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."