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Toms River Softball Complex's Impact on Neighbors

As project moves toward completion on North Bay Avenue, how do neighbors feel?

For more than a year, a has been a project in progress for the community, but some of the residents near the site are wondering how it will affect the neighborhood.

There were many mixed feelings in the surrounding community about new stadium lights and felled trees, but the complex also represents another community epicenter where neighbors can gather.

“I’m glad it’s here. I’m excited,” said Steve Cassarino, pastor at , directly across from the fields. 

“It’s our desire as a church to serve the community, and the complex gives the opportunity,” said Cassarino.

Community was a minor concern to other nearby residents when compared to the personal burdens the softball complex may impose. 

Robert Bressman has been a North Bay Avenue resident since 1998. With the five fields and playground added to his area, he believes the neighborhood will change for the worse.

Bressman said he is expecting the head-on parking that faces his house and the stadium lighting to be a nuisance; the smokers who may congregate closer to his house and away from smoke-free park to be a hazard, but most significantly, he considers the debris of construction  pollution and disrespectful to the wetlands behind the complex.

“I went to a council meeting and that’s how I found out about it. The first time I was notified was a note from the architect for the 30-day public comment,” said Bressman.

Robert Chankalian, Department of Engineering director, said the public was notified of the project via multiple notices, in print and online. The process started with an application mailed March 19, 2010.

“It was not done in the dark. There were tons and tons of public hearing meetings,” Chankalian said. 

“If there were any adverse comments,” said Paul Shives, township administrator, there would have been no moving forward. 

The main focus of the project is to create a municipal softball complex, as baseball already has two complexes in Toms River.

“The boys have two locations. Each has seven, eight, 10 fields,” Chankalian said.

Lisa, a North Bay resident, saw both sides of the fence: the benefit to her softball-playing daughter versus the increased traffic during games, potential eyesore of stadium lighting and the possibility of a rundown township park.

“Toms River has so many underutilized parks. Maintenance is disgusting,” said Lisa. The only tree buffer left are a handful of “ugly, crappy oak trees.”

With a 45-mph road, “I can’t get out as it is,” said Lisa, who said she has been hit on several occasions coming out of her driveway. 

“I’m torn. It’s great for my daughter,” she said.

She believes there's an impact to real estate values, too, as not many homebuyers are looking to move into foul ball territory. 

“It’s killed property value. This has now hurt us,” said Lisa.

Aside from property value, aesthetics and increased traffic, Bressman and Lisa both mentioned a longtime neighbor who is a registered sex offender and the township's knowledge of his proximity to the park. 

Anthony Merlino, assistant township attorney, said “The location of sex offenders cannot dictate where the township decides to construct recreational facilities. If that were the case, recreational facilities might never get built.

"The presence of sex offenders is a reality towards which all communities must remain exceedingly vigilant, but not live in paralyzing fear of. From the township’s perspective, these fields are a worthy addition to our outstanding recreational complexes that parents and children should enjoy without reservation.”

The 26-acre site was formerly known as the Epstein and Frankenburg poultry farms. The site is on the east side of North Bay, while residential properties and the church are on the west side of much of the avenue.

North Bay neighbor Meredith Burke welcomed the softball center as a compliment to the community. 

“It’s nice; something for the community,” said Burke, although she showed concern for parking during large tournaments. 

Long time Trinity Fellowship member and recent North Bay resident, Edward Anderson, did not have a complaint about the new landmark. 

“It’s a good idea. Anything for the youth is good for the community,” said Anderson. 

Maintenance was his only concern: “As long as its taken care of by the people that use it.”

