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Letter: Council Must Commit to Renewal of 'Town Asset'

Resident (and Democratic candidate for council) Greg Newcomer recounts a history of the Church Street Recreation Center and urges council to fund its revitalization.

To the editor:
 
The has served our town for many years. Originally erected in 1938 as the Mary E. Roberts High School gymnasium and cafeteria, it is a solidly built structure that serves many uses today. On the ground floor, it hosts a weightlifting program. On the main floor, a basketball and volleyball court serve the community. And on the third floor, many functions are held, which serve a variety of needs.

In fact, the third floor was created through a coalition comprised of a township recreation subcommittee, both rotaries, the , the FOP, township staff and administration, as well as vendors donating their supplies, who pulled together and renovated and remodeled this space. The goal of this project, known as “The 3rd Floor,” was to create a community center whose anchor purpose was youth programs. New lighting, a new floor, air conditioning, an approved Board of Health-grade kitchen, and safe, clean bathrooms were all completed as part of this project. Electrical service was extended to the third floor to serve its needs. Finally, with the assistance of a block grant, an elevator was installed giving everyone access to this new center for youth. This was all accomplished between 1997 and 2003. This effort has been an example of true community spirit.

The recreation center has served many town functions: meetings of CASA (Community Alliance on Substance Awareness), dance classes, battle of the bands, a DeCafe, and even a dinner for the town’s volunteer committees. The gym has served as a venue for regular youth sports programs. Significantly, many children who have grown up in our town learned the game of basketball in the gymnasium under the tutelage and refereeing of such people as Mike Bartello, who still works on our recreation staff, as well as many coaches who lent their time and knowledge. Volleyball and other positive recreation activities for youth have also been provided by town employees and volunteers in this gym.

Recently evaluated by engineers, staff, and others connected with recreation, this building was found to have needs in areas which had not been addressed in its previous 73 years of service. Mechanical and electrical upgrades are needed, as well as a new gym floor. A bond measure to support this work had passed on first reading at a previous council meeting and was . This one vote stopped the progress for renewal of a town asset. It set aside the work of the engineers, architects and staff we have already funded, and, more than that, it put off the plan to commit to the support of the varied youth activities which have been housed in this building and supported by community efforts for many years.

I ask council to reconsider, put back on the table, and reevaluate the need for this facility. In the words of youth advocate and former Secretary of State Colin Powell, “Communities should work to make sure each young person has an ongoing relationship with a caring adult, ideally parents—but also mentors. There should be a range of safe places and activities for non-school hours.”

Town council, let’s make a commitment to the future of our youth in this community by approving this recreation building project.

Greg Newcomer
Moorestown, NJ

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Got something to say? Email letters to the editor to rob.scott@patch.com.

