Moving forward with the Moorestown field projects

With the goal to “close the loop,” and put a long debated issue to rest, the Moorestown Township Council agreed to call a public meeting next week to discuss funding sources for the two remaining field projects at Wesley Bishop North and South.

Council members have already approved lighting improvements for Maple Dawson and Jeff Young Parks and a complete makeover for Pryor Park in the past weeks.

Council needs four votes — not a simple majority — to bond for the remaining projects. It only needs three votes, Mayor John Button said, to use funding from the Open Space, Recreation, Farmland and Historic Preservation Trust Fund.

Wesley Bishop North is estimated to cost about $1.51 million to complete — including the construction of a second artificial turf field, grating work and parking lot improvements — but about half of the cost is already covered through private donations from sport clubs.

Wesley Bishop South came in at $475,000 for improvements to the turf field and a better irrigation system.

When asked for his opinion, Township Manager Scott Carew said the township’s fiscal health was good moving forward in the next several years and could support the remaining projects from its general fund.

However, council currently doesn’t have the necessary votes to bond out for the Wesley Bishop North and South projects. Councilwoman Stacey Jordan again said she couldn’t spend funding on the two expensive projects when there were so many unknowns moving forward.

“I’m not comfortable gambling with these projects when we don’t know the revenue source,” she said.

Councilman Chris Chiacchio was not in attendance at the meeting — due to a death in his family, according to Button — but has made it clear in past meetings that he doesn’t support spending tax dollars for the projects.

It’s time to move forward with this issue, Button said, because there are other pressing issues that need to be discussed in the township as well.

Button said he’s not advocating or denying the use of the trust fund for the project.

“Lets just move on with this. We’ve talked about these projects for a lot of time,” he said.