bayway mike January 12, 2012 at 10:59 PM
I just can't wait until all of the extra traffic on North Bay begins when the field is in use!! After driving past the park, it sure does not look like there is enough of car parking, let alone parking for buses!! Did the township think twice about the added police who WILL be at the park when a softball goes thru a windshield, because your insurance company wants a police report??Or when a fender bender happens in the parking lot, or when a car is left unlocked and personel items are removed from the car, the list is endless..I just hope that when an out of town softball league uses the field, that they are charged a rental fee..Thank you for letting me vent..
Robert Bressman January 13, 2012 at 12:54 AM
I complained right from the start, my complaints fell on deaf ears and for Paul shives to say they would have stopped if there had been any complaints, is frankly a complete fabrication. I asked for privacy trees, they added twigs, the reason I have to look at disneyland is because the police dept , who's station is just down the road can't stop vandalism and kids hanging out if there are trees. What the town is saying if you have trees on your property your on your own they can't protect you or your property. I haven't had a good night sleep since I met with Paul Shives. When the leaders of your town say things like this it's to say the least unnerving. It's time to get a gun.
Shore Skeptic January 13, 2012 at 01:05 AM
...or drunken parents tailgating in the parking lot. Oh, wait they only do that at Middletown South football games.
HR January 13, 2012 at 01:07 AM
Can't wait until the first tournament out of towners play on the fields. #1 there is in no way enough parking as it stands right now #2 the road and turn on to Whitty is a nightmare as it now with no shoulder. Imagine the wait people will have waiting for people to turn #3 the town spent $7,000,000 + on those fields and last weekend two separate fields were being utilized as a playground for about 4 dogs. Imagine the kids hanging there at night? Very poor planning and the people who designed this should be fired ASAP. Wrong place and economically the most irresponsible time to do a non-essential project like this.
Greg January 13, 2012 at 01:32 AM
Other than Robert Bressman where were the rest of the residents that live near this facility. From what I have read and seen at Council meting the only person who really has the right to complain is Mr. Bressman!
HR January 13, 2012 at 01:49 AM
Does it really matter? The town Committee is consisted of the same men who get recycled from one political position to the next. They could care less what I think, what you think, what Mr. Bressman thinks or anyone else. I do live around there but not close enough for the fields to directly effect me as I will spend the extra $$$ to avoid this area. But I would like to know why is it up to the residents to complain? Why can't proper planning, proper placement, and good old common sense be used by these committee members? Isn't that their job?
Laci January 13, 2012 at 02:31 AM
Welcome to the world that the residents surrounding theToms River East Little League have been dealing with for years. 8 fields planted smack in the middle of a residential neighborhood, with nearly a twig of an oak tree planted as screening. Come visit our neighborhood on "opening day" and your eyes will be opened of what you can expect for the next couple of months with the parking or lack of,unruley parents and the garbage that they leave behind and the overhead night lights burning all night because the last person to leave, forgot to shut them off.
Ken January 13, 2012 at 02:56 AM
I do not live near there, but I do live in Toms River. This should have not bee built there or for that matter any other part of Toms River. With property taxes so high wy are we spending this money. Of course the mayor and the rest will sound like we are getting all the money for free to build this, what a joke. The girls suvived all these years without this and did fine. The politicans just love spending money and want to see their name in the paper and say "look what I have done". Bet the mayor can't wait to get out there on opening day to throw the first pitch.
Mr. ? January 13, 2012 at 03:11 AM
If you drive past you will see Mr. Bressman is truly and most drastically affected by these fields. IF a local government, planner, or architect was AT ALL concerned with the welfare of a resident, there are cures to some of the many apparent problems. First one I can think of is night games. Without a buffer, and I have never heard of a proposal that did not buffer different use properties from each other, the front row parking toward the road SHOULD NOT HAVE CARS WITH THEIR HEADLIGHTS FACING ANYONE'S PROPERTY!! Park them the other way! The speed limit should be decreased and as far as I know this road is under TR Twsp jurisdiction. Noise, Uh oh! but you know they put up highway to residential buffer walls for that, but of course "they" want to show off their new accomplishment. Garbage? If I was a local resident who was trashed by this I would walk around with a video camera and have hundreds of summonses issued so no one would ever return. The sacrifice of a few for the greater good....under who's definition. Opps! vooooooooooootes! Shame on you TR Town! Ha, build it and they will come
Mr. ? January 13, 2012 at 03:28 AM
