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Fields Plan Failure Could Be Felt in Classrooms

Superintendent warns if referendum is voted down, teachers could be let go, technology scaled back.

The projected at and high schools elicited many comments for and against it at .

But Superintendent of Schools LeRoy Seitz said that if voters do not approve the plan in a January referendum, students and homeowners could pay the price.

The ambitious plan would create separate multipurpose athletic complexes for each high school consisting of artificial turf fields, new eight-lane track ovals, modernized lighting, renovated concession stands and new restroom facilities, sound systems, Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant grandstands and more.

The plan appears to be more comprehensive than Mayor James Barberio's previously debated turf plan, the so-called Fields of Dreams. That rejected plan, which called for the BOE to cede control of the high school football fields, included synthetic turf fields, track improvements, lighting and bleachers. The estimated cost of the mayor's plan was $4.5 million that would have been paid for with Open Space Trust Fund monies over 15 years. That figure did not include costs for replacement of the turf carpets, which have an . 

At the meeting, resident Hank Heller characterized the planned complexes pushed by the district as "Taj Mahals." 

Seitz said the description could not be farther from the truth.

"We are talking about basic things here," he said at the Wednesday meeting, noting that the proposed locker rooms wouldn't even include lockers. "It will be a small room with a cement floor, benches and hook on the walls. ... We did not do anything extravagant."

Similarly, he said bathrooms will be small and will have no more than two or three stalls available for each gender.

The school district's plan is to put the plan before voters via a special January referendum that would cost $30,000.

According to the superintendent, as expensive as the plan may appear to some, the costs could be higher if the work is broken down and done in spurts. 

"If [the referendum] goes down, repairs of, say, bleachers will have to come out of the operating budget," Seitz warned. "That means layoffs of teachers, a scaling back of technology. We [work under a] 2 percent hard cap, so [if voters reject the plan], it will impact instruction.

"It's that simple."

He added that the plan is comprised of repairs and renovations that are necessary whether the complexes are approved by voters or not.

"If they aren't funded through the referendum, most of these things still need to be done soon," Seitz said. "That will have an impact on future school budgets."

He pointed to the fact that under law, the 2 percent cap on tax increases does not permit waivers for capital projects.

Additionally, he said, if multiple referendums are needed to get approval for individual projects, that will mean more paid out in election costs. Construction costs would rise as well, he said, due to multiple, smaller projects, possible increases in interest rates and the interconnected nature of some of the individuals jobs involved.

An example of this interconnection, he noted, would be the installation of artificial turf for the football fields. That project determines what happens with the work involving bleachers and drainage systems.

As it stands, the plan is projected to cost approximately $11.5 million, said the superintendent. The tax burden to homeowners would be spread out over 10 years, costing the average taxpayer $54 dollars per year, or a dollar a week.

If voters say no to the district plan, he warned they potentially and unwittingly could be setting themselves up to pay even more over the long run.

