By Linda G. Rastelli
Residents who live near Fair Haven Fields complained last night to the Fair Haven borough council about the likelihood of increased traffic through a quiet neighborhood resulting from work now underway at the recreation site.

Also on their list of gripes: construction noise and ugly parking-lot lighting fixtures.

“Do we need additional fields? What was the problem with parking before?” Ken Laughinghouse of Dartmouth Avenue asked. Besides, he said, the plan now being put into effect “looks like crap. It’s taking away from the character of the town.”

Kim Brown of Gentry Drive said she was worried about teenagers speeding through her neighborhood. Stuart Tartarone, also of Gentry Drive, called the fields “an accident waiting to happen.”

Mayor Mike Halfacre defended the need for the project, which calls for the creation of a new, 100-space parking lot with storm drainage and lighting, as well as additional ballfields.

The existing fields, he said, are “woefully overused. They’re in bad shape and we need to work on them. There are over 1,000 kids in town using the fields.”

Dr. Dominick Grosso of Dartmouth Avenue presented a petition to the council for reconsideration of its plans. He said it took minimal effort to get signatures, though he didn’t say how many he’d gotten.

“I want to appeal to the council’s good sense. So much earth is being moved that my house is shaking. Please re-examine the work in progress,” he said.

The proposed lighting fixtures are “an eyesore,” he added, and called for “larger and more plantings,” increased police patrols, and a solid fence along the parking area instead of the split-rail one that’s planned. “There’s too much noise and a solid fence would block the view,” he said.

[redbankgreen was confused about the street names being bandied about, because different maps refer to the street nearest the fields as both Gentry Drive or Dartmouth Avenue. Also, there’s a Dartmouth Avenue on the opposite side of Hance Road that crosses east toward the fields. So Halfacre offered this explanation, via email today:

The new access will be entirely from Dartmouth, the current access on Ridge will be closed. (Is Closed)

Gentry Drive comes in off of Third Street, and meets Dartmouth where Dartmouth comes in from Hance Road. The continuation of the road after the Gentry/Dartmouth intersection is Dartmouth, but a lot of people think it is Gentry.

OK, so we’re not crazy. Anyway…]

Halfacre conceded that egress was the biggest problem with the plan, and said he was looking into improving it and having more of a buffer installed.

“I’m getting dozens of emails and being stopped in the Acme about this,” he said. “I hear your concerns about traffic and we will address them.”

But the lighting being used is the least intrusive possible and will be turned off by 9p., said the mayor. And to a resident who warned that Fair Haven adults who currently play in other towns would want to use the new fields at night, Halfacre had a simple message: That’s not going to happen.

In other council business:

• Councilman Jon Peters suggested suspending the ordinance restricting outdoor dining for the summer. Le Fandy restaurant and the Nauvoo Grill Club have both expressed interest in putting tables outside, he explained.

Neighbors of the Nauvoo Grill had complained about cigar smoke, said the mayor, but the restaurant owner has come up with a different location for the tables. The town will investigate whether the ordinance can be temporarily suspended.

• A public hearing will be held on June 11 for a newly introduced tree ordinance. Planning board member James Ingall announced his opposition to the law, saying it would require residents to pay a $150 fee and hire “a tree expert” to cut down a tree. “It’s too invasive,” he said.

Resident Barbara Dillon of River Lawn Drive reiterated her previous support for the law by reading a letter to the Asbury Park Press that called trees “the lungs of the earth.”

Halfacre encouraged residents to attend the public hearing. “Come for the fireworks,” he said, in jest.

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