Opinion contributed by Suzanne and Blanchard Hiatt |
With secrecy until recently the township council and planners of Middletown have been entertaining a major soccer field proposal to transform Stephenson Park along West Front Street between the Normandy Road and Half Mile Road.
The proposal began as a concept for nine soccer fields in a rustic public space, largely passive and reserved for natural life and quiet contemplation. This bucolic amenity is to be substantially altered by development, transforming a quiet part of Middletown into a place busy with weekend and afternoon traffic, parking, and noise, and raising questions of public safety along West Front Street.
Change may be inevitable, but the sweeping concept includes five soccer fields that lie directly along the property line of the Shady Oaks condominium association. The freeholders of Monmouth County may soon see before them this highly undesirable concept and slightly narrower immediate proposal now contemplated in an application to the county for a grant to support continued planning. This is planning that can only assault the property value of Middletown citizens, providing at cost to these Middletowners a special amenity to a minority. The Shadow Lakes residents as well as owners in Shady Oaks and all others in northeast Lincroft will be the losers as township leaders continue their planning.
This disfigurement of Middletown needs the attention of your newspaper and merits condemnation for the outlandish scale of the concept — and for the secrecy with which civic leaders have apparently pursued their concept. We believe that Middletown authorities should withdraw a grant application to the county that would sustain this misguided planning and, failing that, that the freeholders should reject any grant application.
Suzanne and Blanchard Hiatt
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