attention to what is happening with our money, and we must demand that our elected officials treat those dollars with the respect that they deserve.
VietNam Vet January 24, 2013 at 07:53 AM
NJ. you are so right, as a long time resident here I have watched my taxes go up every year and the school is the biggest increase here, or should I say, "Drain" on peoples finances. They are spending money that many of us don't have to give anymore. The parents just look at it as their kids are going to get a nice field, but they don't stop to think of the hell many of the seniors have to go through to provide those extra taxes for it. Mnay don't even have children and they have to pay for someone elses children, and then they are told, if you can't afford to live here, then go someplace else to live where you can afford it. They don't stop to think, that the taxes are higher in this state than in many other around.
VietNam Vet January 24, 2013 at 08:01 AM
So you think we should've trusted the last board, that lied to us and pushed through a money grubbers contract almost a year ahead of time just to stick it to the Governor and the taxpayers again and again. I wouldn't trust then from the building to the parking lot. Maybe we have a chance with the new board, give them a chance to right so of the past wrong from the last board.
Charles Jones January 24, 2013 at 11:50 AM
What on earth in materials cost $8 million to redo 2 fields??? Before that it was some 13 million.
Julia Peterson January 24, 2013 at 12:53 PM
Mike Begley: Thank you for your well-reasoned comments on this. Dave Comora: Seems like Jannerone Field with improvements would be a possibility.
Robert Simpson January 24, 2013 at 01:40 PM
NJ Resident: I agree with your comment except maybe not so much with the $30 tax statement.
Robert Simpson January 24, 2013 at 01:57 PM
I am sure the fields were adequate when they were built. Failure to maintain them caused them to deteriorate. I don't think the project was voted down because of the $30 tax. I am sure some people voted no because; this is not the time to acquire debt, did not want the children to play on toxic turf, inadequate maintenance would continue.
Morgan1 January 24, 2013 at 02:05 PM
As a voting resident of this town this is my number one issue. I have often wondered how much the apartment owners / renters pay in school taxes. Does anyone know if NJN is 100% accurate as to whether the apartments pay any school taxes?
Robert Simpson January 24, 2013 at 02:40 PM
The renters do not pay taxes directly. The owners pay taxes. On the last evalulation, the homeowner taxes were increased and the apartment owner taxes were decreased. Some apartments have more people than is allowed by Parsippany Code.
Bob Crawford January 24, 2013 at 03:14 PM
Mr. Begley Thank you for your comments and most of them are on target. However, you appear to have confused my volunteer role as one of nine Board members (each with a single vote) with the paid role of the Superintendent whose responsibility it is to manage the school district. And has been stated numerous times before, the nine BOE members, over the past number of years, had to make some difficult choices when it came to how money should be spent in the District. What you may not know is that a number of the decisions the BOE made regarding capital improvement projects resulted in the State picking up 40% of the projects' costs. With the limited dollars that were available walking, away from that type of funding would have been irresponsible With regard to my "opposition" to the Referendum please be good enough to review my comments which consistently called on the BOE to provide additional/sufficent information about the costs and potential impact of the Referendum that was being put before the voters. If you attended the BOE meetings or read the answers provided on the District web site you might agree that the information provided was less than sufficient. And by the way I have yet to receive the mailer sent out by the District. One final point- no one is "crowing" but many of us would like to find a way to solve the issues that have surfaced. Not sure how active you have been in the past but now how about rolling up your sleeves and joining that effort
Morgan1 January 24, 2013 at 03:40 PM
I wish we had some idea as to how much the apartment owners pay per child resident versus regular homeowners.
Robert Simpson January 24, 2013 at 08:51 PM
Jason:If you voted no, you want the kids to get fat!!! Could you say something more stupid?
Robert Simpson January 24, 2013 at 08:56 PM
When our high priced supertendant submits his budget, how much money is alloted to maintain the field?
NJ EMT January 25, 2013 at 12:18 AM
New Jersey relies quite heavily on local property taxes to support education. In most states, the cost of public education is evenly divided between state revenues and local property taxes. But in New Jersey, the state government's contribution to education has hovered around 40% for more than a generation, with local property taxes paying most of the education bill statewide. Apartment complexes pay property tax, which is calculated in the monthly rent. The property tax for Park Lake is public and was found that in the 2011-2012 year.. Tax year 2011-2012 Property Tax $345,684.23
Mike Begley January 25, 2013 at 02:27 AM
Mr. Crawford, My wife and I have been quite involved in the schools, with my wife leading two PTA's, and working together on the board of our PGT program. Unfortunately my involvement was curtailed a few years back by a double lung transplant. However, with the way things are going right now, it may be time to start going to meetings. Regarding my opinions on your BOE service, you were more than one of nine - you were the chair of the committee tasked to oversee buildings and grounds. I understand the limited budget, the win/win scenario of the capital improvements that are state-subsidised, as well as Marlene's persuasiveness. But Bob, you were in the position to flag areas of need, and with your constant attendance at PHS games, those needs were in your face on a regular basis. You're not a shy man Bob. And when you see things wrong you are quite adept at making yourself heard. Yet I don't recall ever hearing anything from you about the shape of our fields, and as chair of buildings and grounds that was right up your alley, budgetary constraints or not. Now I know nothing about the internal politics of a nine-person board, or of those involved in working side by side with other board members, Dr. Seitz, and Marlene on the buildi gs and grounds committee. But I do know that if your idea of chairing was to march in lock-step with district management, then you were not up to the position at all. Continued...
Mike Begley January 25, 2013 at 02:50 AM
It seems to me that your responsibilities on that committee would certainly include the identification of facilities in poor shape and requiring improvement, and communicating that information to district management, as well as to your fellow board members. Perhaps these items get pushed down the list due to budgetary contraints, but they must be documented, if only to avoid allegations such as mine, and of many others in town, that the BOE was asleep at the wheel during this time, and let the fields degenerate to their present condition. You've said that Marlene guided you, and that Dr. Seitz was responsible for managing the district. But your commitee plays a key role in that equation Bob, as the check and balance over the district's spending power. You were not in that position to follow - as chair you were there to lead. If nothing else, to tell everyone else involved that you had a laundry list of issues that, while not being immediately addressed, were on the radar screen. I don't recall anything like that being said about the fields, and that's a fail for you and the other board members at the time. But since you were the chair, and you're obviously capable of making yourself heard, it reflects even more on you.
Bob Crawford January 25, 2013 at 03:04 AM
Mike How about meeting me for a cup of coffee sometime this weekend? I suspect we might have more in common than we think Name the time and the place and I'll be there. I look forward to talking to you and sharing some ideas Thanks Bob
joe raich January 25, 2013 at 11:26 AM
Mike Begley: Previous Boards refused to listen to Bob Crawford when he made B&G reports,and being a 1 vote of 9 got lonely. Bob deserves " the Profile in Courage " award during these troubled times...
Peter February 10, 2013 at 04:10 PM
Who payed for the fields you used as a child.

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