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Council Discusses Possible Redevelopment of Panther Park

Council and Board of Education to collaborate on multipurpose fields, running track, additional parking and other additions to Panther Park.

The Cedar Grove Township Council revisited the idea to redevelop Panther Park during its Monday night meeting.

“There are a few different concept drawings but the one that has generated the most interest includes a multipurpose football, soccer and lacrosse field with stands, a walking and running track, parking, lighting, concession stands and restrooms,” said Town Manager Tom Tucci.

About six months ago the town received three proposals from different firms and initially set aside money for a design in the 2012 capital budget but the money was cut back and eventually removed, said Tucci.

“The next step is appropriation for design,” he said. “You have to have design money in place before you can go out and ask for proposals.”

The initial estimate was about $1.5 million, but the revised estimate is now $1.8 million for the project.

“I think we are all in understanding of the fiscal restraints we have,” said Councilman Joseph Chiusolo. “The only way that we can come to fruition with this is through bonding.”

Superintendent Dr. Gene Polles and Board of Education member Laura Marinelli both attended Monday night's meeting.

During the public portion of the meeting Marinelli expressed concern about a lack of communication between the Township Council and the Board of Education.

“Had anyone asked what our visions were for this year, we would have identified our high school facility as an area of improvement,” she said.

“We are not looking to do the high school,” said Mayor Peter Tanella in response. “Our focus is on the further development of Panther Park. The township owns that property and we are looking to develop that and collaborate with the board with regard to the property adjacent to the park at the back of LRP.”

The council has discussed the possibility of collaborating with the Board of Education to expand the park to the area behind Leonard R. Parks Elementary School.

The girls softball field, which was the first phase of Panther Park, was done with input from the former athletic director and the former softball coach, said Tucci.

“As far as the second phase, we have not even begun to get to that point,” he added.

Going forward the council will look for input from the Board of Education further down the road, they said.

“Its reassuring to hear that down the road there will be a dialogue and collaboration of ideas,” said Marinelli.

In other news, the council announced that six township roads will be repaved over the next two or three days, completing the roadway overlay program for 2012.

The roads affected are Franklin Street, Union Street, Cedar Street, Patton Terrace, Morris Court and Personette Avenue

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