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UPDATED: School Board Mulling Council Recommendations on Field Use Policy, Neighbors Still At Odds

BOE responded to some council recommendations though, plans to make a decision June 26

The Ridgewood Board of Education said at its Monday meeting that it would need more time before making a decision on the council's.

New liaison to the Fields Committee Charlie Reilly reported to the education board that of the proposal and its new recommendations. The committee did, however, did bring some specifics to the table in response to the village.

The village–in contrast to the school board, which –objected to the lack of a concrete number of nights RHS Stadium Field could be in use until 10:00 p.m. In return, Reilly said, Ridgewood HS Director of Wellness Nick Szerbo and the Committee both agreed that no more than 20 nights out of the year would be reasonable. The Fields Committee and school board have long maintained that given how schedules change each year, , if not burdensome.

"It's a number they felt comfortable with," Reilly said. Still, he prefaced his remark by noting there's a worry that "the council will say it's too many [nights]."

The school board is also leaning toward adding the provision that an occasional Thursday may be in the 10 p.m. mix, as a result of the Jewish holidays altering the schedule.

When asked by Board President Michele Lenhard if neighbors had objected to the total of 20 nights at RHS Stadium, Reilly said only neighbor Jim Morgan was in attendance and he didn't object at the time.

[Editor's Note: The following three paragraphs were included late Tuesday, June 14 to include Jim Morgan's comments on the Fields Committee's proposal at RHS Stadium.]

However, the neighbors say they still absolutely object to the total of 20 nights, which Jim Morgan said appeared an arbitrary number.

In an e-mail sent to village and school officials, Morgan said: "No one asked the neighbors what their thoughts were on the 20 nights proposal so I am unaware of the basis for any conclusion that we will find it acceptable. I attended the FC [Fields Committee] meeting in question as an observer," adding that his comments were not "sought" and the reception he receives doesn't encourage speaking "to everything that is said."

Szerbo only "needed" six nights during the course of the year, so the number proposed is "excessive," Morgan said. "We object to the proposal and believe something like 8 nights per year would be appropriate. We are all energized by the prospect of night football games and are supportive for the use of the field for these purposes. Let's set the number at 8 and reexamine the issue if necessary in the future," Morgan concluded.

The Fields Committee's sports group representatives were also apparently miffed by what was called a "loss" of playing time on Veteran's Field.

The council had in its resolutions recommended that Veterans Field have a 9:45 p.m. end time Monday through Saturday. The current policy, which remains in effect until both the council and school board agree to revisions, allows games to be played until 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday but allows for 10 p.m. "lights off" times on Friday and Saturday.

School board members said, notably Sheila Brogan, said that is "inconsistent" with the council's recommendations to the school board-owned fields, specifically Stevens Field.

"I thought we were trying to match that with the exception of summer," Brogan said, comparing Vets and Stevens end times. The school-board approved plan allowed for a series of weekday nights to go until 10 p.m. to accommodate for the RBSA baseball and softball games.

Lenhard said she'd like the council to provide "clarification" as to the "inconsistency".

Board Vice President Bob Hutton mused that on the same day of The Ridgewood News cover on the council's rejection of the policy, The Record ran a story on the epidemic of childhood obesity.

"Wouldn't it be better to have a trade-off of one hour of additional exercise for a larger group of individuals instead of watching the TV?" Hutton asked.

"I think the challenge is how do we differentiate and work with the council on this?" Lenhard said, pointing out differences of opinion between the board and council.

"I think it's a question of how we move forward," Lenhard said.

"I personally would like to work together with the council. This relationship has been successful and what numbers we reach to do that . . . because we are so tightly bound with these facilities."

The board agreed to study the council recommendations and have a response on its June 26 meeting.

Inigo de Loyola June 14, 2011 at 05:58 PM
Hutton's a hoot ! Using his twisted logic, extending the lighting policy to 10PM will solve childhood obesity in Ridgewood. Amen.
Boyd A. Loving June 14, 2011 at 06:58 PM
The "inconsistency" Ms. Brogan refers to is very defendable. Village owned property (Village Hall, the Ridgewood Public Library, Graydon South Parking, the HoHoKus Brook, and Linwood Avenue) creates an effective buffer zone around Vets Field. There is no such buffer zone around Stevens Field; it is immediately adjacent to several homes. Thus, a 10PM lights out policy works at Vets; it would not work at Stevens.
PLAYAC June 14, 2011 at 07:08 PM
One change I wish the BOE and the Village Council would consider from the originally submitted Field Use Policy proposal is to allow lights on certain fields until 9 pm on Sunday (current policy allows until 9pm) vs. the current proposal to not allow any lights after 7pm on Sundays. Given current use of fields by the various rec. and travel teams for soccer, baseball, lacrosse, football and softball, there is limited time for other Ridgewood groups (such as organized adult sports) to use the fields other than at later times during the weekend.
James Kleimann June 14, 2011 at 07:11 PM
There was a brief comment or two by Mr. Reilly that there are homes on the north of Vets as well. If memory serves, he was referencing Warren Place.
Boyd A. Loving June 14, 2011 at 08:00 PM
The homes on Warren Place and North Irving Street are further away from Vets than homes on North Irving Street, Overbrook Road, Beverly Road, and Heermance Place are from Stevens Field.
jimmy k June 15, 2011 at 12:57 AM
the effort u people put on the lights on the fields, graydon pool, sidewalk tables laws and other non-issues and put the effort in lowering taxes, lowering our water bill,parking rates and the BOE out of control spending then maybe we would make a REAL change for a better town to live in
jimmy k June 15, 2011 at 02:30 AM
all im trying to say is that the BIG issue and TALK is all about these lights in the village.... and the issue on these lights ..is it the money???? or the lights being on too late for the neighbors that bought a home next to a field???..as for the fields? i voted no . i would agree with u if u are saying we shouldnt have spend the money on the lights and the fields...but this fight and political talk is just gone on too long..thats all...arent there any other more important issues..i dont know..maybe there isnt.
James Kleimann June 15, 2011 at 03:47 AM
Some semblance of civility is required for commenting. Calling people names is not.
PLAYAC June 15, 2011 at 01:18 PM
Thanks James. Wilson - I'm actually thought of as a fairly altruistic person by most people I know. Insanity - hardly, haven' t spent a day at Bellevue yet. Imbecile - you may have a point there as I didn't win the national spelling bee. As for the lights, I actually live by one of the fields that has lights so I see them all week. As for "extending the hours", I'm not asking for an extension but for the existing policy regarding Sunday to remain in place so groups of men (and women) who are taxpayers can continue to utilize the fields on Sunday night. Sorry, I don't enjoy running but would love to see you come out and play with us on the pitch - just don't bring your legos.
Laurie Goodman June 16, 2011 at 01:20 AM
Darn...seems I missed a fiesty comment from Wilson about Sunday nights. ;) I'm glad to see someone mentioning the adults who use the fields. Many residents would be surprised at how many adults use our fields for organized soccer leagues, flag football and softball. Because the youth programs get first priority, the adult rec programs are relegated mostly to evenings and other less desirable times.
Dominick Nizza June 16, 2011 at 10:44 AM
To All: Let's add another "sports event" to this discussion. The New York Times published the "Homework over the Summer" (yes or no) topic that had over 350 comments, with many 'Ridgewood former students' added their views. How about it James, maybe that would be a good new one to get started? "Is there a level homedwork playing field for ALL students?" Perhaps Laurie Goodman can help?

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