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'Turf Our Fields' Urges Support of BOE Referendum

Citizen committee has published a website of information regarding the high school athletic fields' improvement proposal.

A group of citizens have come together to promote the school district's case in advance of the athletic fields improvement referendum scheduled for Jan. 22.

The Turf Our Fields collective is made up of residents who support the Board of Education's $7.7 million plan to improve athletic facilities at Parsippany High School and Parsippany Hills High School.

The proposal, which would be bonded and cost the average Parsippany homeowner about $30 a year for 10 years, would install artificial turf fields to replace the schools' grass football fields; renovate existing six-lane track ovals; restore earthwork, tracks, curbing and sidewalk to visitor bleachers; install storm water management systems; install barrier free accessibility to fields and grandstands; replace existing fences and add sports field lighting systems and public restrooms.

The TOF committee has published a website offering details of the referendum plan in an effort to ensure that residents are informed before the Jan. 22 vote. The website offers cost breakdowns for the project, a frequently answered questions page and an online brochure with facts about the effort and links to BOE documents on the plan.

Among the documents referenced is a presentation on multi-purpose athletic fields given by Superintendent of Schools LeRoy Seitz dated Dec. 2012. (The document link brings up a page that no longer exists on the BOE server, however, a Google cache search provides the page.)

The document puts forth that the refurbished high school "athletic complexes" will serve the Parsippany-Troy Hills School District and community for a minimum of 25 years to provide safe, appropriate facilities for physical education classes, school bands, interscholastic sports teams and township recreation programs. The fields, Dr. Seitz wrote, will also serve as "safe and appropriate facilities" for students, parents, community members and visiting teams and their supporters, allowing them "to watch an event in comfort and in the evening." He added that the upgrade also will create new fundraising opportunities for student and booster groups.

The Turf Our Fields committee pleads the project's case in a letter being  distributed to residents.

"Our high school fields are used by township children and adults for athletics, club activities and recreation such as jogging and walking," the letter states. "There is no disagreement that these facilities have far surpassed their life expectancy, need to be upgraded and are not up to the standards set by other schools in our county."

The letter states that the high school fields "sit idle for well over 300 days each year" and that their grass surfaces "cannot withstand the punishment and cannot grow due to poor drainage and other issues."

"Patches have been applied to repair the tracks but act only as temporary band-aids," the letter goes on to say. "The fences that encircle the fields are broken, rusted and dangerous. [Americans with Disabilities Act] standards and the use of port-a-johns are inadequate and need to be replaced with permanent restrooms. The project will save our district tens of thousands of dollars each year that is currently used for grass field maintenance and busing of students to off-campus town facilities."

Supporters argue that the project will be a boon for more than Red Hawks and Vikings football players.

"The new facilities will be used for physical education classes, football, boys & girls soccer, field hockey, lacrosse, band, track and field, cheerleading, baseball, softball and local recreational programs as time permits," the letter says. "The project will provide residents with areas for recreational activities such as jogging and walking. It will provide all residents with unobstructed access to the fields and bleachers and a safer track surface for walkers and runners."

In urging Parsippanians to vote yes for the referendum on Jan. 22, the Turf Our Fields committee say supporting the fields upgrade is investing "in our kids, our community and our future."

The group also has established a page on Facebook with information and points to the BOE website as a source of more infomation regarding the referendum.