Almost forgot, and the buffer?...as I read articles in papers like the Toms River Times "come and "LOOK LOOK LOOK LOOK.....AT WHAT WE HAVE DONE!!" ...... without saying look at how we $%&$@% the neighbors. What a Fluff piece by the Patch! You failed to explain that one particular resident is ten times more adversely affected than all others while presenting more positive, pro, opinion. And the local church? More Sunday attendance? Hmm.
. January 13, 2012 at 04:27 AM
....not to mention what a complete waste of money this field appears to be. I can't have twice a week garbage pickup during the summer anymore, or never see a street sweeper in Toms River, and have to wait forever for a snow plow, but we needed this field. Totally unnecessary.
Steve Domanski January 13, 2012 at 11:30 AM
If you want a preview of what is to come,go onto Chestnut Street,behind the Walnut St.School.The lights are on when no one is there.Cars parked on both side of the street,past the white fog line.Children and parents darting out,and across between parked cars.It's only a matter of time !!!!
Robert Bressman January 13, 2012 at 12:11 PM
Laci, I've been to your fields at TRELL, and though I do't live there I complained plenty to the town about that mess over there, to listen to Paul Shives you think they made every effort to help the area.Foul balls bouncing off the houses, strangers walking on their front lawns retrieving balls, porta john ten feet off the street, the garbage, the parents who don't give a damn as long as their kid plays ball. they think I'm nuts because I don't live over there and I complain because this town builds these things and then walks away. The pastor has no idea what this area is in for. I sent letters to everyone who lived in the area of the fields, one person responded and when I said I had a meeting with the town they backed out, sad but everyone is afraid of their local government.
Mapleleafnj January 13, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Dont worry, if you kids plays softball, it will run you $200 to play, 4 hours at the slopshack for a work bond, and you'll find out everyone connected did not pay S**T. They will need to own a few small CATs to maintain the beast, and not to mention all the water to keep the grass from dying. Then if you decide to be at the game, you'll get hit up every 10 minutes for some useless fund raiser that never makes the fees go down. Plus, you'll be expected to sell 10 coupons for $5 a piece to one of the local busniess' who are connected. And Im not even gonna get into all the other BS that goes on to raise money. They still owe on the TRLL building on Maple. Plus 90% of the baseball parents in this town are complete Jackasses, who really think their kid is so freakin great. RIght, Panama, DR, Cuba, Japan, your kid will stack up against them for sure with how things are run here. Worse thing to happen to baseball in TR was winning that LLWS. Anyway, Remember, before Bloomfield & North Bergan became dumps, they had ballfields and parks on every corner, now the dugouts are homes to "BUMs & Vagrants & Drug Dealers" in the off season. Guess we need to give one of the councils cronies the security detail watching the park at night. Another great job by the HACKS. Heres an idea to the voters, lets just keep voting them in and keep complaining about how s**ty they are doing. Wake up TR. Bob I really feel for you. Politicians in this town are thugs. "PLAY BALL" Mapleleafnj
LA RUE January 13, 2012 at 02:20 PM
I drive on that road every Fri/Sat/Sun, and use to love the country style feeling that the road had. At times, thought of looking at sale homes in that area because of that feeling. So private. There's a two story vintage looking home directly across from this field, that would catch my eye every weekend.It's picture would say a thousand woods. What a great feeling it gave.Then one day passing that home, the trucks and cranes were knocking down and pileing up beautiful old oaks and maples.What a horrible feeling it gave.The beauty, serenity and peacfullness of the area were now gone, making way for busy traffic and more town problems. Sad....so sad.My heart goes out to all that live there. I'm sure in little time, we will start to see the signs... "ForSale"... going up on the front lawns of many homes.
Greg January 13, 2012 at 03:44 PM
You have to remember that all of these softball parents go out and vote! When the Council was talking about building the complex the softball parents and coaches packed the Council room. There were MANY more people who were connected to this project than there was those who were opposed. After the Council decided that they were going to be building this complex we (the residents) were told that this was the "best" time for us to build these fields. The construction costs and interest rates are at historic lows. Of course there are many people who are losing their homes due to foreclosure and the rest of us are barely making it but, according to Mr. Hill we needed this field. Also according to Mr. Hill the more recreation that we have in this town the less gang activity and vandalism we will have in the town. I don't know under what rock Mr. Hill is living under but, as I and many others drive around the town I see more and more vandalism. Let us not forget that there are many of these girls that are playing on these teams that DO NOT LIVE IN TOMS RIVER! Please don't tell me that they go to the Toms River Schools. Yes, they may go to the school district but, they who live in South Toms River, Beachwood and, Pine Beach do not pay for these fields. Yes, they pay a registration fee to play but, we the taxpayers of Toms River have to pay for all of the upkeep and any of the repairs that will be needed!
