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CDC says Study on Safety of “Crumb Rubber” Could Take Two More Years


the staff of the Ridgewood blog

‘Ridgewood NJ, in 2015 and 20016 Three federal agencies are teaming up to investigate the safety of crumb rubber artificial turf used in playing fields and playground all across the country,the investigation was the subject of a series on NBC News .NBC reported that the “The Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced an “action plan” on Friday to answer questions raised about synthetic turf made from recycled tires and possible risks for young athletes.”

Continue reading CDC says Study on Safety of “Crumb Rubber” Could Take Two More Years
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Turf Town 2.0

photo by Boyd Loving

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, on April 29 meeting, the Ridgewood Board of Education voted to again install a rubber crumb based field turf at RHS Field Stadium . In the usual method the Board made its decision without open discussions with residents, vendors ,students  and healthcare and environmental professionals.Crumb Rubber fill is basically ground up car tires .

Continue reading Turf Town 2.0
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Reader say, “pro teams when asked what surface they prefer to play on, choose grass”


“So grass is unrealistic? We played on it for years and something upwards of 90 percent of professional players [soccer,baseball, football ] prefer grass to artificial turf. We have a bigger problem in Ridgewood. We put turf in active floodplains. It was not made for that. Environmentally it is a disaster. Financially, it is more costly to install and to maintain. It needs to be sanitized which they left out of the scenario when they decided to sell us on it. “

“Multi use is not a benefit of artificial turf. More playing time was considered the benefit. However, not in an active flood plain. It is environmentally unfriendly, needs much maintenance, is not ideal for children’s health and safety,etc. Today’s hearty grass blends that are drought and pest resistant also make it the fiscally responsible thing to do. In addition, all pro teams when asked what surface they prefer to play on, choose grass.”

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Reader Defends the Turf


” We’re talking about what was some of the most exclusive real estate in the village, which from August through December was restricted for use solely by the RHS football team and the marching band, and when the grass was damp, even the marching band was kicked off (while the football team and its opponent enthusiastically chewed up the field to within an inch of its life). After Christmas and New Year’s, during the late winter and early spring, literally everyone was banned from using the field so that it could recover from the yearly fall trampling. Of course, this allowed the field to be re-seeded, fertilized, watered, and otherwise expensively pampered in preparation for the famous RHS graduation ceremony. By late June, the grass was admittedly beautiful, and certainly soft beneath the feet of girl graduates in their flowing white dresses who, in accordance with decades of tradition, tended to take off their shoes during the ceremony. That said, net-net, making the RHS football field a multi-use field by turfing it was a good decision. So many more students and other people have now had the benefit of its use, it’s not even a close question. “

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Rutherford Voters Reject Proposed $53M Vanity Schools Referendum

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Rutherford NJ, according to Matthew Gibson,  this referendum was not to “fix schools” it was to make superficial changes like a taxpayer funded turf field for lacrosse and do things which would not affect education at all.

Gibson commented ,”They wanted to spend $53 million, of which about approximately $0 was for education. $5 million to literally bulldoze the high school poll, another $5 million to replace it with a new cafeteria. $2.5 million to turf some open space behind the HS, $3+ million to remove a playground and my personal favorite building new chemistry labs without windows which is totally safe”

Referendum Rejected

Dear Parents, Students, Faculty, and Staff,

The Rutherford community has voted to reject the proposed $53M referendum to improve our school facilities. While this is a disappointing result, we still need to provide adequate space for our growing enrollment and create environments to support our students academically. We will examine our plan to determine if there is a less encompassing alternative that could still give us more classroom space and make the district compliant with federal and state mandates, even if it does not fulfill all of our needs.

Thank you to all of the voters who became informed and supported the proposal.


Jack Hurley, Superintendent of Schools

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RHS athletic field and Stevens Field closed until further notice

photos courtesy of Boyd Loving

August 5,2018

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, RHS athletic field and Stevens Field closed until further notice!

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Village of Ridgewood Moves Forward on Maple Field Replacement


September 8th 2017

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ. the Maple Park turf field is in need of a major update , the Village will apply to Bergen County Open Space funding for the 50/50 matching grant to replace the turf at Maple Field. The Village plans to use Bergen County Open space funds, Village open space funds and money from the capital budget . The decision has been made to replace the 12 year old field due to is heavy use and deteriorated condition.

