Wed April 3, 7p @ Westfield Town Hall Room 425 E. Broad St
Westfield Soccer Association members: Happy Winter on behalf of the Association and the Fields/Operations Committee. The purpose of this email is to bring to your attention and to the forefront the current fields situation that the WSA will be dealing with this upcoming Spring, but also in the short term future.
When you take a look at the WSA membership, there are over 2,400 participants each year across multiple different programs - Rec, Intercounty, Travel and UCFC. Obviously with this multitude of programs and players comes an immense need for field space and time, both of which come at a premium in Westfield.
When given the opportunity, under normal circumstances, the WSA takes full advantage of usage on Sid Fey/Houlihan fields, currently the only Turf Field Complex within Westfield. This Turf Complex and the scheduling allotment is managed by the Town of Westfield with time split between the WSA and other sports organizations that have a need for turf field usage. Once the WSA utilizes its allotment of time on these fields, we do our best to spread teams and programs across other fields - either within town and sometimes outside Westfield.
As you know, the majority of the fields that the WSA uses within town are grass surfaces that are subject to the mood of Mother Nature and are also used by other organizations. Unfortunately, due to increased usage each season by the WSA and other organizations, the conditions of these grass fields are often less than ideal and with a full schedule of practices and games to allocate, it often requires the WSA to have out-of-town options available to ensure we are able to fulfill the needs of the club across all of our programming.
Often, at the expense of the WSA, through established relationships and competitive bidding amongst other programs in the area, the WSA has become a preferred partner to many surrounding towns and facilities that offer us the opportunity to lease supplemental field time to cover our extensive field needs. Once again this is not an ideal situation, but a necessary solution given the needs of the WSA. Additionally, the need and demand for this supplemental field time requires proactive budgeting and fees that are above and beyond those allocated for day to day running of the club.
Many of the WSA U9 & U10 Travel and Intercounty teams have called the Garwood Sports Complex their home field over recent seasons, escalating this Fall with a significant increase in time and additional expenditure by the WSA. Additional expenses above the per player usage fee the WSA pays to the Westfield Recreation Department per Fall/Spring seasons, are made to secure Wardlaw Hartridge School in Edison Township for Turf fields and Indoor space. Additionally, financial commitments to other facilities have allowed the WSA the ability to accommodate most team activities.
However, options are becoming more scarce as the competition for space though more aggressive bidding from neighboring towns and clubs increases, potentially limiting usage by the WSA. As such, future consideration to diminish team training time and/or cancel programming is becoming a major concern.
Next, we turn our eyes towards the Town of Westfield and the ongoing work to improve the fields in town. Brandstetter Carroll, the consultant firm that specializes in design work for parks and fields that has been selected by the Town Council, has initiated its work on the Master Plan Reexamination. It is anticipated that the firm will complete the development of its Parks and Recreation Master Plan by September of 2019 at which point there will be an alignment and selection of a specific plan to move forward with for Tamaques Park and other fields within town. It is unknown how long it will take and what the anticipated completion date is for the execution of the Master Plan, however what is now known, as of Monday, February 11, is that there will be an opportunity for the residents of Westfield to provide Public Opinion and Input on the Master Plan Reexamination.
Per the Master Plan Reexamination website, "a key component of the Master Plan Reexamination is hearing from the public and capturing as much input as possible to guide the Town’s vision for the next ten years. We encourage all residents to get involved, participate and help shape an exciting future for Westfield."
The WSA is calling on all its members to make their voice heard. We need your help to let it be known that we are not satisfied with the current fields situation within our town. Above and beyond the WSA, we have great sports programs within Westfield, programs that give this town a sense of family - what the WSA and other programs need are fields that live up to the same standards as the programs that use them.
The WSA needs its entire membership to log in to the Westfield Master Plan Reexamination Survey AND also the Westfield Parks & Recreation Strategic Plan and provide direct feedback on your view of the facilities within town - change cannot happen without feedback and action on our behalf.
Additionally, there will be Community Workshops where residents, business owners and other interested people have the opportunity to participate in the planning process. These Community Workshops for the public will be held on the following dates:
The WSA encourages its members to attend and actively participate in these meetings - your voice can help shape the decisions that are made surrounding the parks and fields of Westfield.
Finally, as many WSA members may already know and have seen by the ongoing work, the turf field, surrounding track and bleachers at Kehler Field (field at Edison) will be replaced starting April 1, leaving the High School Varsity and Junior Varsity teams in need of practice and game locations. The WSA anticipates a significant impact to field time at Sid Fey/Houlihan, specifically Weekdays from 3-7pm, as this time will be allocated to the High School athletic teams. This will leave the WSA (along with Westfield Lacrosse) searching for alternate options for our Spring programming. As such, the scheduling of Spring practices and Rec programming has been more of a challenge than in past seasons. We ask that you bear with the WSA as schedules get filled out and know that the WSA will be working hard to minimize disruption as best as possible given less field space to work with, however the possibility exists that Travel and Rec teams may utilize field space outside the confines of Westfield for practices and timing of Rec programming may shift based on allocated field time.
As always, we value and appreciate our WSA membership and appreciate your diligence in helping to make your voices heard as we work with the Town of Westfield to make our fields and park space better.
We encourage any interested members to join us at our March General Membership meeting and/or reach out to Eric Judka (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.
Thank you for your time and more importantly your voice,
WSA VP, Fields/Operations