VietNam Vet August 04, 2012 at 08:27 AM
The why do't they get some of the janitors off their duffs and start doing something here besides sitting around and collecting a nice fat check, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to get out and do a little painting and cutting some grass and fixing a few things, afterall, thats what they are paid for anyway.
David Comora August 04, 2012 at 11:52 AM
Perhaps the BOE or Patch can publish a line item budget so we can understand how the cost estimate more than doubled from 4.5 to 11 million dollars. How about $2 million to turf the fields, fix the fences and fix the track at the High? I understand the desire to "go for the gold" with this referendum, but I think an $11 million dollar budget after the proposed $4.5 million is absurd, and will have little chance at the polls.
Maurice Saunders August 04, 2012 at 11:58 AM
Selena, as a Parsippany Homeowner I think I already do pay for it. :-)
Bob Crawford August 04, 2012 at 08:56 PM
Here is Mayor Barberio's oppportunity to demonstrate his leadership skills and financial prowesss to the residents of Parsippany. When we last heard from the Mayor, he told us that as a result of the in depth analysis that he and his administrative team had conducted that the FOD proposal (which included two turfed fields, new fences, two eight lane tracks and modern lighting at both fields) would cost no more than $4.5 million. In fact the Mayor and his spokesperson, Mr. Inglesino, repeatedly said that the estimate of $4.5 million was on the high side and would probably be less. Mr. Mayor please share your specific estimates with the BOE and Parsippany residents immediately and let us understand how you arrived at the $4.5 million. You ran for office three years ago touting your experience as a financial expert and using that expertise you seemed to have put together a proposal that is millions of dollars less than what the BOE is proposing. Come on Mayor Barberio lead the way and share your numbers so that we can all benefit from better understanding the financial promises you made when you were the FOD's biggest cheer leader. Remaining silent will prove to be very costly so let;s hear from you
Analli Citall August 05, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Just to be clear Bob Crawford the Mayor publicly states the he would be AGAINST any plan that included raising taxes. Why has he not come out publicly against this new BOE plan? He should show leadership and follow through with his past statements.
Maurice Saunders August 05, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Bob and Analli, Why are you guys blasting the Mayor. You guys blasted the Mayor during FOD. Now since the BOE has decided against the FOD and took matters in their own hands, you're criticizing the Mayor for not stepping in. GIVE IT A BREAK!!!! You should question the BOE on why there is a difference in FOD price tag versus what they are proposal. Let's keep politics out of this and keep focus on the the proposal the BOE has before us.
Bob Crawford August 05, 2012 at 03:52 PM
Maurice This is not about politics but it is about being fiscally responsible and transparent. A couple of months ago the Mayor asked for the community's support for his plan to spend $4.5 million of our tax dollars and I am simply asking for him to break out those costs and share them with the BOE and the community. My assumption is that he, as a financial professional, arrived at the $4.5 million estimate after conducting the required due diligence and that he is able and willing to provide the detailed information that produced his estimate. Given the millions of dollars difference between his proposal and the BOE's proposal, perhaps the BOE (and by extension Parsippany tax payers) could benefit from receiving the Mayor's numbers to better understand the estimate that they plan to vote on later this month. This is an opportunity for the Mayor to take the initiative and demonstrate leadership on an issue that will impact all Parsippany residents. Rather than "blasting the Mayor" I am inviting him to step up. And by the way tomorrow I will submit an OPRA request to the BOE asking for the information behind the numbers that were presented at the last BOE meeting.
Maurice Saunders August 05, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Bob, Thanks for the clarification. However, I would put that demand on the BOE. At Wednesday's BOE meeting, those same concerns were raised about the difference in the cost of both plans. I would have thought that BOE would have reached out to the Mayor or FOD committee to review their plan, cost and areas of concern that were raised by the community at large.
Analli Citall August 05, 2012 at 04:12 PM
The Mayor is a public elected official that openly stated he was AGAINST any plan that would require Parsippany tax payers to pay MORE taxes. How is it playing politics to see if he is a man of his word and will continue that same stance? I am a Parsippany tax payer and am interested if our elected officials stand by their word or change their position. If he does change his position I'd be interested in hearing what new information he has that allows him to now support raising taxes for every Parsippany resident.
Bob Crawford August 05, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Maurice Not sure how warm and fuzzy relations are between the BOE and the Mayor these days and so the need for some proactive questioning from some of us who prefer to trust and verify rather than just trust. If that questioning proves to be redundant than no harm. If that questioning prods our elected officials to have a productive conversation that's good. If that questioning surfaces new and different ideas from Parsippany residents that are then embraced by our elected officials all the better.
Maurice Saunders August 05, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Bob, I definitely agree with that!
Scott Dean August 05, 2012 at 05:30 PM