Resident Boyd Loving asked if the Village expected to receive any money from the class action suite filed against the manufacturing over the fields not living up to their expected life span? Village Attorney Matt Rogers explained that there were on going talks with Field Turf to defray costs of a replacement field and will be made public when negotiations are concluded .

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Former Birdsall Executive Pleads Guilty for His Role in Scheme to Evade New Jersey Pay-To-Play Laws


Former Birdsall Executive Pleads Guilty for His Role in Scheme to Evade Pay-To-Play Laws With Illegal Political Contributions  All nine individuals charged in the case – and the engineering firm itself – have now pleaded guilty

July 8,2017
the staff of the Ridgewood blog

TRENTON NJ,  Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino announced that a former executive and shareholder of Birdsall Services Group (“BSG”) pleaded guilty today to participating in a criminal scheme in which more than $1 million in corporate political contributions were illegally made through firm employees to evade New Jersey’s pay-to-play laws. Nine former executives, shareholders and managers of BSG have pleaded guilty in the scheme, along with the engineering firm itself, which is no longer in business.

Alan Hilla, 77, of Jupiter, Fla., pleaded guilty today to a charge of second-degree misconduct by a corporate official before Superior Court Judge Wendel E. Daniels in Ocean County. Under the plea agreement, the state will recommend that he be sentenced to five years in state prison. Hilla indicated he plans to apply for a suspended sentence, citing health issues. Hilla is the final defendant in the case against BSG and nine of its top executives, shareholders and employees. Judge Daniels scheduled sentencing for September 1, 2017 at 10 AM.

Deputy Attorney General Anthony A. Picione, Chief of the Corruption Bureau, and Deputy Attorneys General Mallory Shanahan, Brian Faulk and Charles Wright are prosecuting the case and took the guilty plea for the Division of Criminal Justice. The charge was contained in a March 26, 2013 indictment, which also charged BSG and six other executives and shareholders. Two other defendants pleaded guilty pre-indictment. The charges stemmed from an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau, which found that the defendants conspired to avoid the restrictions of New Jersey’s Pay-to-Play laws by disguising illegal corporate political contributions as personal contributions of employees.

“The many guilty pleas we have secured in this case hammer home an important message that criminal schemes aimed at evading New Jersey’s pay-to-play laws will be met with stern punishment,” said Attorney General Porrino. “Our laws prevent politically connected firms from garnering public contracts based on campaign contributions, but Birdsall’s executives gamed the system and secured millions of dollars in contracts for which they should have been disqualified.”

“My office recently announced two anti-corruption programs – a reward program offering up to $25,000 for tips about public corruption, as well as a whistleblower program that allows lower-level participants in a corruption scheme to potentially avoid prosecution by self-reporting,” Attorney General Porrino added. “I urge people to help us and help themselves by taking advantage of these programs, which expire on August 1.”

“New Jersey’s pay-to-play laws seek to ensure fair and open public contracting, free of the sway of political interests,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “By criminally prosecuting this firm and sending many of its top executives to prison, we have given those laws real teeth.”

Individuals may report information and apply for the Anti-Corruption Reward Program or Anti-Corruption Whistleblower Program by August 1 by one of the following methods:

Call the DCJ hotline 866-TIPS-4CJ to speak with detectives 24 hours/7 days a week; or

Visit to submit an online report.

BSG pleaded guilty on June 13, 2013 to charges of first-degree money laundering and second-degree making false representations for government contracts. As a result of its plea, BSG paid two major criminal penalties: a $500,000 public corruption profiteering penalty and a $500,000 anti-money laundering profiteering penalty. In each instance, the penalty was the maximum amount authorized by law. BSG also paid the state $2.6 million to settle a civil forfeiture action filed by the Attorney General’s Office in connection with the criminal case.

Eight other executives, shareholders and managers of the Birdsall firm previously pleaded guilty:

On April 22, 2016, Howard Birdsall, formerly CEO and largest shareholder of BSG, was sentenced to four years in prison on a charge of second-degree misconduct by a corporate official. He paid $49,808 to the state in forfeiture of his illegal political contributions.

On June 10, 2016, Thomas Rospos, formerly executive vice president of BSG and its second largest shareholder, was sentenced to three years in prison on a charge of third-degree tampering with public records or information. He paid $150,000 in forfeiture of his illegal contributions.

