Outside Sport Groups Looking To Use Middlebush Park

Recreation Advisory Council Not Keen On Renting Park Out Yet

Recreation Council 12-10-142

Township recreation director Alice Osipowitz said that outside sporting groups have inquired about using Middlebush Park.

News that several outside groups have approached the Recreation Department with requests to rent Middlebush Park was not greeted with enthusiasm by the Advisory Recreation Council.

Township recreation director Alice Osipowitz told council members at their Dec. 10 meeting that the department has received requests from a variety of groups, including a “semi-professional football team and an independent AAU soccer team” to use the field during the times it’s not being used by the township’s soccer or Pop Warner football programs.

Osipowitz noted that there could be some problems with some uses – the potential to annoy residential neighbors being one of them – and that she would have to discuss the idea with township manager Bob Vornlocker.

She said that some groups would probably want to use the fields later than the 9:15 p.m. restriction on its lights.

Also, Osipowitz said, the semi-pro football team’s use may be too much for the new fields.

Still, she said, there “may be some opportunities in the off-season to do something else.”

She said that Rutgers Preparatory School and St. Matthias church have also inquired about using the fields.

Osipowitz said the Township Council would have to ultimately decide if it wants to “intensify” the use of the park.

“I’m not saying we have to open it,” she said.

The Pop Warner program’s desire to install speakers in Middlebush Park was the subject of sometimes bitter debate between area residents and program representatives over the past year. A compromise was eventually reached, and Keith Stewart, council chairman and a Pop Warner official, said he was not ready to test that detente.

“I think we’ve built a pretty good rapport with the residents,” he said.

Osipowitz said a use that might be allowed is for summer soccer camps that would be run during the day.

“During the day hours it wouldn’t interfere with residents and it’s a money maker,” council member John Moon said. “I say, why not?”

Council member Nancy Sayre said she’d like the fields to be used for a full season or more by soccer and football “so residents can see that you’re not the ogres they think you are” before there’s any thought of renting the fields to outside groups.

“Let our clubs go through a season, season-and-a-half, and the residents get their hackles down,” she said.

Council member Bill Gallagher, co-president of the township soccer club, said he thought the fields may not be ready yet for continued use. He said a promised berm between the fields and residents has not yet been installed, and the field’s concession stand is not yet built.

Township Councilman Carl R.A. Wright (D-Ward 4), the council liaison, has long been a proponent of renting Middlebush Park to outside groups, and his opinion did not change at the meeting.

“If you can make money, make the money,” he said.

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