Recreation is not a pawn for politics, official says

Millstone Township Recreation is not a pawn for politics.I cannot understand the benefit of a political position to keep interfering with the welfare of our children.

Parents and residents of Millstone, I am sorry to inform you that there is some kind of underlying political position in the Republican Party to use recreation, or should I say abuse recreation. Somehow the voters have allowed these few individuals, who seek nothing but political power to create controversy, for no other benefit than political gain.

Well, it is time that all of you speak up.

This attitude has been around since the 1990s. The same individuals that fought myself and others to build a central recreation park, now in 2004 use this as a buzzword, just to create some kind of political advantage. Don’t ask me what it is, because all I see is it splits our community further apart.

Recreation only asks the Township Committee for support.

We have grown the program in the last 10 years from a budget of $35,000 to over $500,000. Most importantly, it was done self-sufficiently by recreation. Only the capital improvements came from taxes or bonds.

We have provided many programs for children and adults. We have added new programs and spent countless hours building and fixing our parks.

None of our commissioners care about any particular party or politics. We have worked with many township committees controlled by both parties. We always argued, but we did it with respect and communication. However, this year is totally different.

As I said, there seems to be an agenda to keep interfering with recreation. The mayor and deputy mayor promised us cooperation. Instead, they had private meetings with the residents about Wagner Park and had private meetings with a recreation program board. All of this was done without informing recreation or our liaison on the Township Committee.

To cap all of this off, the administration puts forward an ordinance to deed-restrict Wagner Park. No one from recreation requested anything of the Township Committee. Again, recreation was not informed of this and neither was our liaison.

Then, when the parents speak up, the paper reports that they are putting kids against kids. That is nothing more than political spin, and political correctness.

Parents, if you don’t fight for your kids’ rights, then they will be lost. You have every right to make sure that your kids have the best recreation and education this town can offer. After all, you didn’t move to Millstone in a one-bedroom townhome. You came here for your kids.

We have built some beautiful parks — Brandywine, Rocky Brook, Little League, Wagner Park. We built these for specific programs and have received admiration from many of our neighboring towns. Ten years ago it would have been easier to build it all in one spot. It didn’t happen, so we moved forward. In retrospect, the community gained. People living near the parks get many benefits, such as the tot lots, bike trails, basketball courts, tennis courts, and fields which their children can enjoy without needing a car ride.

Our elected officials should have embraced the efforts of recreation, not try to play with it for political gain. They talk to our kids about sportsmanship and decency; has anyone seen the township meetings? There is absolutely no respect for one another at these meetings.

My message is simple: The mayor and deputy mayor need to forget all the rhetoric and stop trying to use situations in recreation for placing blame or winning elections. You have stonewalled Abate Park and it has cost the town $100,000 in free grading.

We need tennis courts, skate park, and basketball courts. And what community would not love to have an arboretum? These are all at Abate Park.

Discussions about recreation belong at recreation. In that way, we can leave the politics at the door.

A word to the parents: Just in case your elected officials don’t get the message, then send them one at election time — a vote for someone who absolutely endorses recreation, will promote the building of our park and will support your children.

All of us at recreation promise you we will work hard for your children, but in the end it is every parent’s effort that is needed. My words or position are not enough. Parents, you need to make your position known now, especially those with small children who will enjoy these facilities for many years in the future.

Please note these are my own comments and not an official response from recreation.

Jim Kronenthal is the treasurer of Millstone Recreation