Cobb, Mittermaier tracts to become soccer complex

Officials say facility will offer active/passive
recreation for all

By elaine van develde
Staff Writer

Officials say facility will offer active/passive
recreation for all
By elaine van develde
Staff Writer

TINTON FALLS — The sales are complete and soccer fields are planned to cover two contiguous open space tracts in town.

Those tracts are the 12-acre Mittermaier property and the 17.5-acre Cobb Kennel property. They sit side by side on Sycamore Avenue.

Together they will comprise the Sycamore Avenue soccer complex, which will be operational by the fall of 2003, according to Mayor Ann McNamara.

The two properties were on the open space wish list for some time. They are the most recent purchases of open space and tapped the open space till.

While the borough bonded for the sale, the payoff of those loans will be garnered from the open space tax fund.

Tinton Falls has a 1.5-cent open space tax. That, according to Peter Maclearie, open space chair and councilman, translates into a cost of about $22 a year for the average homeowner.

After arduous negotiations, the borough signed final contracts on the properties, closing a $1.5 million deal on Cobb and a nearly $1 million deal on Mittermaier only a few months ago. Now signs that the project is moving forward are popping up.

The first sign was the hiring of T&M Associates, Middletown, as the engineering firm to coordinate and design the complex.

According to Borough Administrator Anthony Muscillo, there was a conceptual plan for the site which was sanctioned by the Tinton Falls Soccer Association and the open space committee. As of last week, "hard engineering plans [were] under way," he said.

While both property owners (the Mittermaiers and the Cobbs) are now in the process of vacating the premises, $8,000 of borough money was OK’d to pay for aerial photographs of the site.

"The photos will help the engineers design field topography maps to complete the project," said Muscillo. The design will include more than soccer fields.

Though the need for centralized soccer fields was noted before any design was decided on, said Maclearie, the project’s concept always had both active and passive recreation needs in mind.

In addition to two existing soccer fields, six more soccer fields will be added to the site, three of which will have lights, according to Muscillo.

The properties also will house walking trails, a tot lot, parking for 230 vehicles, and passive and active recreation to tie in with the borough’s greenways project.

The aim of the greenways program, said Maclearie, is to connect environmentally sensitive land from in back of the Mahala F. Atchison School (next to the Mittermaier tract) to state land that extends west from the school through the rear of the Mittermaier and Cobb tracts. Trails would run from the back of the new soccer complex to the Garden State Parkway border and back along to the Tinton Falls river (on Swimming River Road and Sycamore Avenue) and other bodies of water.

"The idea is to eventually be able to walk for more than a mile uninterrupted," said Maclearie. "It was a long-term plan for which the environmental commission applied for grants."

To boost funding to supplement the cost of the soccer complex project, the borough will source out N.J. Department of Environmental Protection Green Acres program funding. The program offers matching fund grants and low-interest loans.

The project’s aim to fulfill both passive and active recreation needs is well met, according to Maclearie.

The alternative for both properties was an increased density of housing in the area which needed more open space and recreation facilities.

The Mittermaier property was zoned for up to 11 single-family homes, and interest was expressed in the Cobb tract for an assisted-living complex as little as two years ago.

"There is a need for this type of recreation," said Maclearie. "It was recognized and the needs naturally fit the place because of work done in back of Atchison (school). There were soccer fields (two) cultivated by the town a couple of years ago. Sod was laid down and payment was made to maintain the two [almost] full-sized fields currently there."

Complementing the suitability of the land for soccer fields, said Maclearie, was the idea of one-stop sports shopping creating less scattered traffic. "It’s nicer to go to one central complex rather than all over town for games and practice," he said. "If a sport is localized in one spot, travel is to that one spot. While people are there, there are other passive recreation accommodations to take advantage of."

Maclearie and Muscillo agreed that the passive/active combination fits the area’s needs.

There have been low rumblings from some open space advocates that too many active recreation facilities can bring less peace and environmental risks from field grading, lighting and noise.

"Everyone has his own needs," Maclearie said. "We just have to try to balance them and get the most we can from what little is left in our open space fund.

"We have the properties. We have the needs. The properties may as well be used to accommodate those needs," he added.