Sick of the trolls January 11, 2013 at 09:11 PM
See, "clyde," that's it, right there: it's not that I necessarily disagree with your opinion (when I can decipher it, that is), it's that you say things like "the spoiled parents of a handful of children who participate in sports" as if that is any way to talk to or about other people. You have no respect for others, you cannot speak civilly, and your posts are almost always incorrect (as at least three other people on this thread alone have pointed out to you) or irrelevant, when they are not libelous. If you at least had the guts to sign your real name to them, I would leave you alone, but since you pull your shenanigans under a real sounding pseudonym, I mock you the way you mock others. You add nothing to the discussion, and I really wish you would just go away.
Chris January 11, 2013 at 09:36 PM
This is a classic exercise in futility. Clearly there are those in favor and those opposed. This is always the case with any decision that has to be made. The facts stand for themselves. I have to assume that some people believe that they can influence someone else to change their minds. There are 122 posts on this article and has anyone come out and said.."oh, you're correct, I changed my mind"? The only issue I have is that there are many facts being distorted and words being twisted to make points. The political process has become clouded with negativity, disdain and mistrust. The media glorifies the outrageous and profane. And we have all become part of it, caught up in it and destroyed by it. "instead of the rest of world becoming like us, we're becoming like the rest of world, tribal" Vote your conscience.
Scott Dean January 11, 2013 at 10:01 PM
Chris, for me I disagree I have changed from a no to a yes.As soon as this proposal came up publicly anyway,I was against it for the secrecy and because of what I thought to be hijacking of funds from the open space. I am shocked that these fields are in the same condition since I was in school in the late 80's. I hope it passes,for the future of all not only my child but believe the only way to avoid a future problem regarding field maintenence is to find out what happened in the past to make sure it doesnt happen again?
Chris January 11, 2013 at 10:19 PM
Scott, Thanks for pointing out that I was wrong and you changed your mind. However, you have to agree that you are in the very extreme minority. And if you step back and really look at all of us as a whole, we have become tribal. I for one don't like it and won't accept it as the norm. Not much I can do though.
Scott Dean January 11, 2013 at 10:29 PM
You are correct lines have been drawn on the patch. For my part I hope our behavior on here will advise all of our public leaders to be forthcoming about their ideas,and actually join in the conversation on the patch.In fact if they were all fighting for the kids why would we have so many issues that the public is trying to decipher.
clyde donovan January 11, 2013 at 10:40 PM
Poor "troll" got kicked off on NJ.com and is now here on Patch stalking people. "troll" you need to use your real name.
Chris January 12, 2013 at 03:30 AM
Again, I agree, but I ask you, who will be the one to step up and stand for unification rather than division. I will always support those who work for unification. Compromise will always be what is best for any community. Sometimes you have to work WITH people rather than against them. I welcome a constructive discussion. I fear that we have become even more divided than ever because of retribution, competition and vendettas. Who will step forward to create a platform of unity... and in todays environment, who will listen? We are stronger when we are unified. Right now there is a great divide, we are weak.
Robyn M. January 12, 2013 at 05:51 AM
This is not rhetorical, it's an honest question. If the budget was realistic every year, and everyone approved the budget and said, "Yes, this is the right amount," and very little money was actually spent on maintaining the property, there should be a surplus. Why is 100% of the money for this project being sought now? Is there $0 surplus? What happened to money that any normal budget would have (there's always an accounting formula with a factor ascribed to property, so it had to have been in there)? Shouldn't we have some of the money that we didn't spend squirreled away somewhere?
Robyn M. January 12, 2013 at 05:53 AM
Do you believe people who look at homes in towns look behind the schools before purchasing? The test scores speak volumes and are readily available - in fact, many of the realtors directly link to them. I wish I'd paid more attention myself, at the time.
Robyn M. January 12, 2013 at 06:20 AM
For me, what builds credibility is transparency. I don't think you can be unified if you suspect others are doing things on the sly. If a new business wants to build in Parsippany, we ask the heavy questions - what will be the impact of the noise? the lighting? the parking? the environmental impact? But, when it comes to our OWN planning, we are handed down edicts and ominously warned that the "cost of delaying these projects are… Increased construction costs due to multiple, smaller projects, possible increase in interest rates, Interconnection of options." The PowerPoint includes a random selection of local high schools that could be weighted to give the impression most have turf (I don't know at all, but it's just not good math - you need to show all of Morris County, or all of NJ, otherwise it's just fluff). What's the annual maintenance cost now for our fields? What will it be after turf? Will jobs be lost, due to less need for upkeep by current staff? There is not one option or alternative evaluated - has a lawn expert come out to talk about grading/filling the fields and fixing the grass, plus a local fence company, etc? I wonder what the enviro impact would be to homeowners near schools - I don't flood, but my neighbors often have pumps going on rainy days. Will it be the same, better or worse? Parsippany has had it's share of flood woes, for sure. We need to know this. I'm not totally against this. Won't vote yes, in good conscience, without facts.
Scott Dean January 12, 2013 at 11:55 AM
Chris, Im with you about stepping up, the uestion is this is the responsability of those we elected.If us common folk speak up we our chastized and targeted.If the leaders and decision brokers stepped up and did the right thing without fear of upsetting the voting pools this whole field issue would probably be resolved. Being wrong and admitting mistakes is quite liberating thats the only way to move on,and give credability back to those in charge..
Sick of the trolls January 12, 2013 at 01:56 PM
"clyde," I will use my real name when you do.
Beth Bluj January 12, 2013 at 02:35 PM