Ed Nice August 13, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Leslie its all politics! We never get the full story or facts its an endless campaign. What I can't figure out is why Greg wants to bond for everything now when in 2011 he was opposed to bonding for KIDS. I think Greg should tell all the parents of sports users an explanation for bonding for the rec center but he was against KIDS.
Tax Playa August 13, 2012 at 09:27 PM
Hilarious hypocrisy! Jordan and Chiacchio want to spend money renovating an asset in disrepair when they won't fix the fields.. But there is $15 Mm lying around to build a town hall for 30 employees. Politics at its best! Newcomer-what is your platform? Spend $15 Mm on the town Total waste of money. We are heading toward Harrisburg, Stockton, Ca, et al with this wasteful spending.
James August 14, 2012 at 11:04 AM
I like Greg Newcomer as a person but he's clearly not ready for prime time. Our town is broke but he wants to waste money on solar panels, he wants to print brochures for down town, he wants a local access channel on tv. Its like a kid telling you all the wonderful things he'd do if he ran the zoo.
Confusion August 14, 2012 at 12:10 PM
I'm confused. Why do you feel the need to mock Greg? You may disagree with him but at least he is trying to help and has for years. Maybe focus on the issue rather than the authow. In doing so maybe you can explain to me how 750k is OK for the rec center but not for the fields?
Lana August 14, 2012 at 01:05 PM
why are we spending any money right now? if we have no money, government should live within its means. hold off on the fields, hold off on the rec center, hold off on everything until we are in better times..................
Freddie August 14, 2012 at 01:44 PM
Greg has done a lot for this town and has a lot of experience more than the other candidates. Solar is a great idea and way to reduce energy costs. The cable tv channel will let people see what is taking place and be more informed. If you don't think Greg is ready let him debate the others for us to judge.
Watcher August 14, 2012 at 02:28 PM
No Freddie , from previous discussion we hears the debates are canceled really not in the cards. You know our Indy candidates
Freddie August 14, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Who is afraid to debate? Greg and Brian will out debate everyone with their ideas and experience.
Watcher August 14, 2012 at 04:18 PM
Oh man! Remind you the Indy canceled it? So it's canceled. Debate amongst yourselves . Have a pow wow
Marcia August 14, 2012 at 05:31 PM
Clearly, Moorestown disagrees with you on Brian... You know, since he lost big just 2 years ago...
Marcia August 14, 2012 at 05:33 PM
I agree. Greg is great as a person but he can't hold elected office
Freddie August 14, 2012 at 06:10 PM
How's that working out? Brian would have been a much better councilman Brian will destroy the other candidates in the debates
Greg Newcomer August 14, 2012 at 06:35 PM
Interesting comments. I wrote this article and letter because I don't believe many people understand the assets of the REC building and it's value to the community. I have been working on parts of the building with other town folks since 1996. I wanted to make sure the bond was reintroduced and passed as the building repairs have not been acted upon for several months. The building is historically very interesting- one of the reasons it is so sturdy is the designers and builders wanted it to protect their children and tried to make it bomb proof. Brian and Mark and I respect and value our differences and range of experience. I didn't ask them before I sent this article as we are all independant thinkers. One of the assets of the building is the elevator. It stops at the ground floor and all 3 floors above which makes this an accesability asset for the building. No current problems are reported by staff or anyone using the elevator. Regarding the Kids program reccomended by RAC committee, the Town Manger recently reccomended bonding this and so would I . I also reccomend not using OS money to do this as the OS committee reccomended. I respect and value our committees. The kinds of programs which this building has supported over the years don't have a specific voice in the community to advocate on their behalf. Thanks for your comments.
Watcher August 14, 2012 at 06:55 PM
So the dems don't have a team just happens to have 3 candidates running on different issues? At least the republicans and Indy team as mentioned have it together? What does the dems campaign manager or Bobby think of that move? Is there unilateral decisions being made with the democrat candidates here? Seems like your campaign has some team issues?
Confusion August 14, 2012 at 07:23 PM
Greg, I defended you above but now I am confused again. you say you resepct and value our committees but you have opted to "respect and value" the osac but not the rac right? please clarify why you pick osac over rac. and you mention that the "kinds of programs" that use the rec center dont have voices. What programs are you referring to?
Ed Nice August 14, 2012 at 07:37 PM
Greg I am confused a little too.....in the minutes last year it says you are opposed to the bond for KIDS. Some of them....I copied the list....are against everything but what they want but why were you against it then and now its OK? The following is a list of the numerous residents who spoke against approving this bond ordinance: Monique Begg, 209 Parry Drive Edwin Begg, 209 Parry Drive Paul Conroe Coach Little, 137 West Main Street Fred Sutherland, 417 North Church Street Kathy Sutherland, 417 North Church Street Greg Newcomer, 235 Fellowship Road Richard Nelson Kay Smith, 15 Stokes Terrace Linda Carskadon, 127 Somers Court South Theresa Lawler, Linden Street Betsy Schnoor, 435 East Main Street Elaine Young, 412 Oldershaw Avenue
Mark Hines August 14, 2012 at 08:17 PM
