Thoughts on the Pickleball Change Order & Public Comment

Read a summary of the meeting on Hainesport Democrats

Pickleball Change Order

Pickleball Change Order
Waiting in the Lobby

Committeeman Fitzpatrick is correct that former Administrator Leo Selb should not have okayed the Pickleball change order, assuming it was for more than $2000, without authorization. However, the situation may be more complex than that.

Fault also lies with whoever assessed the topsoil to be six inches thick rather than two feet. Was this Alaimo Group or Command Co. LLC? Either way, the problem was discovered after construction work had already started. The issue then became, should everyone down tools and wait for a special meeting to be convened to approve the change order? Did Alaimo Group have input into the decision to proceed? Were any township committee members informed of the need for a change order? Note: we also still don’t know the amount of the change order. How much more than $2000 was it? It’s quite possible that doing things that way could not only have delayed the completion of the Pickleball Courts, but also could have ended up costing the township more, because of the downtime.

It seems to me that this is the kind of problem which, if the township were functioning smoothly, could either have been avoided or navigated with far less fuss and recrimination.

New Public Comment Format

While the Committee are within their rights to set up Public Comment/Committee Comment in any way they see fit, they need to be careful about the optics of the measures they continue to introduce. They also need to consider how closely they are skirting state “sunshine” laws, such as OPRA.

The Committee are elected officials who represent all Hainesport, not just those who voted for, and agree with them. Opposition is a cornerstone of Democracy—it keeps our elected officials honest! Yet I sometimes feel our Hainesport Republicans would prefer that the Democrats and other critics simply didn’t attend meetings! I certainly feel that our concerns are not listened to, and our people are disrespected. The new Public Comment format makes the adversarial nature of the current political divide worse, not better. The fact that there is now NO mechanism for constructive debate is unhealthy.

My biggest issue with the committee is perhaps how secretive they are. I understand that they are responsible for the decision-making, but why do they have to keep residents so much in the dark? Why can’t we know how much the Pickleball change order was for? Why don’t they do more to publicize meetings, especially Special Meetings? Why can’t we ask questions and engage in rational debate with them when they respond? Answers naturally give rise to more questions, and the new format frustrates our natural desire to have our issues resolved in a timely fashion.

On the positive side, I would like to commend Deputy Mayor Masciocchi for the independent spirit he showed last night in agreeing with me that the new format should not be enforced selectively. It is not okay for the Committee to interact with a resident asking about building a garage, but not with a resident asking about the possibility of a town hall debate forum.

If both residents are asking respectfully, both deserve the courtesy of an answer. And I would like to ask the Committee respectfully to reconsider their new approach to Public Comment.


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