SAYREVILLE – School and borough officials in Sayreville are pursuing potential locations for a proposed bus depot after public objection to placing the complex on a baseball field dedicated to a resident killed in the Vietnam War.
Since January, residents have protested against the bus depot being built at a baseball and softball complex on Woodland Avenue. The complex, located in the Morgan section of the borough, is maintained by the Sayreville Athletic Association.
In response to the protests, members of the Borough Council passed a resolution on Jan. 24 authorizing engineering firm CME Associates to provide the Sayreville School District Board of Education with a list of alternative properties that could be utilized as the bus depot.
Superintendent of Schools Richard Labbe stated on Feb. 1 that approximately 500 potential properties were identified. CME Associates is currently determining which properties might have the necessary square footage for the bus depot’s construction.
“We’re hoping by the end of this week, those locations, along with maps, will be identified,” Labbe said.
The objections derive from a resolution passed by board members on Dec. 21, their final meeting in 2021. The resolution approved Spiezle Architectural Group, Inc. to receive $339,800 for services related to the construction of the transportation complex at Jesse Selover School, where the athletic fields are located.
District administrators emphasized that the resolution was for a preliminary design of the bus depot, not physical construction. The depot is intended to address a growing student population by increasing the number of buses; in August 2021, the board approved the $1.65 million lease purchase of 17 new buses.
Nevertheless, the board’s Jan. 18 meeting was attended by several residents who voiced opposition to building the transportation complex on the fields. The residents cited a loss of physical activity for children, negative impacts on their way of life and safety concerns. They stated that the Morgan section lacked sidewalks and was not a suitable location for additional bus traffic.
Of particular contention was one of the fields being dedicated to PFC Wayne “Butch” Grant, a Sayreville resident who was killed during the Vietnam War in 1967. Grant’s brother Charlie was among the residents who spoke against potentially removing the memorial, which was installed in 2016.
“[My brother] was killed with multiple combat and shotgun wounds throughout his body,” Charlie Grant said. “This is what our field represents to myself, my family and Morgan. Please do not dishonor his name.”
On Jan. 23, members of the public held a ruck at the field to show their support for Butch Grant.
Following the Jan. 18 meeting, the Borough Council approved CME Associates’ involvement in finding a new location for the transportation complex.
Mayor Victoria Kilpatrick shared the public’s opposition to having the transportation complex on the baseball and softball fields at the Jan. 24 meeting.
“This Borough Council is doing whatever we can in order to help support and be there for Wayne’s family and to be there for the residents of Morgan, but also for the rest of the community because we want to make sure that this decision the Board of Education has to make will hopefully be made in the best interest of all our residents,” Kilpatrick said.
Resident Jim Robinson, a former Planning Board chairman, also noted during the council meeting that the transportation complex would need to be heard and approved by the Planning Board before construction could begin.
At the Feb. 1 meeting, Labbe said representatives of CME Associates would initially share their findings with the borough. The borough would either convene with the council or share the information with the district to determine if any alternate locations are viable for the bus depot.
Residents at the Feb. 1 meeting voiced further objection to the board’s resolution remaining in effect. They requested that board members rescind the resolution.
After the board went into executive (closed) session, the members passed a new resolution that removed mention of the Jesse Selover School, stating that Spiezle was approved to work on a transportation complex at a yet-to-be-named location.