Student Mark Meiler holds a protest sign June 1, worried about plans to expand Watchung Field into the area currently occupied by the Watching Elementary School playground. The plan has been postponed, parents say they were told. (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)

I write in my capacity as a parent of current Watchung Elementary first and fourth graders, and a future kindergartener beginning next year, although I am also an attorney.

It has come to my attention that the interests and needs of the Watchung students were not adequately considered in the current plans to expand Watchung Field used by high school athletics programs and renovate the adjoining elementary school playground. As was made abundantly clear during the public comment portion of the June 2 Board of Education meeting, there is a major disconnect in understanding as to the specifications, size, design and purpose of the field among community members.

While we all understand that great time and expense has been invested in the current plan, and that pausing and changing now will likely significantly increase that cost, such costs are justified by the need to make the right decision and do the work correctly.

Parents: We were blindsided by plan to start expanding field




So many strong speakers at the board meeting used excellent phrasing — “measure twice, cut once,” etc. At this point, we just ask that the board not push through action that could negatively impact generations of Watchung students to come.

Accordingly, we ask schools Superintendent Jonathan Ponds and the board, please delay the start of the current renovation project to take the time necessary to work cooperatively with the Watchung parents and find a solution that balances the interests of the Watchung students with those in the community pushing for the excessive field expansion. While we understand this planning has been underway for quite some time, it seems earlier efforts to intervene by the Watchung community were unsuccessful.

We appreciate that we now have Dr. Pond’s and the board’s attention, and that they are listening.

Michael Koueiter
Montclair


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