Robyn - all good questions. I am an not an environment or turf expert so I will not try to answer these questions for you. However, I do believe that you can find some of the answers on the Q&A portion of the website. In regards to which schools in Morris County do/do not have turf - the list given on the website is accurate. I have been to lots of schools throughout NJ over the years, and I would feel confident in saying that the grass ones are becoming harder and harder to find. Lawn is NOT an option in conjunction with what is trying to be accomplished and that is to make multi-surface playing fields that all sports/phys. ed classes can use. Grass or sod will not allow that to happen. All we get is a nice grass field that is used for football. Just not practical any more. Still have to bus kids to other fields, still can't use in the bad weather, and will still need much more daily maintenance than turf. I will continue to disagree with anyone who thinks that this has been done with secrecy. This topic has been in the forefront for over a year now with much debate (often nasty). The BOE listened to the people and maintained control and put it to a referendum. They have answered questions, and continue to do so. A lot of people want to vote no on principle alone, but then we are still in the same boat. I only ask that if you can get the answers you are looking for, you will consider voting yes. Thank You.
Robyn M. January 12, 2013 at 09:50 PM
I have read the Powerpoint and the answers are not in there. There are no sources for cost estimates, nor impacts noted for the neighborhoods referring back to actual engineers who looked at this. I'm sure it is right that certain schools have turf - what %, though? I live pretty close to a high school. My backyard gets very soggy, at times (we are not in a flood zone at all) - didn't know this in the dry spell in which we bought our house. Luckily, my house itself, is on a higher level. Our neighbors are not so lucky - up & down the street there are plenty of water woes. We hear the games right now, although I don't see the light. If the light is substantially higher, I don't see how it's possible that we won't see it if it's going to be 3x higher and brighter, even if it's pointed downwards. As to secrecy - I mean, in general. You don't trust people who continually do strange things - accuse each other internally, bicker amongst themselves, elect the guy with the least votes - the norm here. We pay significantly more than average in property taxes, and I think it would be more detrimental to our property values to have potentially more water on our property, as well as more light or noise. As to the schools, I am debating sending my kids elsewhere, due to the academic ratings, at this point. We can pay this much in taxes in a town with better schools.
4kidsproductions January 13, 2013 at 09:20 PM
If this doesn't get passed I will most likely move to another country. This issue has me so riled up I say the most disturbing and disgusting things. You see, when you are as lonely and shallow as I am, you tend to rant and rave. As I sit here in my basement in a cold dark corner I think that the fields are more important than academics. I mean, who cares if our kids can't read, write or do math. What we need are turf fields like my friend Beth Bluj and Chris Joyce have said. We are all useful idiots at the end of the day and we have no idea as to what we talk about.
Cindy Blair January 13, 2013 at 10:17 PM
My question is in regards to the $30/year, .09 cents a day it will cost the everyone is concertrating on. I have read the referendum and the powerpoint and all i can find is vague wording such as "the AVERAGE homeowner" and "APPROXIMATELY $30 per year." I can only assume these figures are based on tax assessments/home values. My home is valued at $600,000 and my taxes are $12,000 a year. Am I to believe that I will be paying the same amount ($30) as someone who is living in a bungalow in Lake Hiawatha or Lake Par?
Mike January 13, 2013 at 11:01 PM
Probably not Cindy...if it's based on the 300k looks like that could be doubled for you and all alike. Then in ten years the fields will need to be returfed and where will this money come from...You of course...another ten years of 60 a year..and then again and again...Stop this insanity and just get the fields in shape..
Bob Crawford January 13, 2013 at 11:39 PM
Cindy Mike is correct. The $30 estimate is based on an "average" house's value in Parsippany which, is I think, is in the neighborhood of $306,000. So your taxes, given the assessed value of your house, will increase approximately $60. That $60. will be added on to the automatic annual increase the Board is allowed to levy each year as long as their budget is not increased by an amount in excess of 2%. The BOE realized two years ago that by keeping the increase to 2% or less they could avoid having to put the proposed annual budget in front of the voters for their review and approval. So your school taxes next year will include the $60 as well as the tax dollars that are required to pay off the annual charges related to the $47 million dollar renovation referendum that passed a number of years ago as well as the tax dollars that are required to run the district most of which go to paying for salaries and benefits. You may one day, in the not too distant future, look back at a $12,000 tax bill as the good old days.
Frank Stross January 13, 2013 at 11:58 PM
Bob I agree!!
Sick of the trolls January 14, 2013 at 04:18 PM
Wait, lemme get this straight: you chose for your pseudonym the name of the production company that brought us such intelligent and educational classics as Pokemon and Bratz, and you're going to come in here and rail against people using their real names? You're really going to tell us you care more about education than they do, yet we don't even know who you are, other than that you like TV shows based on trading card games and vapid dolls? Get real.
Eric Cartmann January 14, 2013 at 04:41 PM
If turf is good enough for the Giants, it's good enough for me.
Sick of the trolls January 14, 2013 at 08:06 PM
I am still an idiot. Sorry Clyde.
Sick of the trolls January 14, 2013 at 08:07 PM
I am the stooped one. Sorry.
Sick of the trolls January 14, 2013 at 08:09 PM
I have horrible BO!!!!!!!
Sick of the trolls January 14, 2013 at 08:10 PM
Maybe I will hang myself as I am a moron.
Sick of the trolls January 14, 2013 at 08:12 PM
My real name is Michael Hunt.
Natalie Davis (Editor) January 14, 2013 at 08:19 PM
This is a guess here, but wouldn't the cost to refurbish the carpet (which is all that has to be replaced according to info from the old FOD website) after, let's say, 10 years of life, be considerably lower? Wouldn't be the first time, if I am wrong, but the $30/year for the average homeowner is to cover the entire $7.7 million. I imagine the other improvements have regular maintenance from day one.
Mike January 14, 2013 at 09:46 PM
Doesn't matter what the cost of the rug is to be resurfaced. If it's 800k we the people of Parsippany will have to pay for it.
Scott Dean January 14, 2013 at 09:51 PM
We need to be weary, god forbid we get another 100 year storm for a third year in a row, It cost just 324,000 to fix carpet only at Veterans Field,Open Space money to boot...
clyde donovan January 15, 2013 at 02:05 PM
Hey, so here's a funny thing: you can create a new Patch account using already existing screen names. Like I can post as clyde donovan, even though I'm not THAT clyde donovan. Or if I wanted to be Sick of the trolls, I could just put in that name and a new email address and post whatever I wanted.

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