The battle to bring a turf athletic field to Kinnelon continued at Thursday night’s meeting of the Kinnelon Council, as members of the council spoke out against a New Jersey Highlands Committee ruling that the borough is prohibited from installing turf fields because of its role in water preservation for the surrounding area.
Councilman Jim Freda noted that the ruling is contradictory, as the Kinnelon school district has already been given the green light to raise funds for the eventual installation of a turf field at Kinnelon High School.
“The fact that the Highlands Committee came in and said, ‘You can’t put a turf field in Kinnelon because you’re a core water area of New Jersey, but you can put it in your school system,' it makes me say, ‘If you can put it here, why can’t you put it there?’” Freda questioned.
Freda stated that he believes Kinnelon to be at a general disadvantage due to this ruling. While surrounding municipalities are allowed to build with far fewer regulations due to having less of a role in water preservation, Freda believes that the borough is limited in what it can do construction-wise which, in turn, could hurt the residents of the borough from a property value standpoint.
“If Kinnelon’s out there saving everyone’s world and they’re continuing to build, when are we going to reap the reward? With no new building going on, what’s going to happen here?” Freda asked. “Everybody else is prospering of the water we’re saving, but Kinnelon is slowly going to be strangulated without any new building to keep our house values up. The people that are buying our houses, that’s what they’re looking for.”
Councilman Ron Mondello agreed with Freda’s sentiments.
“The turf field topic has been discussed since 2008. It’s a full undergrad degree that we have been discussing this particular subject,” Mondello said. “The borough receives no compensation for being the protector of the water. That is an honorable job, but we seem to be getting kicked in the teeth for doing it.”
Mondello told the council and members of the public on Thursday night that he vows to take action, including informing New Jersey State Sen. Bob Gordon, a personal friend of the councilman’s who also happens to be in support of the Highlands Committee, of the ruling’s ill effects on Kinnelon.
“I intend to call Senator Gordon, stop by his house and just let him know how this is hurting Kinnelon,” Mondello said. “It’s hurting us in a very bad way.”