Township schedules hearings on two bond ordinances

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This is an updated story.

The Vernon Township Council has scheduled two July 22 public hearings on proposals to borrow up to $1.55 million for municipal improvements, including the controversial installation of artificial turf at the community park.

The proposals were originally bundled in one ordinance, but it did not have nough votes to pass at the Monday June 24 council meeting. Instead, the bond authorization was split in two and new ordinances introduced on Monday July 8.

Passage of Ordinance No. 19-15 would approve the issuance of $692,750 in bonds or notes toward a total cost of $872,750 for the installation of turf fields at Maple Grange Park.

Council president Jean Murphy said that some questions have been raised about the financing of the turf project and its potential impact on the environment and residents' health. There has been misinformation on social media, she said.

Meanwhile, Mayor Harry Shortway, who does not sit on the Council, has closed two natural grass fields in the park--but not the whole park he hastens to add. Shortway, who says he has coached 500 sporting events, said that the beaten down grass and hard grass fields pose a "signficant risk" to the hundreds of children who use the fields each year,

"I will not take any chances with safety," Shortway said.

Shortway estimated that the new turf fields would cost each household about $9 a year. He added that none of the scientific studies done had found any hazards from the use of articial turf.

July usually is a down time for the park, and administrators had counted on the installing the turf quickly. It's uncertain what impact the delay will have. but the township is working with youth groups and the schools to insure that fields and lights are available when they are needed.

Passage of a bond resolution requires four votes. Any bond issue passed by the Council could not take effect until 20 days after the first public notification of its adoption.

The second ordinance, 19-16, is not controversial. It would authorize borrowing of $856,777 toward &1,165,918 for town equipment already included in the town’s budget, Murphy said.

The ordinance calls for the purchase of a street sweeper, leaf vacuum, two dump truck bodies, along with sanders and shop equipment for the Departmentil of Public works, a fingerprinting machine and a generator.

It also calls for the improvement of various township streets, and the purchase of a dump truck.

Murphy, along with Council members Sandra Ooms and Patrick Curreri voted for splitting the bond ordinance while Councilmen John Auberger and Mark Van Tassel voted against.

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