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Middlebush Residents Press Their Case Against Middlebush Park Sound System

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Bryan Bidlack of Charles Street told the Township Council that the issue of installing a sound system in Middlebush Park is of concern to all Middlebush village residents.

The lobbying effort against installing a sound system at the Middlebush Park sports complex continued at the June 24 Township Council meeting, with a cadre of Middlebush residents once again showing up to press their case.

An announcement by township manager Robert Vornlocker that a noise expert from Rutgers University has been asked to provide the council and local residents with some instruction on the science of sound did nothing to assuage the residents’ concerns.

The expert, Eric Zwerling from Rutgers’ Noise Technical Assistance Center, will be asked to “educate the council and staff on the effects of sound, and also hopefully educating our audience as to what it means to limit sound to 65 decibels,” Vornlocker said.

The township’s noise ordinance limits the volume of sound discernible at a particular property line to 65 decibels.

“In the event we proceed on this (installing the sound system), they will also help up with that as well,” Vornlocker said. “We have no staff member who is qualified to make these judgments.”

Councilman Carl R.A. Wright (D-Ward 4) has been championing the idea of installing a sound system in the complex, mainly for the township’s Pop Warner league. Wright and supporters of the idea contend that the complex’s press box was constructed to accommodate a sound system, and that the speakers can be arranged to minimize and “sound spill” to neighboring homes.

Several of the residents who spoke at the June 24 meeting said they were not impressed by the idea of an expert coming to town, and none of them want the sound system.

Bryan Bidlack of Charles Street said residents who were there when the park was planned “anticipated a much more passive park,” not the sports complex the area has become.

“Our quality of life has suffered” since the park was opened,” he said. Putting amplification in the park is a “general Middlebush village concern.”

One by one, residents of streets surrounding the park told the council that amplified sound would make a difficult situation worse.

Michael Adams of Schilling Drive said he was concerned that the sound system “may negatively impact property values in the surrounding area.”

Lorraine Shanks of Magnolia Road said she was “disappointed” that the council is even contemplating a sound system in the park.

“We moved here five years ago from Scotch Plains, we thought it was beautiful” and quiet, she said.

“Why can’t I live here in peace? My property value demands that,” she said.

Regina Doyle of Winchester Way told the council that her two sons played Little League baseball and “they had no sound system and did very well.”

An opponent of the park from its ince[tion, Doyle said she did not “see any reason to put a park near an assisted living facility, a nursing home and all those residents.”

Tom Moran, president of the Hunter’s Crossing Homeowners’ Association, said the stadium lights in the park are “too much, and the sound system will become more too much.”

None of those in attendance addressed another concern of the residents, the clearing of a number of trees along the park’s perimeter with Charles Street and Gauguin Way.

Vornlocker told the council prior to the public session that he’d met with township engineer Tom Zilinek and gave him a June 30 deadline to come up with a plan for plantings and a fence to shield those residents’ views.

He said no decisions on that would be made until a meeting was held with the residents to get their input.

 

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