I agree fully with Greg, although he wrote this letter as a citizen first, not as a candidate. Rob is the person who put the reference to Greg's role as a candidate. No one can challenge Greg's ability to get things accomplished in Moorestown, and he has done it for 20+ years in a respectful, productive manner. His knowledge on Moorestown recreation facilities is unparalleled. So I suggest putting an end to the ridiculous, anonymous comments, and start making productive solutions, as Greg has done. We all owe it to ourselves and our community to get past the mud-slinging and start offering solutions. In regards to debates, Greg, Brian and I will show up. It's up to the other candidates if they choose to do so. I am confident that they will give it serious consideration, and such issues can be discussed and debated in a moderated format.
Watcher August 14, 2012 at 08:23 PM
Ok time for you to have your pow wow , I wonder of anyone will show up to that
Ed Nice August 14, 2012 at 08:44 PM
Mark its interesting you want to get past the mudslinging since you are a huge part of it with MSOS and STEM with the lies. Now that the Judge has ruled recreation does include fields when you said it didn't “This court disagrees with STEM’s argument that the definition of recreation and conservation clearly does not include or contemplate artificial turf fields or the type of athletic activities which would occur on artificial turf fields,” he wrote. STEM also argued the state statute only promotes activities having a “natural origin,” i.e. not artificial turf. However, Bookbinder ruled this argument was “undermined” by the fact that language in the statute permits “public indoor recreation,” such as swimming pools and basketball courts. Bookbinder also pointed to the phrase “or similar uses” included in the state statute’s definition of recreation and conservation to suggest “the Legislature appears to promote recreational and/or conservation activities which may not have been explicitly identified.” When can we expect your apology to the town and admit you were wrong?
Rob Scott (Editor) August 14, 2012 at 08:51 PM
Ed, Just as a point of clarification, what Judge Bookbinder wrote in his decision pertained directly to STEM's request for an injunction, not to the overall case. You're certainly free to infer from his decision on the injunction how he may rule on the overall suit—although if the judge was as certain of his position as you are, he would've thrown out the case right there—but I just wanted to make sure it's clear he has not rendered a final decision on the case.
Bill August 14, 2012 at 09:17 PM
Rob, with all due respect. If those were STEMS only arguments the judge would have thrown the case out as Ed is correct in what he states. The judge basically told STEM their argument on the above mentioned points are invalid. What he needs to decided now is the last point of contention. Does the term "and such lands" infer that money can only be spent on lands (be it historic, open, farm, or recreation) that were originally purchased with open space funds. If STEM wins it sure will be fun listening to Mark Hines and friends explain to residents how they plan to replenish all the money used illegally since the ordinance was passed. Then again, it's probably just a few million. I think one person in town called that amount a drop in the bucket.
Ed Nice August 14, 2012 at 09:32 PM
Come on Rob are you trying to clarify what the judge wrote or side with Mark Hines? LOL! the judge said "This court disagrees with STEM’s argument that the definition of recreation and conservation clearly does not include or contemplate artificial turf fields or the type of athletic activities which would occur on artificial turf fields,” he wrote. Which is it he agrees or disagrees with STEM? You were there a few meetings ago when Hines got all righteous about the legal uses and definition of recreation with council? The judge is saying he is flat out wrong and now he needs to admit it. Its not that hard.
Rob Scott (Editor) August 14, 2012 at 09:44 PM
Ed, I'm only trying to clarify, not taking sides. I just wanted to make sure people don't get the impression the case is settled. That's all. And on a personal note, LOL? C'mon man.
Rob Scott (Editor) August 14, 2012 at 09:46 PM
Kidding, by the way. Abbreviate to your heart's delight.
Ed Nice August 14, 2012 at 09:51 PM
Better to try and laugh about what goes on in this town then to cry about it!
Tom August 14, 2012 at 10:13 PM
I happen to agree with you on this topic. So much has been written/posted and said about the legality of this. The judge's ruling has provided us with finality. Mr. Hines, Mr. Newcomer and STEM have obviously taken a position contrary to the verdict. That is very troubling.
Freddie August 14, 2012 at 10:19 PM
Mark, Greg and Brian the debates are a good idea. The other candidates are afraid a debate will show the voters that your experiences are more valuable than theirs. Even Romney/Ryan are willing to debate just like the BOE candidates.
Watcher August 15, 2012 at 02:18 AM
Well it ain't looking to happen with them debates. Remember that Indy candidates. So it's a dead issue. Tell me when the last time there was a towncouncil cand debate Freddie ? I've heard it's been years, a decade? Not much not too productive, what do you have a gotcha ready? Spill the beans now then?
Spell Check August 15, 2012 at 01:28 PM
*Recommend
kristen babcock August 22, 2012 at 02:45 PM
Good Lord, I just wasted 20 minutes of my life reading some of the most nauseating comments from the people who claim this letter was a political move by Greg, when really their comments (the majority of them anonymous) were the ones appearing to be politically motivated. I'm pretty sure most sensible adults are able to see right through it. Thank you Greg for your letter, I found it very informative and I'm sure there are many others who feel the same.

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