Several township sports clubs have come together to commit a little more than $1 million to the athletic fields improvement project.
Mayor John Button said the township has until the end of next week—60 days from receiving the bids—to decide on the remaining projects. A special meeting had been scheduled for this past Monday, but was called off to give the clubs more time to firm up their funding commitments.
“I didn’t feel we would have complete enough information (to have the meeting this past Monday),” said Button.
According to information provided by Kevin Loftus, member of the Open Space Committee and , the combined private funding commitments from the township youth sports clubs to date comes to roughly $1.1 million—a little less than half of the total project cost (minus interest, which brings the cost to $2.6 million).
Those commitments are primarily a combination of annual contributions and sponsorships, as well as in-kind gifts and one-time cash contributions. The following is a partial list of the club commitments:
- Moorestown Youth Baseball Federation (MYBF): Annual contribution — $15,000/year for 15 years; sponsorships — $72,500
- Moorestown Lacrosse Club: Annual contribution — $10,000/year for 15 years; sponsorships — $45,000/year for 10 years
- Moorestown Youth Football Association: Annual contribution — $10,000/year for 15 years; sponsorships — amount not yet committed
MYBF president Bob McCarthy and lacrosse club president Kelly Dalmass noted they’ve only been pursuing sponsorships for the last few weeks and expect to get more. McCarthy said the presidents of all the sports clubs are actively working with Councilwoman Stacey Jordan and parks and recreation director Theresa Miller, as well as Taylor Design Group, .
to improve , which is used primarily by youth baseball. McCarthy said once it’s all said and done he believes the club can secure enough private funding to cover the “lion’s share” of the project cost ($380,000, interest not included).
“We are very near and probably will be at dollar-for-dollar, which would not impact the taxpayer one cent,” McCarthy said regarding the Pryor Park project.
However, improvements to —which have yet to be approved by council—will likely have to be paid for with some public money, whether through bonding, from the Open Space, Recreation, Farmland and Historic Preservation Trust Fund (also known as the Open Space Trust Fund), or a combination of the two.
Councilman Chris Chiacchio, along with Councilwoman Stacey Jordan— who attended last week’s special meeting—would prefer not to use a single public dollar (particularly from the trust fund) to pay for the project.
“The K.I.D.S. Task Force could have raised all the money,” Chiacchio said. “At this point, we have to identify things that need to be done … You have to have priorities.”
The councilman said he doesn’t particularly see the point in holding more special meetings on the subject because the members of council have all already made clear their positions on the issue.
“There’s no new information that would warrant me reconsidering my position,” said Chiacchio, who believes holding more meetings on this already contentious issue will “further divide the township … and it’s a shame. It’s just one issue.”
Button said if council were to move forward on all the field improvement projects, they wouldn’t have to make a decision about whether to use money from the trust fund until next year because all that’d have to be paid this year would be an initial down payment of about $140,000.
Though the mayor conceded it could be possible to get an extension beyond the end of next week to make a decision, he doesn't want it to come to that.
"We need to move forward and make this decision and move on,” Button said, adding he hopes council can come to a resolution at Monday's meeting.