EDITORIAL

magick-8972eAoOKmrTaGHrKINGSWAY’S $12M SPORTS COMPLEX – DO THE DOLLARS MAKE SENSE?

By Karen E. Viereck, Editor/Publisher

Voters in Swedesboro, Woolwich, East Greenwich, and South Harrison will be asked on March 8 to approve or vote down a $12 million referendum to fund renovations to Kingsway Regional High School’s sports complex.

Here are the facts:

The referendum will have two questions.

The first question will include installing new eight-lane track to replace the existing six-lane track that was condemned by the NJSIAA in fall 2014 for competition purposes. Other track events will be relocated with newly constructed areas.

The question will also include the change of the grass football field to a synthetic turf surface, along with the addition of a new synthetic turf surface field. The football stands would be enlarged by 300 seats, making it just over a 900 seat capacity. The home bleachers press box would be expanded, and a new bus maintenance building would be constructed.

The second question involves expanding the existing field house, and constructing a new track and field/band field house to include lockers, meeting rooms, bathrooms, concession area, and marching band storage.

One or both questions can be approved or voted down. Approval will mean tax increases.

For the average assessed home in East Greenwich of $269,454, approval of Question #1 would mean an increase of $60.32 a year; Question #2 an increase of $11.99. And if both are approved, an increase of $72.31 per year.

For the average assessed home in South Harrison Township of $322,058, approval of Question #1 would mean an increase of $83.51 a year; Question #2 would be an increase of $16.59. If both are approved, an increase of $100.10.

For the average assessed home in Swedesboro of $171,527, approval of Question #1 would mean an increase of $47.94 a year; Question #2, an increase of $9.52. If both are approved, an increase of $57.46.

For the average assessed home in Woolwich Township of $287,361 approval of Question #1 would mean an increase of $72.77; Question #2, an increase of $14.45. If both are approved, an increase of $87.22.

Those are the cut and dried facts. But the question is can we afford to increase our taxes to fund EXTRA CURRICULAR activities. These activities and the associated tax money will in no way benefit all the students in the school.

State funding for our schools is marginal at best, so why not save our tax dollars to make up for its shortfall if absolutely necessary?

This sports complex money will only benefit a few students to get into college with an athletic scholarship. Save this money to put towards classes and educational programs to give more students a chance at scholarships and acceptance into higher education.

Yes, they need a new track. The original track was installed in 1964 and replaced in 1992.

But the track replacement should have been given as a separate question. I guess the Kingsway Board of Education decided that since they are asking for money from taxpayers, why not shoot for the stars and ask for their entire dream list. Other schools have these facilities, so why shouldn’t we?

Their current bus maintenance building, according to Lavender, is not big enough to safely do repairs and allow them to take in more shared services which would generate more funds. Kingsway tried to solve this problem by entering into talks with East Greenwich Township for a shared service agree for the use of their public works building to be used as the bus maintenance building. The agreement did not happen.

According to Lavender, Kingsway was interested in a lease-purchase of the building and would then pay to retrofit the building to meet their needs. East Greenwich only wanted to sell the building to Kingsway. Lavender said the cost to purchase the building and retrofit it was prohibitive and unfair to taxpayers, so an agreement was never reached.

Maybe this is an option that should be explored again with both sides rethinking the benefits to the taxpayers.

Current football field issue: Lavender said there is a drainage issue on the north west corner of the field and they’ve had to move start times of games so they could pump the water out.

Is that worth $12 million?

Lavender stated that the construction of the new turf field would allow more flexibility and allow more community teams to use the fields. Really? We already pay municipal taxes for the park fields for them to play on. I know field space is tight but can we afford to be double taxed for them?

According to Lavender, construction of the new sports complex would generate more funds. He said that Kingsway presently generates $75,000 annually through facility usage and athletic participation fees. He believes they can double that number with the new facility.

However, that money will not be put towards lowering our taxes. It would be put towards maintenance and budgeted reserves, according to Lavender.

I am all for sports. I participated in high school and collegiate sports, so I know their benefits. But they are EXTRA CURRICULAR – not worth my tax dollars right now. Replace the track and work out a fair deal with East Greenwich for their building. We don’t need to spend $12 million for that.

This is just my opinion. It is no more or less important than yours. March 8 is your opportunity to make your opinion heard, so please vote.

The following is where and when to vote. Polls are open for a shorter time period than regular elections so please note the times.

EAST GREENWICH TWP.

East Greenwich Municipal Building

159 Democrat Road, Mickleton

Polls will be open from 2 p.m.-9 p.m.

SOUTH HARRISON TWP.

South Harrison Municipal Building

664 Harrisonville Road

Polls will be open from 2 p.m.-9 p.m.

SWEDESBORO BOROUGH

Woolwich Fire Station

1517 Kings Highway

Polls will be open from 2 p.m.–9 p.m.

WOOLWICH TWP.

Kingsway Regional High School

Media Center North

201 Kings Highway, Woolwich

Polls will be open from 2 p.m.–9 p.m.

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