Memorial Field plans on hold

Given the amount of mail council has received regarding Memorial Field and the large showing of residents at the meeting, council recognized that the plan needs more work.

At the most recent meeting of Moorestown Township Council, residents packed nearly every seat in Town Hall’s Council Chambers to discuss Memorial Field. Residents expressed an array of concerns about how proposed updates to the facility could impact neighbors in the surrounding area.

Deputy Mayor Manuel Delgado initiated the discussion by informing the crowd any proposed plans are on hold. He said given the amount of mail council has received regarding Memorial Field and the large showing of residents at the meeting, council recognizes the plan needs more work.

More than a year ago, the township had Taylor Design Group create a concept plan for new soccer fields that showed all of the potential locations where the fields could go. Memorial Field is currently host to two soccer fields and four baseball diamonds. The proposed plan was to remove one of the baseball diamonds to have three soccer fields on the left side of the field.

Delgado explained grass fields can only be utilized for a limited number of consecutive days before they need to be rested, so the idea is to have two fields in use at any given time while one field rests. The plan also called for additional lighting at the facility, so that residents can use the space year-round.

Resident Marie Cappuccio said her home is halfway between Memorial Field and Main Street. She said in the spring and fall, her family can hear children playing on the field in the afternoon until dark. She said if the township adds lighting to Memorial Field, that noise won’t stop when the sun goes down.

Cappuccio said in addition to inviting more noise, the lights may be visible from the houses in the surrounding area.

“That is going to disrupt the peaceful living — our peaceful and quiet neighborhood,” Cappuccio said.

Resident Melanie Levan described Memorial Field as a “uniquely situated property” given its location in the middle of a residential area. She questioned what kind of setbacks and buffering the township has in mind. She said her home borders one of the baseball diamonds and there is currently no vegetation to separate her home from the field.

Councilman Michael Locatell responded it will probably take several more meetings with their planners, recreation department and residents before a formal plan for buffering is in place.

Resident Leonard Wagner said Memorial Field was dedicated to four men in Moorestown who fought in the Vietnam War, and the four fields were named in honor of each of the men. He said he hopes the township will not move the monuments.

“There’s a commitment that we made to the memory of those men, and I think it would really be kind of a disservice for us to kind of go back on that now,” Wagner said.

Resident Ruth Seel said one of the monuments bears her brother’s name. She said the markers are at Memorial Field specifically because they are baseball fields.

“The only welcome those four boys received from Moorestown was the honor of having a field named for them and now you want to take that away,” Seel said. “If you turn a baseball field into a soccer field, that is what you will do.”

Council unanimously responded it was not its intention to take the markers away.

Greg Scott, a resident of Kenwood Drive, said he was glad to hear the township was putting its plans on hold. He said games already bring a great deal of activity to the streets surrounding Memorial, and his hope is that, moving forward, council has all of the stakeholders involved in the planning process.

“Really, we’d like to just have a seat at the table,” Scott said.

The next meeting of Moorestown Township Council will take place on Monday, Sept. 24, at 7:30 p.m. at Town Hall.