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CNB Tips and Snippets: Nearly $1 Million to Build Middle School Stadium; Our City Bureaucracy

UPDATED:  

William E. Cleary Sr. | CNBNewsnet

6a00d8341bf7d953ef0192abded29b970d-800wiNEARLY A MILLION DOLLARS FOR MIDDLE SCHOOL STADIUM --CNBNews was told by  Gloucester City school officials to contact the NEW JERSEY School Development Authority (SDA) for the cost of the stadium being built at the new Middle School on Market Street. The school board is considering installing lighting for the field. 

The new school is costing $64 million to build. Add to it the $20 million it cost to clear the ground of contaminants along with the $3 million plus in lost tax ratables and total for this project is $87 million. 

Recently the Board voted 8-1 in favor of having the conduit for the lights placed around the field for an estimated cost of $125,000.

Edythe Maier, SDA spokesperson said the cost of the playing field is $567,500. "Please note that this does not include bleachers or lighting. I am not able to give you a cost for the track as those costs are part of the overall site work being done for the project."

In 2009, the stadium lights for the high school field cost $218,000. More than likely that figure has increased in six years. According to City School Facilities Director John Kenney, the estimated costs for bleachers is between $40,000 and $50,000.  The sum of all the figures is an estimated $960,500.

Kenney said the field will need to be maintained eight hours a week, "The District will need to purchase turf cleaning and grooming equipment@ an estimated cost of $8000. Turf material costs are estimated at $1500 to 2000 per year. The field will be "tufted" ( lines in turf) for soccer, field hockey, and football. Painting of field lines for daily physical education activities and sports team usage will not be required.  Maintenance of the field/track area is estimated at 8 hours per week.   Our existing staff will be trained in turf field maintenance prior to the opening of the new school." 

Last year Kenney told Board members that he estimated it would cost $500,000 to maintain the new building. Board members were worried about where that money was going to come from. 

In April, when the public was told the district had a $5 million deficit, Board member William Johnson, a member of the finance committee, said he was concerned about future deficits and mentioned the operating costs for the new Middle School.

“We have been told several times by Facilities Director John Kenney to expect it to cost approximately $500,000 annually to maintain it. We have such a large deficit now how will we pay an additional $500,000 in the future? ”

Johnson voted in favor of spending the money to light up the Middle School stadium. 

The school district already owns a completed lighted stadium at the high school which is about a 10-minute walk from the site of the new Middle School. Why are we spending a million dollars for another one? 

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The School Board, at the December 8 meeting, approved the payment of bills totaling $3,877,082 for the month of November. Included in that figure is $2,127,162 for employee salaries, $761,395 for employee health benefits, $800,659 current expenditures, and $156,192 cafeteria fund.  

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THE WHEELS OF GOVERNMENT TURN SLOWLY-During a May 2015 executive session of Gloucester City Mayor and Council a presentation was given explaining plans to build a natural Commentary gas-fired turbine power plant on 22-acres in the Southport section of the City on Water Street and the riverfront). The developer for the project was Trans World Power(TWP). The city and TWP signed a six-month agreement that called for further research to determine if the project was technically and financially feasible. James and the CEO of TWP signed the agreement, however, the document does not show the date it was signed.

On July 12, 2015, CNBNews submitted an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request to the Custodian of Records Kathleen Jentsch asking for a copy of that presentation and agreement. Three days later Jentsch sent a response stating “matter is currently in the negotiation stage” and that the “materials are in the possession of our attorney for that purpose.”

September 1, 2015, Walter Luers, attorney for CNBNews, files a lawsuit in Camden County Superior Court that stated in part, 

there is no OPRA exception for materials that relate to negotiations, except for collective bargaining negotiations.  And the fact that the materials are in the possession of outside counsel does not insulate the materials from OPRA.  The requested would not also be reflective of the deliberative process because they are factual materials, not materials that reflect any deliberations of the governing body. - 

Related: CNBNews Files Lawsuit Against Gloucester City Custodian of Records

Leonard Wood, city attorney, contacts Luers and says (paraphrase) “I see no reason why your client (Cleary/CNBNews) can’t have all the documents requested.”

The lawsuit requested other documents besides the Trans World Power papers. Those documents were received in late October, but the Trans World Power (TWP) documents were missing. 

When asked about the missing papers Wood says that his office staff mistakenly forgot to send those papers.

Finally on November 30, we received the TWP presentation. We reach out to Jentsch and ask when will the City meet again with the TWP representatives. Jentsch responds in an email, “With regard to Trans World - the agreement speaks for itself, it has not been extended and no meetings are scheduled.  It has expired.”

 As stated by City Solicitor Wood, there wasn't one thing in that document that couldn't be shared with the public back in July when CNBNews first asked for the information. Yet we had to wait five months to obtain a copy.

Once again it makes one wonder why is our Mayor and Council so secretive. Instead shouting out to the public that they are working to make the City better they hide everything they do under a cloth of secrecy. And as we seen in the past their covertness cost time and money in employee salaries and legal fees.

The wheels of government bureaucracy turn slowly....painfully slow at times in Gloucester City. 

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