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'Field of Dreams' Keeps Moving Forward

Athletic Field Committee estimates new multi-use facility would cost $1.9 million.

A proposed new multi-use athletic field would cost an estimated $1.9 million, although grants and possible corporate sponsorship could reduce the amount the average New Milford taxpayer would pay, according to discussion at the mayor and council work session Monday night.

Director of Recreation John Bigger reported on the status of the findings of the Athletic Field Committee. 

The Athletic Field Committee had recommended to the mayor and council in February that the David E. Owens Middle School is the location best suited to support a new multi-purpose community field. This field would be a shared service between the borough and the New Milford Board of Education.

The committee is comprised of townspeople, Superintendent of Schools Michael Polizzi, representatives from the Board of Education, NMHS Athletic Director Joe Ricciardelli and football coaches. 

The multi-purpose field would be a turf field and include a soccer, football and baseball field, in addition to two softball fields. 

The approximate cost of the field is an estimated $1.9 million based on $8 per square foot. However, Bigger said that given the state of the economy, there are towns in Bergen County that have put in turf fields for approximately $5 per square foot.

As a next step to firm up the cost of the project, Bigger suggested that the borough engineer perform a test at the Middle School to determine the cost of drainage for the field. Bigger said that must be done before the township and school board can apply for grants to assist with the funding of the field, so that by February 2013 all costs not covered by the grants will be determined.   

In order to be eligible for any grants, the Board of Education and the borough must come up with a lease agreement by Feb. 2013.   

Councilwoman Randi Duffie said that making the Community Field happen "will be a wonderful venture" between the borough and the Board of Education.  

Borough attorney Mark Madaio said that in order to proceed with the writing of the grants there has to be a memorandum of understanding between the borough and the Board of Education, as well as a lease agreement between the two.

The mayor and council discussed that if the borough receives a grant for 75 percent of the cost they will have to fund approximately $600,000, plus the fees to the grant writer.  

Council President Howard Berner asked the borough attorney if corporate sponsorships might be available. Madaio said that he was not sure if a grant would preclude corporate sponsorship and would look into it.   

The council agreed that it would be prudent to obtain a price for the entire project before going further.  

Mary McElroy, a member of the Athletic Field subcommittee, and a taxpayer, said that she wants to know much how the installation of a new field will cost each taxpayer.

McElroy said that if the facility costs taxpayers an additional $50 annually, she believes that they will be okay with it.

"I spend $50 at Burger King with my kids," McElroy said. "I would have no problem forgoing cleats or lunch to have a brand new field that the kids can play on."

McElroy ended by saying, "As my elected officials, I will be asking you where you stand on the financing and bonding of this project. It’s coming out of our pockets and it's something that many of us in town would want to pay for." 

