Township delays action, waits for ball-fields money

Resolution seeks $50,000 grant for ball fields

By: Vic Monaco
   EAST WINDSOR — The Township Council has delayed approval of a bond ordinance to fund capital purchases in hopes of getting yet another state grant to add to the ordinance.
   The $50,000 grant is earmarked for a $200,000 project to build new playing fields at Etra Park, according to a resolution approved by the council Tuesday.
   Mayor Janice Mironov explained that the bond ordinance was carried over Tuesday night until the next council meeting on Feb. 7 because the township is hopeful of receiving grant approval by that time.
   The township wants to locate two soccer fields, one baseball field, bleachers and a crushed stone parking lot for 136 cars on a 20-acre open field in Etra Lake Park. The $50,000 is earmarked for field irrigation.
   The grant application says the fields are needed to "serve a growing population resulting from the construction of over 600 single-family homes in the past six years."
   While the approved resolution clearly states the fields would be built at Etra Lake Park, Mayor Mironov sent out a press release Thursday saying the park is the "likely" site and that the township has begun to seek input from "directly involved groups and individuals about the nature of the needs in our community."
   The resolution approved by the Township Council on Tuesday seeks the $50,000 grant for ball fields from the state Department of the Treasury. Mayor Mironov holds the title of executive administrator within that state department, according to its Web site.
   The mayor said that in her state position she has "no role whatsoever in relationship to municipal grants or to this grant."
   The bond ordinance already includes a $150,000 grant from the state Department of Environmental Protection, which would pay for the balance of the ball-fields project. In addition, it includes a $225,000 grant from the state Department of Transportation for improvements to Twin Rivers Drive and a $100,000 Safe Streets to School program grant for the installation of sidewalks near the Melvin H. Kreps Middle School.
   Mayor Mironov said it has been the township’s tradition to incorporate approved grants in its capital ordinances.
   The $1.5 million ordinance would allow the township to borrow about $968,000 through bonds or notes to purchase items including a $100,000 fire truck for Fire Company No. 1, two rescue-squad vehicles for about $130,000, two dump trucks for the Public Works Department at a total cost of about $247,000 along with police handguns and radar units.
   Mayor Mironov has stressed that not all of the items listed in the ordinance will be funded.
   At Tuesday’s council meeting, Rich Slafer, a member of East Windsor Volunteer Fire Company No. 2, beseeched council to provide funding to cover all the company’s requests, including exercise equipment, gear and protective clothing, and a thermal imaging camera. He said he believed the total request was for about $59,000. That compares to about $36,000 in the ordinance, which includes gear and protective clothing but not the other items.
   Mr. Slafer stressed that he was not talking as an official of the company. Fire Chief Barry Rashkin, who also attended the meeting, angrily pointed that out as well and said he has been talking to township officials about the funding requests and no decisions have been made.