Mr. ? January 13, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Almost seven million of taxpayers money spent?, while total TR Twsp. assessed property values decrease. And a forecast for an increased foreclosure rate in 2012. A continued lose of the total assessed property valuations and the decrease in property tax revenues collected by the municipality creating even more budgetary strain. Businesses leaving and increased unemployment. Lose of total evaluation creating a new higher tax rate to even out the rateable / revenue lose. Higher taxes for some and more increased foreclosures. But its OK, they can live in the woods behind the fields and don't have to go far to play ball. Sorry! But money is cheap so lets borrow, bond, and spend more! You know...it's for the children! Hey we can use that Open Space Trust fund money, right? Divide this by 7 mil by 900 girls, equals a cost of $7,777.00 per girl! How many of these girls in the TR league don't live in TR and don't pay TR taxes! So, if you can offset the complex cost by supportive revenues from these games that could help cure the debt. Is it true that if a out of town league hosts a game here, they take the receipts, money, with them... while WE pay for their play? And there goes the tax revenue base, as I believe Mr Bressman will be paying much less in taxes with his decreased property value. Sad!
justamom January 13, 2012 at 07:30 PM
I hope for sale signs do go up because im dying to live over there. I now live across the street from the infamous bubble and I love it. I would much rather see kids playing sports than eating doritos and playing ps3. Sorry ppl. This is America, if you dont like it move. If you complain and do nothing about it run for office. Have a nice day!
HR January 13, 2012 at 11:22 PM
As in the welfare complex, excuse me "low income housing" that will be built in the North Dover area of rt 9 and Cox Cro? Wait and see how fast crime springs up there and wait for the teachers and parents reactions at Citta and ND when the average class size goes up 5-10 kids. Yet another brilliant move of our township officials. But in this case, the owner of the land was a HUGE political contributor to one cause. At least we know why the board approved it despite petitions and numerous objections from the citizens.
bayway mike January 14, 2012 at 12:56 AM
Robert, I don't live near-by, but I feel your pain.
Mapleleafnj January 14, 2012 at 06:52 AM
Why did anything have to go there at all???? Was it costing anything to support vacant land? So we spend 7 million to then have to dump another 100k a year for the next 40 years to maintain it. Trust me, the kids are still going to play PS3, XBOX, and jerk around on IPHones. Did any of the existing crap we have in this town stop that in the first place? Are we trying to compete "WIT DE UP NORTS, who think everything is better up there so lets make it look like "Its UP NORT"? I think all of us are more then willing to support reasonable public projects. What most cant stand is it being shoved down our throats and being beaten on that its "FOR THE CHILDREN". Meanwhile we do fund raisers to get Cops bullet proof vests cus of budget cuts. Really what gives, its like a bad game "What town has a bigger bubble then TR?". With all the great facilities in this town, how come 99.9% of the kids wind up in a BEER league by age 20? They have a better chance getting someplace with a computer skill gained from gaming on an XBOX or jerking around on an Iphone. At least those skills are what is being outsources to India these days. Enough rant. Bob and other locals, I feel for you.
Sean Conneamhe January 14, 2012 at 10:48 AM
"Bring back the poultry farms."
Robert Bressman January 14, 2012 at 01:25 PM
If you live over by the bubble your far enough away from it, that it wouldn't affect you other than looking at a big whit dome, when your as close to the fields as we are or the people that live near the TRELL fields I think you might change your mind about living near ballfields and I don't know what you think those concessions stands sell, but it's not health foods I can tell you that. this is America, but that doesn't make it that easy to move and I doubt you would pay $500,000 to live across from this mess they just built. sometimes it's better to think before you write.
LA RUE January 14, 2012 at 01:50 PM
I'm all for that Sean!
Ken January 14, 2012 at 05:52 PM
Mr Bressman very well put. The bubble is a totally different thing. First of all you already have the chools there and secondly if you live across from it you are quite far away with Hooper Avenue seperating you.
Project Bluebeam January 14, 2012 at 09:29 PM
"The girls suvived all these years without this and did fine" Sexist much?
Ken January 14, 2012 at 09:32 PM
Hey Project Bluebeam, if it would actually happen I would say get rid of the boy's leagues fields as well. It is not sexist, it is just this is the newest waste of money. So get your head out of your butt.
Carol Aller January 15, 2012 at 03:22 AM
Amen, Amen, AMEN!!! And people WERE against this inappropriate expenditure at this time in our economy....but our fearless 'leaders' couldn't care less.

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