Was it Questions or Curiosity that Killed The Cat ??
g August 05, 2012 at 06:13 PM
It always seems that when goveernment is asked to suport the estimates to supoort the no more than $4.5 million dollars they can do that quite easily. However, when the project is 75 to 80% completed it suddenly runs out of funds and more is needed to complete the project. The town now has no alternative than to get more funds. to compelte the project. But what happens to the mayor or his conies when this happens. Nothing. So it becomes a win, win situation for the mayor. Government officials always low ball the estimates to get the thing started. Once started the town cannot back out. Rule of thumb for government officials: Always low ball the estimate. The town will be required to pay and nothing happens to the people who gave the first estimate, that it won't go over $4.5 million
Maurice Saunders August 05, 2012 at 06:32 PM
g, What are you talking about? and I mean that in the most respectful way ;-) Are you saying that the estimate that the Mayor and FOD committee provided originally was under estimated? Here you go again...where assumptions are being made that government funded project are frequently under estimated where the town is on the hook for additional funds to complete the project.
patchitup1 August 06, 2012 at 12:34 AM
I can not believe how this is now the mayors doin! He told all of us that his plan was to NOT raise tax dollars to do the FOD. The agreement was to SHARE services with the BOE. They Changed their mind and want to to this ALONE. His plan was to use open space funds. Theirs is to raise our taxes. Please don't confuse the township with the BOE they Do what they want and the mayor has no say in there budget. I know people do not want the fields done and will point their fingers at who ever they want but it's time to point it at the BOE not the town council & Mayor! They are out of it now, it's ALL on The BOE and our vote. As for the price change Bob I think the plan they have put forward includes A Lot more bells & whistles like bathrooms, locker rooms and a 8 lane track, food stand ect.
Bob Crawford August 06, 2012 at 01:15 AM
patchitup1 I think you are missing the point. No one is saying that "this is now the Mayors doin" What we are asking is for the Mayor to share his FOD cost calculations which totaled $4.5 million and which provide much of what the BOE believes it needs to spend $11.5 million to fund. Apparently, the Mayor, as a result of some good and hard work on his part, has found a much less expensive way to solve a quality of sports facilities problem that many folks believe exists. As for the bathrooms the Superintendent described them as "being small with no more than two or three stalls available for each gender". As for the locker rooms the Superintendent described them as "a small room with a cement floor and with no lockers but hooks on the wall" As for the 8 lane track that improvement was included in the Mayor's original FOD's cost estimate of $4.5 million so it should be a wash. Assuming the snack stand is not being built to win Zagat's highest rating, it looks as though the Mayor came up with a much more cost effective solution that could save Parsippany tax payers $7 million. How about we put our differences aside and jointly call upon the Mayor to ride to Parsippany's rescue and share his numbers with the BOE. His doing so could provide a real Bonanza to Parsippany. It's time to stop Hossing around and by Joe the Mayor could provide us with a real BENefit that could do a ADam bit of good for all of us.
patchitup1 August 06, 2012 at 02:17 AM
I agree with you Bob, I do think the BOE needs to talk to him about the big dollar difference. Thanks for sharing.
Todd M. Finchler August 06, 2012 at 02:34 AM
While the adults in town debate what should be done with fields, there is a group of boys who are living out their "field of dreams" right now. This "Field of Dreams" article has generated about 50 comments in two days - yet the articles concerning the Par-Troy East NJ State Championship and Mid-Atlantic Regional games have garnered almost no commentary and very little support. Right before our eyes, we have a group of 11 and 12 year-olds - who played their games on fields leased by the town to PTE and maintained exclusively by volunteer parents - who are very close to realizing the dreams of all Little Leaguers - to play in the LL World Series in Williamsport. While I am not trying to stifle debate - and robust discussion is a vital part of every democracy - I hope the entire town can get behind the Par-Troy East 11/12 team in its quest to reach Williamsport! The PTE team has beaten the state champions from NY and PA in the regionals in Brisol, CT. They play DC on Monday and Maryland on Wednesday. The semi-finals (Friday) and finals (Sunday) will be broadcast live on ESPN! I hope that - for a few days anyway - the adults in this town can show these boys that everyone supports them! Offer a supporting comment under one of the PTE articles. I'll bet their parents and coaches will let their sons know about the enthusiasm throughout their hometown!
patchitup1 August 06, 2012 at 02:52 AM
I am 100% with you on this and have posted for the boys! I hope that the kids Do get what they deserve, good safe fields to play on. I was in favor of the FOD and still think that the first plan would have worked but you are right. Par Troy LL has my full support! Win it all boys.....
Analli Citall August 06, 2012 at 12:25 PM
The members of the Town Council and Mayor are all Parsippany residents and tax payers. This plan from the BOE affects them as much as it affects any other resident. Are you suggesting that because they are not the final decision maker they have no say in the matter? At that point then neither does any other resident that is not on the BOE. But that is not true, this is going to be a referendum put before the voters and they will have a chance to go to the booths and vote for this referendum. As public elected officials there is nothing wrong for the residents to hear what their position is on this issue. Why are you so defensive of them?
