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Turf Fields in Kinnelon May Hinge on State's Help

Legislators drafted bill that would create Highlands requirement exemptions for turf on municipal fields.

The Kinnelon Council has not given up the fight to be able to install artificial turf on municipally-owned fields and the borough now has support from two state legislators.

The borough council had originally considered installing artificial turf on the field behind the Kinnelon Road municipal building, but was advised by the borough engineer that because the borough is located in an area protected by the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act, too many New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection exemptions would be needed for the project to come to fruition.

Board of education property, however, is exempt from many of the restrictions of the law and the borough has been working with Kinnelon Board of Education members to see if artificial turf would be feasible to be shared by the borough and school district on the high school field.

In the meantime, council members have reached out to state lawmakers for help and state Sen. Robert Gordon, D-38, has drafted a bill that would establish parity between the school district and municipality when applying for exemptions relating to artificial turf. After Sen. Joe Penacchio, R-26, agreed to be a co-sponsor of the bill, the legislation now has bipartisan support and is ready for introduction.

Kinnelon Mayor Robert Collins told the public about the bill and the council's continued quest at Thursday's meeting. He said the bill would not preclude the borough from having to apply for exemptions to construct a turf field, but it may create an easier process.

"I think the general implication is that [the legislators] don't understand why boards of education are treated differently than municipalities," Collins said.

Collins said because the borough is wet and steep-sloaped, the natural surroundings often create a hardship for projects. He noted it took nearly three years for the exemptions to be approved for a new Fire Co. 2 firehouse to be constructed on Boonton Avenue.

At the same meeting, Councilman Jim Freda, liaison to the Recreation Department, spoke about continued interest in recreational programs, despite the poor conditions of the existing field behind the municipal building.

"The good news is that we have a very active recreation program. The bad news is we really don't have enough fields to meet the needs of the borough," Collins said.

Freda said the field behind the municipal building is "beyond repair" and the borough is trying to do whatever is possible to at least make the field safe enough to play on.

Councilman Ron Mondello, who reached out to legislators for support, warned the public that even when introduced, the state legislation is not a promise that an artificial turf field will be installed in Kinnelon.

"The Senate bill has to get passed. If it does get passed, it certainly doesn't mean that we're going to have a turf field," he said.

In addition to the Senate legislation, the mayor also said he has reached out to Gov. Chris Christie.

"My letter to the governor basically says, 'Help,'" he said.

Liberals in Action October 23, 2012 at 12:49 PM
Are these councilmen and Mayor Republicans or tax and spend liberals? They are spending time and resources on turf and yet our municipal taxes have more than doubled in the last 10 years. Why isn't the council focused on that? Back in 2001 they claimed to have raised taxes to cover a shortfall of $1.2M at the school yet taxes never went down the year after that. What happened to that extra $12m they collected since? We need some tax relief, not turf fields and impound yards. The claims we need an enclosed lot for serious crimes like murder are all BS. Since when does the local municipality head up a homicide investigation? That is handled by the county. So there is another waste of money. We do not get very much for the amount we pay for municipal taxes, why do we need turf?
Max October 23, 2012 at 08:48 PM
Turf is the dumbest idea ever. We already have like 100 fields in this town, we should dedicate them each to a sports team that way we dont have 9 teams playing 9 different sports on one field very day of the week. The thing these people fail to mention every time is that with the amount of teams using this field it will wear out in half the time. Look at kinnelons track it just had too be replaced and it doesn't get used every day like the turf field would. The field would need to be replaced in five years and would cost another million dollars this would be the dumbest expenditure the borough could possibly make at this point, i agree with the above comment they should be spending time trying to lower taxes than trying to get a turf field. Maybe if all of our councilmen paid their taxes (dan odaughtery) we would be better off. DUMP DAN ODAUGHTERY AND VOTE ANDY SANFILIPPO!!
Rose October 24, 2012 at 11:49 AM
I'm not sure Mr. SanFilipo is right for the job either-he is so connected with the rec dept which is pushing for the turf. I know he grew up here and is a very nice man, but I don't think being a councilman should hinge just on those qualifications. What Kinnelon needs is some new blood in the council. These guys have been in"office" so long, that as Ms Gilhooly mentioned at the meeting, they have become disconnected with their constituents. While I appreciate their dedication to the town, they seem burnt out and appathetic to the residents-time for them to move on. Wouldn't you WANT feedback from the taxpayers? Posting agendas? Communicating/televising meeting times? They need to take into account what ALL the residents want, not just the Badanco's or Johnsons. I'm sure Kinnelon has many professionals and passionate people that could fill the positions. Time to move into the future and leave the past as fond memories....

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