Acker Park Meeting (August 15, 2007)

On August 15, 2007, in Other Meetings/Events, Video, by RP Citizens

Mayor Joe DeIorio and councilman Rick Matarante led the forum along with Borough Clerk Doreen Cali. The councilman and mayor explained the process of the funding and the proposed site. The proposal would include fixing the fencing, installing plantings, pavilions, tables and chairs, restrooms, and a walkway path, as well as fixing existing playground equipment.

The major concerns of the residents who lived in the vicinity of the park were that the basketball courts were a huge problem and now that they were down, the park has become enjoyable. Additionally, there have been no reports of trouble after hours when the park is closed or when the park is left unlocked sometimes.

The complaints concerning when the basketball courts were up were that there was loud noise, cars parking illegally, speeding, profanity, public urinating, threats directed at both adults and children, trash, broken glass, illegal drug use (pot, cannabis, marijuana, locoweed, ganja, buddha sess, reefer, cheeba), and one witnessed sex act.

The residents who live in the vicinity asked neighbors who do not live by the park to understand what they had to put up with from all the examples given above as well as noise disturbances when the park was not closed or when people found a way into Acker Park after closing.

Since the basketball rims have been removed, there have been no complaints about the park.

Councilman Matarante asked how the residents would feel about removable rims. There was no consensus on that idea.

The residents additionally stated that they did not feel comfortable with the barbeque grill area nor the restroom area, even if it was locked and given to authorized groups.

The mayor brought up renting out or reserving the park for groups that could use basketball courts or the barbeque area or the restrooms so there would be a designated time for use that people would be aware of. The neighbors stated that there would be a problem with parking. Additionally, if the park where reserved for use by groups, then it would cease becoming a neighborhood park since residents would not be able to use the park.

Residents stated that they would like an area for children to be able to play since there is a play area on the previous green space that was used for football, wiffle ball, football, kick ball, catch, etc. They would like the present equipment fixed and/or updated. A request for more trash receptacles was made. Councilman Matarante made a suggestion, based on the proposal, to fix the fencing, remove the mulch, and make the park a one level area, as opposed to different levels between the asphalt, grass, and mulch.

The opposing view asked how the basketball courts could be accommodated to allow older children to have a place to play basketball on the east end of town. Suggestions were made about installing removable rims, stepping up the neighborhood watch in the park area, have the basketball court closed only for authorized or reserved events, and having extra police patrols during certain hours. There was a viewpoint that the disturbances were not a park issue but a public safety issue that should be addressed strictly to maintain the courts. The mayor stated that a police presence could not be guaranteed since they would be called to another incident only to be pulled back fifteen minutes later for another disturbance complaint in the park.

An argument was made that having the basketball courts open would give teenagers a place to go instead of simply roaming about town. It would also address a quality of life issue for Roselle Park, having prospective buyers or visitors seeing basketball courts with no rims. The counter-argument was made that the quality of life is actually better since the rims have been removed.

Some residents stated that the park should be for small children and pre-teenagers. Other residents wanted to know where teenagers would go and play basketball. The proximity to the borough line neighboring is what some residents stated caused the trouble; the children who were residents were not the troublemakers but those from neighboring towns were.

Points were brought up regarding what plan there would be in place to maintain and monitor Acker Park after renovation took place. More shading in the form of trees was agreed to, along the same lines of the proposition rendering, but not in such a manner that people would not be able to see inside the park. A statement was made that a lot of trees could invite mosquitoes to the park or invite dogs into the park to urinate. Additionally, trees would need to be maintained and the residents wanted to know how that would be handled.

A question was brought up regarding the cost which would be covered through grant monies. People stated that the renovation would cost $500,000. The mayor and councilman stated that $500,000 was an amount that was going to be asked for, since the county would most likely never given the amount requested but something less. The Green Acres fund would match 25% of what would be given to the borough. The borough would not cover any cost over what was given, the borough would work with the amount that was granted to it.

Lighting for the park was proposed and a better fence, similar to the one at Kean University.