Teaneck Council OKs $4.2M to Upgrade 'Despicable' Fields

New artificial turf, drainage improvements planned at Votee Park.

The Teaneck Township Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a $4.2 million bond authorization to cover the costs of upgrades at two Votee Park soccer fields, including installing new artificial turf and improved drainage for the flood-plagued area. 

Some residents have questioned why the figure increased from early estimates, and worried the project would divert all of the town's Municipal Open Space Trust Fund money solely to the park, over other uses. 

Resident Howard Rose said he wanted more details on the project's cost. 

"I don't want this to be excessive," he said. 

A $2.5 million estimate came in 2007, according to Deputy Mayor Adam Gussen. That figure did not include remediation work that could be needed to deal with contaminated soil discovered in the park in 2011, a slew of proposed "wish list" items and necessary lighting at the fields. 

Council members agreed the field upgrades were needed. 

"The fields in Votee are despicable," Gussen said. "It's amazing that traveling teams send their kids to play on these fields." 

Councilman Henry Pruitt said the town needed to improve the fields, but thought the work could be done without spending the full $4 million. 

Officials have said the project would cost less than the $4.2 million set aside in the bond ordinance. 

According to the ordinance, the township plans to use $2.175 million from the Open Space Trust Fund. The state's Green Acres Program will provide $621,250, another $128,750 will come from a Green Acres loan and $184,708 from a county open space fund. 

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JamesTS February 20, 2013 at 04:22 PM
ENough of this...we need these fields very badly. Yes, Gussen is correct. The fields look like compete garbage. Can we stop pickering and being cheap and just give the town's kids something nice for once? this town is already looking very run down and shabby in most areas. We must fix the fields without delay!!
Alan Sohn February 20, 2013 at 07:28 PM
The soccer fields are run down and do need to be replaced, but the problem is that rest of Teaneck is looking very run down and shabby in most areas. That's exactly why we need to be as careful as possible in how we spend every penny, as we are going to need that money for other vital repairs in all the other neglected areas. Without providing a single number to support the projected cost of $4.2 million, the council gave itself carte blanche to spend every penny left in the Municipal Open Space Trust (MOST) fund, including every penny collected for the past 3 1/2 years. The council will still need to grab every penny of the $600,000 in 2013's MOST money and then will need to bond hundreds of thousands more at further taxpayer expense when the price is what is claimed. A responsible council would have come up with ballpark estimates of the cost based on the experience of other municipalities that have spent a fraction of the amount for their projects. If only we had a budget -- even a ballpark guesstimate -- that the public could review and consider, and that the council could analyze on a line-by-line basis. Instead we got no information whatsoever as to why we're spending $4.2 million, money that we know we will need for other purposes in the immediate future.
PM February 20, 2013 at 07:42 PM
This town is looking more and more like East Timor on a daily basis...with a council that is secretive and liberal with OUR dollars.
Keith Kaplan February 20, 2013 at 08:28 PM
Alan, as was stated at the meeting, the $4.2 million is an appropriation, not a contracted rate. In other words, they must allow that money to be appropriated before bids can be received. Is there a difference between what you are asking for and the Council getting bids and THEN comparing those bids to what other townships have paid for similar projects? If we are going to be comparing our projects to other towns, why not do so AFTER the bids come in, when we are in a better position to know if they should be accepted or rejected? If none of the bids are appropriate, we simply say no to them. Am I missing something?
Art Vatsky February 20, 2013 at 10:24 PM
Does anyone remember that Votee Park drainage was improved in the 1990s? It was. This is the second attempt. This has become a common situation: we pay for a repair and then we pay for a repair of the repair. No one knows the true cost of the Teaneck Police HQ. No elected official seems to be proud of the Cedar Lane Streetscape project that is still missing its bus shelters, healthy trees and clean sidewalks after 7 years. Let's get a good price with good protection against bad results on the Votee project. Then, with the savings, get the truck garage for our DPW. Why the garage investment has waited so long (14 years since Council approval) mystifies me. The budget for the two fields is more than $2 million each. That does seem kinda pricey, doesn't it? Can't the night lights and gensets wait for a future budget allocation. Oh yes, if the artificial turf backs up with water, who will pay for that repair? It better not be the Teaneck taxpayer.
zizi February 21, 2013 at 02:48 AM
Seems like town council and manager are making sure... that teaneck is gentrified..... raise the taxes to a level where only a certain group can stay in the town...
Alan Sohn February 21, 2013 at 04:04 AM
"Is there a difference between what you are asking for and the Council getting bids and THEN comparing those bids to what other townships have paid for similar projects? If we are going to be comparing our projects to other towns, why not do so AFTER the bids come in, when we are in a better position to know if they should be accepted or rejected?" Absolutely. If the project as designed ends up being a $6m project then this thing ain't happening, leaving thousands of children bitterly disappointed and the soccer establishment waiting years before a go ahead. If this is a $2m project, then we've needlessly encumbered MOST money that could have been used for other projects. The far bigger problem from a game theory / auction theory perspective is that this is a strongly asymmetric situation. The old poker joke is that if you don't know who the sucker is at the table then it's you, and we've set ourselves up to be fleeced. Bidders will readily find out how much we have to spend, while the Council has proudly done no homework whatsoever. Teaneck has a sorry reputation of mismanagement and overspending on projects, so why would any bidder who knows that we're ready to be taken bid much less than $4.2 million? My experience in bidding large projects is that bidders respect knowledgeable buyers, but will always find a way to screw the babes in the woods. Be prepared to pay nearly every penny of the budgeted $4.2 million, less a token cut of about 10% to save some face.
Bob Bryant, Jr. April 18, 2013 at 06:02 PM
Al - your comment smacks of overt racism. There are many groups that use the Votee Park soccer fields (Teaneck Jr. Soccer League; Teaneck Women's Soccer League; Teaneck Stingrays S.C.; Teaneck HS Varsity Boys/Girls Soccer teams; Teaneck Strikers Men's team). How do you justify picking on our West Indian neighbors who use Votee Park to play the world's most popular game? Some of these people you call "illegal aliens" are teachers, doctors, dentists, corporate NYC businessmen. They pay local & state taxes which help to repair & maintain the soccer fields AND baseball fields in our town so that our children and their parents have places to persue recreational activities. If you prefer baseball over soccer, that's fine. But don't denigrate the kids and adults who prefer soccer. By the way, the last time I looked, the majority of people who use the soccer fields are White!
Lisa Dee June 17, 2013 at 07:28 AM
Art, What you are saying the management of these previous projects were criminal in terms of quality of work for money spent. Maybe none of the people who worked in Town Hall at that time with any responsibilities (Town Engineer) should be employed before dollar one is spent.


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