concerned resident April 18, 2012 at 06:46 PM
Bobby, if it's not a borough field what is it??? I am 100 percent against the field at the middle school and will fight against it all the way!!
Concerned resident too April 19, 2012 at 03:49 AM
At a time when school budgets are being cut and programs eliminated, New Milford’s “Field of Dream Team” should not be so dismissive of other ideas. It is clear that the field committee does not want to use what many consider the “best space,” the space behind the Borough hall. They have admitted that the location already works “fine for now,” but they would rather spend more of the taxpayers money to do the MS field. Since moving to New Milford in the mid nineties I have seen my taxes more then double. The Town should be looking to cut spending and waste and stop trying to create a second facility that the town cannot afford. DN is correct and “we all need to work together"...that includes Little League! Let the town build a real town sports facility behind the Borough Hall. It is close enough to the High School, Little League would benefit by having a better field and so would the recreation program. There could even be room for the track. And Like Robert stated, much of the infrastructure is already in place. Of course there is the added benefit of “no Flooding” or “poor drainage” as Marry likes to call it. If the town has its heart set on a new football field, then build it where it makes the most sense and will cost us, the tax payer, the least amount of money. Building it in the middle of a residential neighborhood, on a swamp(I did not say flood area), with no infrastructure to speak of does not meet any of these requirements.
james April 19, 2012 at 06:50 PM
I'm going to agree with both concerned citizen one and concerned resident too. I have a feeling that there is only one way that the Dream of Fields will be pushed on the rest of the residents of New Milford. I do not think that any consideration is being considered for those on fixed incomes and that isn't only senior citizens. There are many of us who can't $50 on Burger King for our kids. I guess when you have that kind of food budget taxes aren't a big concern.
concerned student April 20, 2012 at 09:27 AM
i am a current NMHS student and have discussed this topic with teachers and fellow students. the consensus i've reached? most people think the idea is quite ridiculous. some high school athletes don't like the idea of playing at the middle school. shifting many athletic activities and transforming a swampy plain into a brand-new turf is a long, arduous process and as someone who had walked the entirety of the middle school field, i can vouch--you don't want to be there after a good rain. the field is muddy and messy and stays that way for at least a couple of days. granted, the entire middle school field is colossal; i can see why many people would think of it as a candidate for a new athletic venue. personally, i say why not just use some of the taxpayer's money to do some serious high school field repairs? i walk the track for gym class several times a week, i was even there today. the high school field floods differently than the middle school--rather than soaking it up, the water level rises and the track resembles a lake--but after a day or two, it's all gone.
concerned student April 20, 2012 at 09:29 AM
..as opposed to the middle school absorbing all of the rainwater and making for a sloppy playing field. if not the high school, the borough hall has several fields to use. it is surrounded by the swim club, the tennis and basketball courts, a large playground, and the nearby shopping center—in addition to several snack stands and bathrooms. very many students (from young kids to preteens) utilize the borough hall field as their primary spot for hanging out with each other, watching their friends compete in sports, and are content with having it as their ‘hotspot’. more sporting activities taking place at borough hall fields could perhaps boost buisness for the nearby restaurants and stores. the middle school has three remotely-surrounding businesses—an autobody shop and a hair salon (which are things one makes appointments for based on necessity), and a bagel shop that closes at five o’clock.
concerned student April 20, 2012 at 09:29 AM
as a student and one who uses all three fields, i just don’t feel as though the middle school would provide the most hospitable athletic environment. the borough hall is the town’s core for activity, the high school is where most athletes reside, both venues have nearby business that benefit from the onslaught of both pregame and aftergame purchases, and both nearby residents are already used to the noise, light, and traffic. the middle school field is quiet, swampy, (while some sport teams have games on it, they are quite small compared to the crowds at the big games) and almost purely residential. aside from sheer size, what does it have going for it?
Mary McElroy April 20, 2012 at 01:49 PM