patchitup1 August 06, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Anelli I am saying that the Town offered the Board of Ed a way to do the project that WOuLD NOT raise our taxes. The mayor and council sat there week after week talking about how they wanted to use Open space money to do it and asked the state if it was ok. After all the talks with the state the kids the people against they got approved. however the Board of Ed said No at the last meeting when they were to vote to make the deal go forward . The board of Ed killed the 4.5 million dollar deal and REPLACED it with their own 11.5 million dollar deal. So what I said is true the Mayor & council have nothing to do with this NEW plan! It's up to the Board of Ed and US voters.
Analli Citall August 06, 2012 at 06:48 PM
Patchitup. I understand who came up with this plan. My point is also very clear. What is the Mayor's and Town Council members view on this particular plan? To say they have nothing to do with it is the same as saying every other person in Parsippany has nothing to do with it. They are all Parsippany residents and tax payers. I am curious on their opinion on this proposal from the BOE.
g August 08, 2012 at 03:26 PM
Maurice, With costs of everything increasing everyday I doubt that this project will be invulnerable to increase. Unfortunately, we will only know when the project is about 75% finished.
Maurice Saunders August 08, 2012 at 05:40 PM
g, I understand that costs today could be an increase in cost in the future. That's why it is important that whatever is decided and voted on gets done the right way so there isnt creep in cost later. I would assume that with this type of projects it is straightforward on the cost associated with it.
Pete August 09, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Thank you, "ConservativeMax" -- I too was wondering how, if we didn't commit to spending more than we can afford on this crack-brained scheme, we'd end up LOSING teachers. Like the cartoon character said "Say WHA??" This has got to be one of the most obvious and egregious lies I've ever seen.
Justine August 17, 2012 at 02:35 AM
Seitz should start by cutting his own salary and the administrators who make an absurd amount of money. They are simply underserving of such salaries. They do not have the expertise and the maturity to lead. They are cronies and politically connected individuals. Then he will find plenty of money to make the repairs he says are so badly needed. I just hate his threats and stupid comments. Why is this guy still here???????????
VietNam Vet August 17, 2012 at 06:03 AM
Justine, I have been saying this for along time now. Apprantly the main ones keeping him there and going along with anything he says is Mancuso, Neglia, Orme, Orthwein and Calabria so the other are out voted every time they want to do something. Seitz still doesn't have a legal contract, because the county supt. hasn't signed off on it yet and he is still working. I would like to know how he gets to keep his job and his big salary when technically he is not an employee of the school yet. I have never seen such things like this go on in any other town except in Parsippany. The mayor should have made the school board get rid of him, but he is sitting on it and not saying anything....as always. Neglia, Orme and Calabria come up for election in November. We have to vote these dead wood out now!!! They are only costing us more money everytime they open their mouths or raise their hands in another vote. The mayor's plan for the fields was $ 4.5 million, now Seitz gets his greedy hands on it and now its $ 11.5 million, WHY!!!!!!!!!!!
Justine August 19, 2012 at 07:06 PM
I totally agree with you Mr. Brown. Seitz has even sued the board for his "fake" contract. I do not know why the people of Parsippany are more vocal against this loser. Every district finds a replacement; why we continue to hold on to him? I am wondering why Mancuso and co love him so much???? He has demonstrated nothing but greed and self interest in every decision he brings forth. I know that the district will be better off without is inexistent leadership. I also wonder how he can be an employee when he "officially" has no contract with the board. Can anyone there explain this to me?
VietNam Vet August 20, 2012 at 04:19 AM
Justine the only reason he is still there is because of people like Neglia, Orme, Calabria and Mancuso. If we take them away, the others won't have a majority vote anylonger, and then maybe a few right things will get done, but the first three come up for election this year, I believe in November. We need to get these idiots out of there or we'll be back where we started from with nothing getting done except their way. Gee, its just like congress if you think about it, otherwise we are going to be at a stand still and be subjected to more fights and bickering over who did or said what again. Mr. Strumolo and Mr. Crawford tried to do that when they voted against seitz contract the first time, but was out voted by the other little clowns. We need to get rid of Orme, Neglia, and Calabria and then next year Mancuso has to go, who started the contract problems in the begining. We need new blood in there for a change, these people have been there to long. This year lets tell them we are tired of the greed and favoritism going on, and VOTE them out.
VietNam Vet August 20, 2012 at 04:30 AM
Selene, you want the this project so bad, why don't you show how big you are a fork over the dough for it, why should the seniors keep paying for yours and seitz's hairbrain dreams. We don't have any children in the schools so why do we have to continue to pay, afterall when have you offered to chip in and pay for any of our dreams or to stand up for some of the homeowners that were so badly hurt by hurricane Irene last year.

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