On July 11, 2016, William Birdsall, formerly senior vice president and a large shareholder of BSG, was sentenced to 270 days in the county jail and two years of probation on a charge of third-degree misconduct by a corporate official. He paid $129,115 in forfeiture of his illegal contributions, as well as a $75,000 public corruption profiteering penalty.

On June 2, Robert Gerard, 56, of Wall, N.J., former Chief Marketing Officer for BSG, was sentenced to 270 days in the county jail and two years of probation on a fourth-degree charge of making prohibited corporate political contributions through employees. He forfeited $86,200.

James Johnston, 55, of New Brunswick, N.J., former President of the Environmental Services Group within BSG, was sentenced to 270 days in the county jail and two years of probation on a fourth-degree charge of making prohibited corporate political contributions through employees. He forfeited $93,720.

On Jan. 6, 2016, Scott MacFadden, former chief administrative officer of BSG, pleaded guilty to third-degree misconduct by a corporate official. He faces a recommended sentence of up to 364 days in jail and a term of probation. He must pay $30,000 in forfeiture of his contributions.

On Nov. 30, 2012, Philip Angarone, the former marketing director for BSG, pleaded guilty to third-degree tampering with public records or information and fourth-degree making prohibited corporate political contributions through employees. He is awaiting sentencing and faces a sentence of up to 364 days in jail and a term of probation. He must forfeit $26,775.

On Feb. 12, 2013, Eileen Kufahl, a former marketing manager for Birdsall, pleaded guilty to a fourth-degree charge of making prohibited corporate contributions through employees. She forfeited $17,119 and was admitted into the Pre-Trial Intervention Program.

Under the alleged scheme, instead of Birdsall Services Group making corporate political contributions to campaigns and political organizations that would disqualify it from public contracts awarded by certain government agencies, shareholders and employees of the firm made personal political contributions of $300 or less, which are deemed unreportable. Multiple personal checks were bundled together at Birdsall Services Group and sent to the appropriate campaign or political organization. The shareholders and employees were then illegally reimbursed by Birdsall Services Group, directly or indirectly, through added bonus payments, and the firm falsely omitted the illegally reimbursed contributions in documents filed with the Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) and with government agencies that awarded the firm engineering services contracts. The scheme continued for more than six years and involved more than $1 million in contributions.

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Complexity and confusion about the law may have discouraged contractors from contributing directly to candidates and parties last year

For more than a decade, New Jersey’s pay-to-play laws have provided a check on businesses’ ability to contribute money to politicians in the hope of getting a government contract in return.

Last year, political contributions by public contractors dropped to the second-lowest level since restrictions took effect, according to a report released by the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission earlier this month. The $8.1 million in contributions from businesses was 11 percent lower than in 2015 and less than half the high of $16.4 million reported in 2007.

Jeff Brindle, ELEC’s executive director, said the lack of gubernatorial or legislative elections in 2016 may account for some of the decline, but the complexity of the law is also discouraging contractors from contributing directly to candidates and parties.

Under pay-to-play laws, all businesses that have $50,000 or more in public contracts and have made political contributions must disclose both contract and contribution details to ELEC by March 30th of the previous year. There are some exceptions, but most firms with state contracts totaling $17,500 or more cannot give more than $300 to candidates, political parties, and legislative leadership committees. A business that violates the prohibitions must either ask for a refund of any excess contribution promptly or relinquish its contracts for four years.

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N.J. Senate hearing to probe alleged fraud by top U.S. turf company


By Christopher Baxter and Matthew Stanmyre | NJ Advance Media for
on January 24, 2017 at 5:07 PM, updated January 24, 2017 at 5:11 PM

A state Senate panel will hold a hearing Monday on a report that the leading maker of artificial sports fields in the U.S., FieldTurf, for years sold a popular line of turf to taxpayers across the country after knowing it was falling apart.

The hearing, scheduled for 1 p.m. in Trenton before the Senate Commerce Committee, comes in response to an NJ Advance Media investigation published in December that called into question whether the company had committed fraud.

“This is a first step in our effort to determine exactly what happened and to take the action necessary at the state level to ensure that taxpayers are protected,” the chairwoman of the committee, Sen. Nellie Pou (D-Passaic), said in a statement.

She called the findings of the investigation “incredibly concerning.” The company has denied any wrongdoing.

The committee will hear testimony from FieldTurf executives, school officials and others who have been invited to testify, the statement said.