Walk the Chalk
Join the Human Relations Advisory Commission tomorrow for another “Walk the Chalk” event at Jefferson School, just after dismissal at 3:05. This is a great family activity to help promote inclusion and diversity in the community. We appreciate the support of Principal Hung, as well as the Westfield Police Department, and look forward to seeing you there tomorrow.
With the arrival of October, AddamsFest is back and better than ever! This fifth annual celebration honoring our own Charles Addams has a great line up with something for everyone! You can find full details at addamsfest.com.
Westfield Optimist Club and WPD Halloween Festivities
Don’t miss the Halloween festivities for the whole family on Sunday, October 23 in Mindowaskin Park! The afternoon’s events kick off at noon with the Westfield Police Department’s second annual Cops and Goblins event, followed by the Westfield Optimist Club Halloween Parade at 2pm featuring the Westfield High School Marching Band. Note that the parade requires advance registration, limited to the first 500 children in Pre-K through grade 5.
Thanks to our Police Department and dedicated volunteers from the Optimist Club for bringing these events to the community!
Don’t miss the Westfield Historical Society’s 14th Annual AppleFest on Saturday, October 15, from 12:00 - 5:00 at The Reeve House. The event will feature live music, food, a student art contest, children’s games, pumpkin painting, and more. If you have a great recipe, the event is seeking more entries for the beloved apple pie contest, which I am fortunate enough to be judging! I look forward to seeing everyone there for a fun-filled afternoon. For more information, visit the Westfield Historical’s Society’s website.
United by Light
Thank you to the Westfield United Fund for launching Westfield United by Light, an event to shine a light on mental health. With the help of the community, WUF plans to light up Westfield on November 27 with candlelight luminaries lining the streets. Funds raised from the sale of candle kits will go to mental health programs at WUF agencies, including Caring Contact, Imagine, Jewish Family Service, Youth & Family Counseling, and YWCA Union County. For more information and to purchase a candle kit, visit westfieldunitedfund.org/unitedbylight.
CME REPORT ON EDISON FIELDS
Lastly, I’d like to hand it over to Councilman Katz, as liaison to the Recreation Commission to briefly address the results of the CME report that this council commissioned in order to obtain an independent assessment of the Edison Fields proposal.
Remarks by Councilman Katz:
Thank you Mayor. As you mentioned, the purpose of the CME report was to obtain an independent analysis of Edison Fields, following questions and concerns that were raised by residents. We received the final report in late September, at which time it was released to the public and can be found on our website.
The report is the result of five months of work and a very robust intake process, including discussions with the Recreation Commission, Board of Education members, Board of Education staff including the Athletic Director, sports leagues, and members of the local neighborhood group that has remained highly engaged on this project. We are grateful to everyone for their input to help make the outcome as comprehensive as possible.
For background, the scope of work CME was tasked with was a comprehensive review of the existing plan and the following evaluations:
- Assess and verify upfront costs, maintenance and upkeep costs over time, incremental capacity achieved, and other key assumptions used for both synthetic turf and natural grass options with and without lights.
- Calculate cost per playing hour for all options
- Provide pros/cons of options including comparison of incremental benefits of each solution relative to expense and capacity, such as reliability and expected maintenance downtime
- Make a recommendation on the best path forward for the Edison Fields project
I encourage everyone to read the report and its supporting details, where CME concluded that the cost of natural grass fields with lights is $213.75 per playable hour, and synthetic turf fields with lights is $96.11 per playable hour.
Following the release of the report, I had the opportunity, as Recreation Commission liaison, along with my fellow members of the Council’s Finance Policy Committee, to ask CME some questions about some of their findings and to ensure that their underlying assumptions were satisfactory.
There have been some concerns raised, including a few letters to the editor in the local press by residents, and I wanted to take this opportunity to provide the public with some reassurance about the findings of the report. In our meeting with CME, they provided additional context and backup for their analysis and assumptions, all based upon their professional experience in installing both grass and artificial turf fields around the state. Specifically, they further validated their assumptions around turf replacement timelines, turf replacement costs, and playable hours. While we were satisfied with their responses, we also ran our own analysis using various sensitivities to ensure that it was robust. As a result, quantitatively, the conclusion doesn't change: Artificial turf fields with lights will provide us, on a cost per playing hour basis, more efficiencies. Moreover, turf fields will offer us many qualitative benefits that must be noted – reliability of field availability (even with increasing weather severity), as well as an upgrade to school and Town amenities that can be utilized by a much broader range of athletic participants.
As it relates to the safety, parking and traffic, and environmental and flooding concerns, these points continue to be taken very seriously by this Council and, as you’ve heard from me, other Recreation Commission members, and other Town Council members, we’re committed to being good partners with the Board of Education, the neighbors near Edison, and the sports teams and leagues to address concerns about field scheduling, traffic/parking issues, and drainage. If we move forward with this project, these concerns would be addressed in design, NJDEP approval requirements, and bid specs so that we deliver fields that are safe, environmentally sensitive, and that mitigate the impact on the neighborhood.
We are continuing our conversations with the Board of Education regarding next steps and, as always, we will keep you apprised.
With that, let's get to work.