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Moorestown Moves Ahead with Athletic Field Improvements

Town manager Scott Carew says the $4 million project could be partially paid for using business sponsorships and naming rights.

Township council gave town manager Scott Carew its blessing Monday to seek bids for improvements to three township athletic fields.

The project, otherwise known as the K.I.D.S. Initiative, includes upgrades to (new turf field, parking improvements), Wesley Bishop South (irrigation and refurbishment of the grass field, fencing), and (drainage improvements, new lights).

The township has estimated it will cost around $4 million to do all three fields, including interest.

Carew described the project as an “investment” for the township.

“I do think the fields are a benefit beyond the direct user,” he said. “It is a very important amenity that young families looking to move to the area, it’s right near the top of the list. Our fields do not stand up well to the surrounding towns. They just don’t.”

The township’s plans to use money from the Open Space Trust Fund (OSTF) to pay for the field improvements among a large contingent of residents who argued the funds should only be used for acquiring and maintaining open space for conservation, based on their interpretation of the interpretive statement for the 2007 Open Space referendum.

Township officials saw otherwise.

Carew has proposed a potential compromise: The creation of a “recreation trust account,” funded through business sponsorships and naming rights, that could be used to (at least partially) pay for the improvement projects, as well as ongoing field maintenance.

“The project will be bonded,” he explained. “How that’s paid down, we’ll have options. We’ll evaluate every year how best to serve that debt.”

Carew said it’s possible, depending on how well this proposed recreation trust account does, there could be years where the township doesn’t have to use any OSTF money to pay down the debt on the field projects. The various athletic clubs in town would help manage the trust account.

“I’m pretty sure I have unanimous support among the sports groups,” said Carew, though creating the framework for the trust account is still in the preliminary stages, he added, and there’s no way yet to tell how much it would raise.

The township collects approximately $464,000 each year through the Open Space tax levy of 1¢ per $1,000 of assessed value. There’s presently about $1.6 million in the OSTF. Carew said the current incarnation of the Open Space tax lasts until 2028. The anticipated revenue from the tax over the next 17 years is roughly $13 million, according to Carew, with about $11 million in anticipated spending, which includes funding the entire K.I.D.S. project from the OSTF.

However, the $11 million in estimated expenditures does not include any new open space acquisition, nor does it take into account the potential devaluation of the township’s total ratable base if it goes through with a reassessment, which .

Mark Hines, co-founder of Moorestown Save Open Space (MSOS), a group advocating the use of Open Space funds solely for open space acquisition and maintenance, accurately pointed out if the value of the ratable base drops, so does the amount of money collected through the Open Space tax.

Carew acknowledged, in order for the township to continue collecting the same amount of revenue, the Open Space tax would need to be raised if property values drop (a near certainty given the market).

Some members of the audience also questioned the wisdom of installing artificial turf at Wesley Bishop North, since it would possibly need to be replaced in another 10 to 15 years.

James Ruddiman, an associate with Alaimo, the project engineers, said the typical lifespan of a turf field is up to 12 years. But with proper maintenance and somewhat limited use it could last for several more, he added.

Carew said the three fields will be bid out as separate projects.

Homey the Clown December 16, 2011 at 02:59 PM
actually point is whether its 12 or 13 million, its a boatload of our tax dollars on top of what has already been spent...in this econcomy and in a town that has major issues (have you been on main st or at the mall)....we need more businesses and taxpayers.... buying homes for sale and bulldozing them isn't open space....its time to spread the wealth.....any good ol boys disagree?
Secret Santa December 19, 2011 at 04:48 AM
Hey now "homey", "clown" and grapevine" , I'm getting close to open my stash of coal. We may need to consult "a lawyer" for your strategy. What primary? Do you know all three gallo, button, testa are all running? Is one not running? Clear the air, or wait .. You are a dem? If so, you'd root on gbt in the general over any dems? As for what is understood the three are running again, so I'm guessing no primary, and guessing that you are starting unsubstantiated rumors . Or maybe you want ye three to announce something? Or should there be placeholders, maybe you may be familiar with? Now, let me not start looking for that coal.
Homey the Clown December 19, 2011 at 01:01 PM
riddle me this secret santa....don't you have some elf friends who can tell you who is running?
Secret Santa December 19, 2011 at 01:50 PM
Oh man mr "homey clown" perhaps them glasses should be checked.? You are guessing right, I believe, there is a secret with what you asked. What game do you suggest should happen? Oh those little elves? Ha, is that anoter little secret? Do you know what your talking about? I'm impressed how obsessed you are with the republican candidates. Why is that? Is this little elf up to something? As of right now, GBT are running for reelection so that's all you need to be concerned about, eh? As I said, I'm headed back to look for that stash of coal because I may need to distribute. Hohoho!
Secret Santa December 19, 2011 at 05:31 PM
There was a rumor swirling that the apparent future moorestown liquor board rep is thinking of a exotic liquor establishment coming soon, perhaps "Harley davidson Cafe". And there it is his own thought of a "biker bar". Any other wild thoughts ?

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