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Letter: What’s Really Wrong With The Upcoming Westfield School Bond Referendum on September 24th?

Westfield resident says "By voting NO, you will be telling the BOE to show courage and come back to us in April or September 2013 with separate bond referendums."

I think we are all missing the point with regard to the upcoming September 24th Westfield bond referendum vote. 

It’s not really whether we should or should not have a lit field or a turf field, or both. It’s not really about whether we need to have all of our school roofs simultaneously repaired – and whether the “repairs” are to ensure a safe roof above our child’s head or so it can support solar panels. 

No, it’s really about whether the taxpaying residents of this town want to allow the board of education (BOE) to set a new precedent. That precedent would be to allow a “nice to have” to be bundled together with a supposed “need to have.” 

I have been reading the letters to the editor, attending meetings, monitoring blogs and talking to fellow Westfielders about this issue for the past 100 days; and it seems that people are lining up on one of two sides: for the lit turf field or against it. However, I think it is more than that.  

I would like us all to pause just for a second and take a brief step back and ask ourselves the following question:  Do we think it is appropriate for the BOE to combine these two particular items into one referendum?  Does that run against our better instincts? We seem to be a fiscallyconservative town, but we have a soft spot (rightfully so) for anything related to our kids and their education. 

Is the BOE preying on that soft spot by lumping what we must acknowledge is a nice to have (lit turf field) with a possible need to have (roof repair)? Did the BOE know that there would be resistance to a lit turf field (on the basis of long-term fiscal, logistical, environmental, and homevalue depreciation concerns), so they added the roof project? The thought being, ‘If parents think a roof is about to collapse on Johnny’s head then they won’t fight grass being turned to turf and almost ten 80-foot lights being installed into the heart of the South Side.’ Something to think about.  

For those of you who are vehemently against a lit turf field (whether it’s because you feel we have appropriate athletic facilities for our children or because your home’s value will be negatively impacted) your mind is made up and you will Vote No on September 24th. For those of you who are learning about this for the first time or are on the fence about how you will vote, I want you to know that you will not be doing your children or your town a disservice by voting No. What you will be doing is sending a message to the board of education that we (the tax-paying constituents) don’t agree to pork barreling. We don’t tolerate it with whom we elect and send to Trenton or Washington D.C., so why accept it locally?  Especially when current and future residents will be footing the bill for decades to come!

By voting NO, you will be telling the BOE to show courage and come back to us in April or September 2013 with separate bond referendums (one dealing with roof repairs and perhaps one asking for financing for enhancements or improvement to the field behind the high school). You will be telling the BOE that in these choppy economic times we need to be fully educated and better sold on why we need to go further in debt as a town to pay for these separate items.  Don’t you think we deserve that?

By voting Yes on September 24th, you will be sending the message that we the people are nothing but rubber stamps when it comes to our local elected officials putting us further in debt – without fully explaining why.   

By voting No on September 24th, you will be asking the BOE to make a better case in 2013 for why these two separate projects need to be funded. 

Bruce Marro

Westfield

Whitney Higgenbottom September 24, 2012 at 05:19 PM
Mr. Marro- You make excellent points and most of your letter is very well thought out. My problem with it is why punish the 6600 kids over a stupid BOE move to have one bond- Even the 3 people that voted to have separate bonds seem to be in favor of this getting done now (See Mr. Freemans excellent letter as well) Don't punish the whole community because you are mad at the Board of Ed- get all the facts and then vote on what makes sense for Westfield Schools and Westfield. Kind of silly to just vote no because you don't like the process.....Kind of reminds me of what republicans have done to Obama for 4 years-especially that idiot Boehner saying I will not compromise until Obama is out of office.... Sorry, I digress.......Good letter sir- All I am saying is GIVE BOND A CHANCE......
Time For Change September 24, 2012 at 07:04 PM
Mr. Marro, good letter but I think that you over-look one very important point. Whether you voted for the BOE members or not, by virtue of their positions, they have been given the authority to manage a budget of $92 million dollars WITHOUT coming back to you to approve every expenditure that needs to be made. Bonds are a different story in that they come up with the ideas and then let the community vote. If they believe that these two projects need to get done, then that's why they are representing us. If you don't like the way they handle the job they have been voted in to take on, then you can vote them out of office. Perhaps you will even jump on the Board some day. And right or wrong, but we don't have line item vetoes in other governmental authorities so why the need for it here?
Walkin Westfield September 24, 2012 at 07:15 PM
people say free will is being able to choose without external pressure or coercion
Charlie Bowman - Archer Digital Photography September 24, 2012 at 08:08 PM
OK, I was a little confused by this letter, but I just returned from voting and cleared things up. I read the question twice, just to make sure, and apparently Mr. Marro is wrong. The vote actually IS about whether we should or should not have a lit turf field. It also IS really about whether we need to have all of our school roofs simultaneously repaired. Just to be safe, I read it a third time and did not see anything about whether the taxpaying residents of this town want to allow the board of education (BOE) to set a new precedent. Definitely no mention of that. If you think we need new roofs and a new field with expanded uses (in terms of playing times and variety of sports) vote YES. If you don't agree with all the information that the BOE has posted about these items, then vote no. That is what your vote is for/against.
Walkin Westfield September 24, 2012 at 08:19 PM
what variety of sports, no skate park no HS swimming pool. The BOE is resurfacing an existing field to the tune of over $6 million over twenty years. (includes interest and replacing the field twice.) Keep Westfield Green, Vote NO
Charlie Bowman - Archer Digital Photography September 24, 2012 at 08:27 PM
Dear Sir/Madam, I urge you to read the information that the BOE has worked very hard in putting together. http://www.westfieldnjk12.org/education/dept/dept.php?sectiondetailid=32277& The possible ADDITIONAL sports on a resurfaced field, as compared to how that field is currently used includes: WHS girls/boys soccer at all levels, all levels of field hockey (not just 9th grade), WHS Lacrosse (all levels), PAL, GSLW, WBL and Rugby.

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