Holmdel officials ask for feedback on possible improvements at Phillips Park

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HOLMDEL – Members of the Holmdel Township Committee are requesting input from residents regarding a concept plan to create a multi-sport synthetic turf athletic field and to update an existing field at Phillips Park.

During a committee meeting on Sept. 25, a concept plan proposing updates to Phillips Park, which is located at 110 Telegraph Hill Road, was presented by a representative of Maser Consulting, an engineering and design firm.

Mayor Tom Critelli said officials hired the firm to survey Holmdel’s parks and to assess where updates could be made to better accommodate individuals who play sports in town.

The concept plan for Phillips Park proposes upgrades to an existing baseball field, the construction of a multi-sport synthetic turf athletic field, the relocation of existing basketball courts and the creation of 50 new parking spaces.

The synthetic turf field would be 360 feet by 210 feet and would be able to accommodate football, field hockey, lacrosse, softball and baseball. A turf baseball diamond would be situated in the corner of the rectangular field, according to the presentation.

The synthetic turf field would have Musco light-emitting diode (LED) lighting and a walking path around its perimeter. The concept plan shows a second proposed turf baseball field in another area of the property.

At present, Philips Park has 44 parking spaces. According to the plan, 20 on-street parallel parking spaces and 30 spaces in a separate proposed parking lot would be added.

“This committee recommended Maser Consulting to do a review of our parks and recreation fields,” Critelli said. “This is the first report we are getting from Maser … This Philips Park improvement plan is a concept plan. I am releasing it to the public and asking for input from all of the user groups.

“This is not our wish list. This is what we have heard from the public user groups over the last several years. This is an opportunity to improve our fields … We ask the user groups to regroup after tonight’s meeting and give us some feedback about what you like and what you don’t like,” Critelli said.

During the presentation, James Priolo, principal, public services, for Maser Consulting, said, “We were asked to look at various sites throughout the town to see if those sites could accommodate certain recreation improvements. We did that. The one site that appeared to be a good fit for what (the committee) is trying to accomplish is Phillips Park.”

Members of the governing body did not have questions for the consulting firm, but did open the discussion to members of the public.

Lea Shave, who is running as an independent candidate for Township Committee, said, “It took four years to get $500,000 earmarked for a fire truck. How can you justify spending (money) when it took four years to get $500,000 when $500,00 doesn’t even cover the cost of a new truck … How can you justify this?” 

“The two issues are separate issues,” Critelli said.

Barbara Singer, a Democrat running for a seat on the Township Committee, said, “This (concept plan) got done awfully quickly. We’ve been having a fire issue for a long time.”

Some residents who spoke took issue with the potential cost of work at the park, who would be permitted to use the athletic fields and the impact the project could have on taxpayers.

No estimates related to the cost of the improvements or the impact on taxes was presented. Officials said Holmdel’s fields can be rented by outside groups.

In other business during public comment, several residents asked about pending litigation having to do with affordable housing. They asked why details pertaining to the matter were not available or could not be discussed in open session.

In response, Committeeman Rocco Pascucci said, “I don’t want to hide anything from you … This Township Committee doesn’t want to do this … When this gets settled soon, then it will be made public and everyone can have their comment. We can’t say anything, we are in litigation. We are trying to do the best for the town to limit the impact on our town. We are fully aware of the school impact, the police impact, the taxes. We are doing the best we can.”

Officials have previously said there is one lawsuit pertaining to affordable housing that has been brought to the governing body’s attention, at present. Officials said they could not disclose details of the pending litigation, but did say multiple parties are involved in the situation and that they are addressing the matter.

Finally, Critelli said residents who are planning to attend Harvest Fest on Oct. 6 may obtain a parking permit from the recreation center prior to the festival. Residents who obtain a parking permit will not have to pay a fee to park their vehicles at the festival. The recreation center is at 4 Crawfords Corner Road.