Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Council Majority Supports County Park Upgrade


Union County won support from Plainfield's governing body for new soccer fields in Cedar Brook Park, but to dissenters, it was a kick in the pants.

Citing a demand for soccer in Plainfield, the resolution refuted arguments against putting artificial turf fields in the park, saying only ten of its 90 acres were involved and the Olmsteds had intended that portion to be used for active recreation. Preservationists held that the park was intended only for passive recreation.

The city's Historic Preservation Commission had concluded in February that the project "cannot be done at all without doing violence to Cedar Brook Park" and dismissed it without prejudice. State preservationists wanted to do away with proposed 80-foot light poles and other proposed county improvements.

Both HPC Chairman Bill Michelson and Planning Board Chairman Ron Scott Bey spoke Monday, Scott Bey said the Planning Board approved the application "with stipulations" .but Michelson said he heard "all kinds of misinformation and confusion." He said the New Jersey State Historic Council made a "binding decision" in June that will become final when DEP Commissioner Bob Martin signs off on it.

Plainfield Corporation Counsel David Minchello said Monday having the City Council resolution of support would be "monumental in its help to the county," but Council President Cory Storch said he wanted to amend it to just the first two and last two "whereas" statements, omitting seven others that bolstered the county's case. He also wanted to remove the word "unequivocally" from the statement of support and add "subject to any ruling of local and/or state entities that have jurisdiction."

Councilwoman Gloria Taylor expressed suspicion over the resolution being presented as a new item and seemingly being in contradiction to what Michelson said.

"Now we are going against our own people," she said, calling for the resolution to be put off until the council's September meeting.

The council had to vote to accept the resolution as a new item and then Storch called for public comment.Among speakers, a coach for 130 players said other towns had better facilities and Plainfield needs a turf field that's always ready. Resident Jean Black questioned whether neighbors of the park had been polled on their views of the project. Calling it a "beautiful park," she said the county will be "changing the whole area for the people who live there."

Dr. Harold Yood said no one mentioned the medical problems with artificial turf. He said many fields are replacing artificial turf with natural turf.

Larry Quirk, vice-chairman of the HPC, said he did not receive the resolution until Monday and asked the council to consider putting it off for at least a month.

"Some of this is at least problematic," he said.

Flor Gonzalez, president of the Latin American Coalition, said all the Hispanic soccer leagues have concerns about the parks, and if she had known in advance of the new item, she would have made sure they came to the meeting and a translator would have been needed.

"Please involve the people," she said

When it came to a vote on Storch's amendments, only Storch and Taylor said "yes." Tracey Brown, Barry Goode, Bridget Rivers, Diane Toliver and Rebecca Williams voted "no."

Rivers then made a motion to pass the resolution "as is," and it passed 5-2, with Taylor and Storch voting "no."



  1. I am more concerned about the issue of installing night lighting to the park. Won't this encourage people to hang out after the park closes? Additionally, we have handball, tennis, walking trail and basketball, as well as Sunday Cricket matches. Where are they going to lay the artificial turf? The County needs to respect the fact that this is a quiet neighborhood. Sounds like a tsunami of noise, parking problems and misuse of park space to me. Build out Milt Campbell Field, there is never anyone in that park.

    1. Who stands to benefit from this? Not the residents surrounding the park. Why are we changing the historic nature of the park to accommodate a select group of people (soccer players). I’m sure no one polled the residents surrounding the park. Between the park and what they want to do with the Muhlenberg site…not good, not good at all.

  2. Just a question, why is all of the attention given to Cedarbrook Park, while Greenbrook Park is totally ignored???? I have been asking for years and no one (including our Freeholder) can give me an answer. It looks like a war zone.

  3. There is money to be made in Cedarbrook Park. Duh ! You should know that 2:07.

  4. When this matter came before the HPC, the Assistant County Counsel who handled it was completely unprepared, and then got mad at me (your trusty HPC Chairman) for expecting better information. We never said we wouldn't approve the field improvements. Several of the particulars, however, raised big concerns. If the County ever returns to the HPC to continue its case, we might work it out. Personally, the big problem is the lighting towers. It's not just the lighting, but the towers!! I don't want Plainfield to look like the Bronx. The County has needlessly turned this into a legal issue, wasting time and money in the process. The Council action was unhelpful and may lead to further legal complications.

    Just to point out one issue, they want to use synthetic turf. We actually researched what has been happening in this regard with other Olmsted parks around the country, only to find that there is no consensus about it, one way or the other. We therefore want to see product information and ask questions about the needs of soccer teams, with which we are unfamiliar. Is that too much to expect? For Union County, apparently it is.

  5. Maybe I am mistaken but doesn't cedar brook park close as dusk? What does a part that closes when the sun goes down need with lights? Upgrade the sports area but save the taxpayers some money and skip the expensive and unnecessary light towers.

  6. Question: Is Plainfield the only Union County town that does not have a park with a turf field?

  7. If synthetic turf is being used in a flood plain, what impact will all the silt have on the turf? Everyone knows the Cedar Brook floods that is one reason we have the Park there in the first place. FEMA made people raise their houses at the shore. The day after the turf is installed, will Plainfield suffer a flood? Only time will tell. A survivor of the 1973 flood.