Sherman: Speaker System ‘Not Necessary’ At Middlebush Park

Councilwoman Sherman says park’s named should be changed to “Sports Complex"


Gauguin Way resident Yazmin Casdtro told the Township Council that speakers in Middlebush Park will adversely affect the value of surrounding homes.

Township Councilwoman Roz Sherman (D-Ward 2) has entered the fray over whether a permanent sound system should be installed at the Middlebush Park football fields.

“Yes, we needed the fields, yes, we were very happy to have the fields,” she said at the May 27 Township Council meeting. “Speakers are not necessary.”

The park, off DeMott Lane, affects residents of Sherman’s ward, as well as those who live in Councilman Phil Kramer’s Ward 3.

Sherman’s comments came after a number of area residents for the second consecutive meeting took to the microphone to tell the council that a sound system at the park will affect their enjoyment of their property.

The issue came to a head at the May 13 council meeting, when a potential contractor invited by Councilman Carl R.A. Wright (D-Ward 4) described what a sound system at the park could look like.

Sherman said she was prompted to speak after she visited the park on Memorial Day and saw that many homes bordering the property were completely exposed to the playing fields. She said the promised trees and berms were not delivered.

“I was very distressed when I saw the park,” she said. “Some homes are totally exposed. We need to rethink what we have done here.”

Sherman said that a speaker system was not in the original plans for the park.

“We need to change the sign,” she said, referring to the park’s entrance sign. “This is not a park. This is a sports complex.”

The speakers would be primarily used for games played by the township’s Pop Warner football league.

But, Sherman, said, Pop Warner does;t need that field for speakers.

“Pop Warner has a fully functional field at the Middle School,” she said. “They don’t need to come to the Middlebush Sports Complex, they want to.”

Sherman said that if speakers are allowed at Middlebush, that will set a precedent for all future parks in the township.

Wright said that the speaker system would not just be for the one group, but for “the entire township.”

He said he and township officials were going to visit East Brunswick High School to see their sound system setup.

Wright said that every would possible would be done to minimize the noise from the speakers heard by area resents.

“But I’m not going to lie and tell you you won’t hear anything,” he said.

Kramer told the residents in the audience that he would “work my hardest” to ensure that any sound system installed in the park would not affect them.

“I can’t promise that, because I am but one of nine,” he said. “But that is what I will be working toward.”

The council’s comments were in response to the please made by area residents earlier in the meeting.

Mayank Patel of Charles Street told the council that the park “is in my back yard.”

“I’m a nice neighbor,” he said. “I want Franklin Township to be a nice neighbor, too. Don’t put speakers in my backyard.”

“If you guys are going to go ahead with this, then you should help me pay for soundproof windows,” he said.

Another Charles Street resident, Bill Terhune, said the speaker system “is not a need. To me it’s more for the parents sitting in the stands. To me, that’s a luxury.”

The park’s stadium lights also came under attack.

Saleem Malkana of Gauguin Way, a 13-year resident, said he is “blinded” by the lights when he takes his evening walks.

Turning his attention to the sound system, Malkana said the speakers would simply amplify the noise they already hear from the games.

“This is not why we sought out Franklin Township,” he said.

Gina Ulrich of Wilson Road told the council she and her family bought their home two years ago “to leave the city behind us.”

“On Saturdays and Sundays, we love to sit in our back yard and the only sound we hear is the birds chirping,” she said. “That’s the main reason we moved here.”

“You have to ask yourself, what if it were you back yard,” she said.

Her husband, Brian Ulrich, said he used to live near J.P. Stevens High School in Edison,which has a sound system for its football field.

“I moved to get away from that,” he said.

Gauguin Way resident Yazmin Casdtro, who told the council that she is a Realtor, said that “20 percent of the homes on Charles Street are for sale. The turnover on Charles Street is amazing. No one wants to stay there.”

Castro said the value of the homes in the area will be impacted if speakers are allowed in the park.

Ina related action, the council introduced an ordinance revising the fee schedule for outside groups to use Middlebush and other township parks.

Under the ordinance, fees for synthetic field parks would be:

  • $100/2hr for residents, plus $25/2hrs for lights
  • $200/2hr for non-residents, plus $50/2hrs for lights
  • $50/2hr for resident non-profit, plus $25/2hrs for lights
  • $100/2hr for non-resident non-profit, plus $50/2hrs for lights
  • $200/hr Resident for profit, plus $50/2hrs for lights
  • $250/hr Non-resident for profit, plus $50/2hrs for lights

The fee for picnic areas would b $40 for four hours; for athletic fields, $30 for four hours; for basketball courts, $10 for four hours and for tennis courts for tournaments, $10 for four hours.

A public hearing on the ordinance is set for the council’s June 12 meeting.

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