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Bernardsville Group Continues to Question Plans for Athletic Field

Letter writer presents alternative option for Bernards High Athletic Field.

Trees in an area behind Bernards High School that could be affected by plans for a new athletic field. By Linda Sadlouskos
Trees in an area behind Bernards High School that could be affected by plans for a new athletic field. By Linda Sadlouskos

Editor's note: Jeanne DePodwin of Bernardsville is a founding member of ACRES (Active Citizens For Responsible Sustainability), which since last year has presented environmental concerns about plans to construct a lower field behind Bernards High School. The group also had mounted a legal challenge to the field proposal that had been dismissed late last year.

To the editor,

Rotate the field for our children

Why is our [Somerset Hills] Board of Education (BOE) so adamant on spending our taxpayer dollars on a field that will cost 75 percent more to construct than an alternative?

Why not save $300,000 and give our children a regulation-sized field at Bernards High School? It can be done quickly, inexpensively, with no significant environmental impacts. 

ACRES (Active Citizens for Responsible Sustainability, Inc.) — with members from Bernardsville and other area communities — authorized their environmental engineer to evaluate an alternative field option, originally recommended in February by the Bernardsville Planning Board Chairman. By simply rotating the proposed BOE field 90-degrees to a north/south orientation, taxpayers can save about $300,000. 

This alternative field plan can be done quickly, with no need for a structural stormwater management system (cost savings: $61,000), no need for importing of fill (cost savings: $230,000), minimal tree clearing (40 trees instead of 250; cost savings: $9,000), no increase in stormwater runoff, minimal grading, no NJDEP permits required, no timing restrictions on tree cutting, preferred sun angle for athletes…and the list goes on.

All objections raised by the BOE to this plan have been dismissed by ACRES’ experts at the December Planning Board meeting (also see The Bernardsville News, “Setting the record straight on B’ville field issue,” 12/13/13).

At the 12/19/13 Planning Board meeting, this alternative plan generated a great deal of interest and discussion. But questions remain:

·  Why was this alternative plan never considered by the BOE’s consulting engineers, despite cost savings of $300,000?

·  How much have taxpayers been charged by the BOE’s consulting engineers since March to revise and resubmit flawed plans to regulatory agencies?

If the alternative field option had been selected, no NJDEP permits or a structural stormwater management system would have been required, all resulting in enormous cost savings. Our children could have had a field by now.

As a community, we can construct a field for our children in a fiscally and environmentally responsible manner. It is not too late to rotate the field.

As the spokesperson for ACRES, I encourage stakeholders to ask the tough questions, stay informed and call or write their Board of Education (call: 908-204-1930 or write: 25 Olcott Ave, 07924) and Borough Council members. 

Join and contribute to our efforts at www.acresinfo.org or write to ACRES, P.O. Box 555, Bernardsville, NJ  07924. We welcome your support.

Jeanne DePodwin

Bernardsville

Trustee, ACRES 

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