Middlebush Park Speakers Controversy Set To Erupt Again

The controversy over a sound system in Middlebush Park will likely erupt again at the Oct. 14 Township Council meeting, as a large contingent of Pop Warner families are expected to attend to oppose an ordinance banning speakers in the park.

The council on Sept. 22 passed a resolution banning any type of sound system in the park, which is heavily used by the township’s Pop Warner football program and the soccer program.

Resolutions expire at the end of the year in which they were passed. To make the ban permanent, the council must amend the ordinance containing the park’s regulations.

An ordinance scheduled for introduction at the Oct. 14 meeting would prohibit “(t)he operation of a permanent or portable public address system/loud speakers” in the park.

The sound system was opposed for months by Middlebush area residents, who said the noise amplified by the speakers would ruin their quality of life.

Supporters of the speakers – mainly Pop Warner families – said the speakers would add to the quality of the program and would entice other organizations to rent the park, a source of revenue for the township.

Pop Warner supporters attended only one meeting, in May, to support the proposal for speakers first introduced by Councilman Carl R. A. Wright (D-Ward 4). Opponents have been at every council meeting since and several advisory committee meetings as well.

That will change at the Oct. 14 meeting, according to Pop Warner president Stanley Croughter.

“The message is simple,” Croughter wrote in an email. “Pop Warner represents all wards, not just the 4th ward which it seems the council believes.”

“We feel this decision was only in the interest of the 61 residents that surround the park, and not indicative of the 65,000 residents of this township,” he wrote. “It also seems, such activities are only acceptable in the 4th ward, as the council looks to discuss improvements of the middle school field so that can be Pop Warner’s home.”

“The ‘not in my backyard’ mindset resonates from specific areas, as there are no filters for the homes next to the middle school field, but that is never a topic of discussion,” Croughter wrote.  “In short, we want to make all aware that Pop Warner is represented by all wards in the township and this decision is unacceptable at best.”

The council meets at 7 p.m. in its chambers in the municipal building on DeMott Lane.

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