I encourage you to come out to the public meeting when it's announced and share your mature feedback. Perhaps you & your fellow HS students who think the recommendation is "ridiculous" would articulate the 'serious repairs that you propose for the HS field', maybe we overlooked something that won't end up in the Hackensack River or on Madison. As a HS student, I'm sure that you are aware that the HS does primarily use the MS field-both girl's softball and freshman baseball are there now. I pass the freshman team walking up from the HS for practice. I've already stated several times why the MS was chosen. As much as we'd all like to have this complex at the HS, due to the flooding it just wasn't feasible. I don't believe Borough is a better choice using the criteria of increasing quality & quantity of options. I'm sure you and many of your friends played both rec & travel sports there & those fields serve the younger kids very well. If anything, they've grown in useage given the number of travel teams we have. I agree that the MS is a "ridiculous" choice but only if you put NIMBY as the top criteria for making a recommendation. While concern for residential settings was important, NIMBY did not make the list. Finally, please introduce yourself to me-as a parent of a HS student, I'd love to know your secret for getting up for school before 5:30AM-I could really use it with my HS son & I think a lot of parents w/ teenager would as well!
student April 23, 2012 at 11:49 PM
why can't we just do a swap (like mayor subrizi suggests) with united water property and the field behind the high school and build the field of dreams on the uw property? would that be possible? it seems as though that area is less likely to be a flooding concern. it can accommodate traffic concerns (we already have experienced the traffic as a result of the high school games, and its not bad). a lot of people do not want the uw property to be developed/zoned commercial. as concerned student pointed out, there are businesses that could boost their sales nearby... and i agree that the field behind the middle school may not be suitable for the plans in mind.
JG April 24, 2012 at 03:34 AM
Im reading all these comments and quite honestly Im shocked by everyone's responses. No one is thinking about the big picture and the future for our kids. The alleged student responses are absolutely out of line and unbelievable. I think that Ms McElroy has done a phenomenal job at trying to make the best use of the properties and everyone has just provided negativity. There is allot at stake here for all properties and quite honestly will determine the future of the town residents and scholastic / athletic possibilities. I hear allot of residents stating they are on fixed incomes and dont want tax increases. I dont either but your kids went to school here and mine need to as well. If I have to sent them to private school, its a result of your decisions. Dont just think about the immediate think about the future. The UW debackle is a shame, they could have sold to the town for $1 and took the tax writeoff, the choice to make money at the expense of us taxpayers. Its an issue we need to address and it wont go away. Stay strong and positive as we CAN overcome this poilicital corruption with these builders. Thanks!
JG April 24, 2012 at 03:37 AM
Oh btw, the parents hiding behind the "concerned students" and 'concerned residents" , give it up!!!!!
concerned resident too April 24, 2012 at 04:52 AM
Hey JG, quit hiding behind your initials and put your money where your mouth is...who are you?
JG April 24, 2012 at 04:59 AM
Hey concerned resident, how about YOU reveal yourself without a name or a reason, just a slogan, concerned citizen. How about you put up your words as well and make something of it. I see nothing but words...
concerned resident too April 24, 2012 at 05:00 AM
JG, I don't think a football field is going to help your kids get a better education. And as far as you having to possibly send your children to a private school...that is not a result of the many residents against the field at DEO...it is a result of yourself thinking that a football field will give your children "scholastic possibilities" Give me a break...what a joke!
JG April 24, 2012 at 05:07 AM
This is starting to become personal with some of you (concerned resident too) which I understand however the issue is much greater than we can imagine. The political perpercussions and potential irreversible tragedies at stake are uncomprehensible for the residents of New Milford, Oradell and other towns affected by flooding and over bulding. The solution is investment in the town of New MIlford. And that does not mean building in the UW area. The town has enough vacant buildings, we dont need any more. BTW thx Concerned
concerned resident too April 24, 2012 at 05:14 AM
Thank you too JG!!! Have a good night :)
JG April 24, 2012 at 05:22 AM
CONCERNED RESIDENT TOO...Its obvious you dont have kids in the school system or ever had. Your comments are appauling. IIf I choose to send my kids to private school because our town system doesnt work, my choice. I am paying HUGE property taxes as a result of years of mismanagement and you decide to make a point of playing words. Athletic activities can help our children mold their futures and enhance their lives yet you narrow it down to just a football field. Im sorry that you feel that way however I support STRONGLY athletic annd scholastic possibilities in this town. The DEO is a solution for this town to be competitive fields and programs, we dont right now. Its unfortunate that YOU dont see that.
JG April 24, 2012 at 05:30 AM
show yourself Concerned resident, show yourself!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
robin commerford April 24, 2012 at 01:00 PM
RC We don't want ongoing traffic congestion, parking problems, noisy crowded bleachers, concession food stands, glaring stadium lights, more tax increases, possible flooding and depreciation of our property values, trees being uprooted and generally the end of our quiet, peaceful neighborhood!!! The whole idea is ridiculous!
robin commerford April 24, 2012 at 01:02 PM
