William E. Cleary Sr. | CNBNewsnet
The Gloucester City Board of Education is considering installing stadium lights on the athletic field at the new Middle
School. They feel by doing it now before the field is completed it will save money. They also admit they may never complete this project and the preliminary work may be for naught. When the school was first proposed in 2002-03
the plans called for just an athletic field. According to a former school board member before he left the Board those plans were changed to include a turf field at an estimated cost of $600,000.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the Board by an 8-1 vote authorized School Board Secretary Margaret O’Donnell to seek proposals to start with the installation of the conduit for the stadium lights. The estimated cost is $125,000. It is not known how much the poles and stadium lights would cost. Nor do we know the cost for electricity to operate the lights.
What we do know is in 2009 the Board of Education approved spending $218,000 to install stadium lights at the high school. Without a doubt six years later that price has at the very least increased by 25 to 50 percent if not more.
When Board member William Johnson was asked why he was supporting the idea he explained that having lights on the field will allow the school sports, marching band, and even local youth sports to host night events. “These events will bring visitors to our town and maybe they will stay afterward to support our restaurants in the area. I also believe that having lights will totally complete the turf, all-purpose (soccer, football, field hockey, track) athletic field. This field will be the best athletic field in this area, adding lights will allow us to get full use out of it.” Johnson emphasized that he was speaking for himself, and not the School Board.
We beg to differ with Mr. Johnson and the other Board members who support the idea. As far as we know there are no elementary-middle school football teams, marching bands, field hockey or track teams in South Jersey.
And even if there was the school district already has a lighted field at the high school that the children at the new elementary school could use for soccer, football, field hockey and track if necessary. Likewise, there are numerous lighted fields at the Johnson Boulevard sports complex that are also available.
The cost for the construction of the Middle School is estimated at $64 million. Add the cost of clearing the contaminants from the building site ($20 million) along with the loss of tax ratables ($3 million) and the cost increases to an estimated $87 million. Last year when the district was laying off employees because of a $5 million budget deficit Johnson said he and the Board were concerned where the money was coming from to pay the $500,000 estimated maintenance cost for the new school. Yet several months later the Board is talking about spending money to light up an athletic field.
What has changed?
Lastly, figures were released recently that revealed New Jersey has the highest number of home foreclosures in the nation. According to PATCH.COM , "More than 60 New Jersey towns are among the 500 towns with the highest foreclosure rates in the country, out of more than 10,000 communities." Coming in at number 19 is the City of Gloucester. People are losing their homes at an alarming rate in our town and our school board is talking about lighting up a turf athletic field. Who can afford to pay for their extravagance?
The members of the Gloucester City School Board along with the Gloucester City Mayor and Council should stop and think about reducing taxes for once. We have said this before, you can’t keep raising taxes year and year out. Eventually, the well will run dry. Meaning no one will be able to afford to live here in Gloucester City or in the state of New Jersey. The fact that Gloucester City is listed in the top 20 communities with the most foreclosures in the state and 187th in the nation is a sign that our prediction is coming true sooner than later, much to our regret.
RELATED ARTICLE: N.J. Towns With Worst Foreclosure Rates - Is Your Town Here? Bellmawr is there, so is Camden, Pennsauken, Cinnaminson, and others.