Under Review: Petition to Place Artificial Turf Referendum on Maplewood Ballot in November

A petition to repeal plans to create an artificial turf pitch at DeHart Park in Maplewood has been submitted to the Maplewood ward clerk with the aim of getting the issue up for a vote on the November 2nd ballot.

Maplewood Town Clerk Liz Fritzen said she received the petition at 3:15 pm on August 9th. “I have not checked the petition,” wrote Fritzen by email on August 11th. “The law allows 10 days to consider and approve the petition. (40: 49-27b. Confirmation of the petition). “

After the Maplewood Township Committee voted on July 20 to promote a loan to design an artificial turf pitch in DeHart Park in the Hilton neighborhood, a group of residents began to reverse the decision in a November 2 referendum.

Plans to build an artificial turf field in DeHart were dashed back in 2008 when a referendum against the move, but won a vote of 52% against and 48% for artificial turf.

“Dear neighbors, I was here earlier with a petition calling for a referendum in November to stop a proposed $ 1.75 million Maplewood bond that is affecting a synthetic turf field in DeHart Park in the Burnett Avenue to replace the existing turf sports field there, ”read a flyer by community activist Paul Surovell, which was circulated after the TC vote.

Surovell raised health and environmental concerns in its flyer and asked residents to go to www.dontturfdehart.com for more information.

Community members who support an artificial turf field have come together to form the Facebook group MAPSO Recreation Fields Task Force.

Twenty-five residents called for the Maplewood Township Committee’s public hearing on the ordinance on field design bonds on July 20, 15 opposed the bond on environmental, health and social justice grounds, and 10 advocated the continued closure of straggled grass fields with drainage problems .

The members of the TC voted 4 to 1 to approve the bond, with Nancy Adams, the environmental commissioner’s liaison officer, being the only dissent.

Mayor Frank McGehee described the issue as one of the most divisive that he had experienced in his time as a resident. However, McGehee said the COVID-19 pandemic had shaped him by the need to offer activities that keep kids away from screens.

Citing the tone of the discussion on social media, McGehee said that going forward, “my hope is that we will find common ground in a respectful way”.

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