We have a football field in town, why do we need another one??
Concerned Parent 1 April 24, 2012 at 03:34 PM
Thank you Robin! I agree 100 percent!!
james April 24, 2012 at 03:37 PM
JG if you choose a private school for athletic fields then that is your choice. As parents we make decisions for our children based on what WE see is best for them. I choose private school because I felt at that time that academically it was better for my children. I voted yes for every budget for the public shcool because I felt that it was important for the town to have a good school system and that is what it has become from what I have heard. I agree that something should be done for the athletic fields but do not feel that the middle school is the answer. I also think that our students have excelled in the arts but we aren't building any new facilities for those interested in the arts either. Nor do I think it should be done now during this economic downturn. An observation here is that you should review what and how you state your argument. The impression one has when one reads the written word is important if you want to attract others to your position.
Concerned Parent 1 April 24, 2012 at 03:44 PM
I also agree with Tony Mac, Concerned citizen, concerned resident too, concerned student and student. And not for nothing JG I don't see you showing yourself. I would hardly say that using the initials JG which probably aren't even yours counts for showing yourself. Oh and don't blame having to send your kids to private school on us. Blame it on yourself for wanting to waste money on a pretty new field instead of putting money in to our school system to improve the quality of the education in New Milford. I agree with you concerned resident too!
concerned student April 24, 2012 at 04:30 PM
why are you yelling?
Concerned Parent 1 April 24, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Perfectly said James. I could not agree more!
concerned student April 24, 2012 at 05:12 PM
JG, how is my response out of line? when i said that the middle school field idea was "ridiculous", those were not my words! i was only quoting my teachers' and peers'. let me make this clear for you, sir/madam: haha no, i'm not a parent, i'm only sixteen (though a lot of people my age lately are, unfortunately, both). i am not trying to "provide negativity", i am giving my opinion. i respect all of your opinions (no matter which side they support) and i expect mine to be respected in return. also, why are you so anxious to know who we are? it's rather hypocritical of you to suggest that we reveal ourselves while you hide behind initials. the beauty of an open forum on the internet is the ability to retain, if desired, respectful and mutually-understood anonymity. if you decide to send your child to a private school based solely on this...what a pity. athletics are important, but they aren't everything.
student April 25, 2012 at 02:37 AM
i agree that the field of dreams is an important investment in the lives of future students/children like MYSELF... however, we have to think a lot more carefully about how we handle the situation. i agree completely with concerned student. however, isnt there a significant flood risk involved with the fields behind the borough hall? take a look at this flood plan map: http://www.newmilfordboro.com/attachments/058_NM%20EXT%208.5x11(flood%20plain).pdf practically the whole park is under it. i recall the fields were under water recently. theres really nothing else i can say, no more ideas than the one offered in my previous comment about the UW property. it appears that is really the only ideal land area for this proposed field of dreams.
tony mac May 09, 2012 at 11:43 AM
RE: field of dreams...... Read today's paper. Washington township last night voted NOT to pursue a turf field in their town due to the current financial crisis. Let us hope our mayor and council and board of Ed use common sense and put this towns field of dreams to bed!
Mary McElroy May 09, 2012 at 12:45 PM
Yes, Tony thanks for the update but you should also mention that in September of 2011 this district put in a beautiful new athletic turf complex at the Jr./Senior HS for the benefit of the Washington Township/Westwood Regional School District. So lucky them, they already have a beautiful turf facility. What was proposed & decided against in Washington Township would have been in addition to their new complex - basically another facility to serve their younger/recreational programs. That's certainly much different than what NM is looking to accomplish with a school/municipality shared approach. Most of us would be delighted with one decent nice facility that doesn't flood. In actuality, the existing facilities that they were looking to turf are better than what we currently have. You might want to drive past those fields and also look at their new complex before you compare it to NM.
Jeff Jones November 07, 2012 at 02:24 PM
I just wish parents of New Milford would stop thinking about the cost and start thinking your children and there future.
james November 07, 2012 at 03:30 PM
Jeff that is exactly what most were thinking about when voting NO. They were thinking of the future of paying for a field for a select group and not all the children of NM. They were thinking about the cost and how to show their children that instant gratification usually does not make sense and LONG TERM results are what needs to be looked at bottom line. They were thinking that they could give them a future that would enhance and benefit the whole town.

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