To the Editor:
Let me just begin by saying in the 23 years as a Verona resident, I have never written a letter to the editor or publically voiced my opinion about any topic. This is my first. I moved to this beautiful town of Verona as a soon to be newlywed. Many factors influenced our decision to move here, the most important one being the outstanding school system.
A lot has changed in the last 23 years: we’ve expanded our house, we had 3 children, and our taxes have gone up. I do not love paying high taxes, but I do know that’s the price for living in Essex county and having the some of the amenities that we have. For example, our town pool is by far the BEST pool in the area. My kids have all swam for Verona Waves and I am filled with pride when we host home swim meets. It is, in my opinion, the gem of the town. My pride quickly plummets, however, when we host a home band competition, football game, wrestling match, basketball game or baseball game.
If you take a look at our schools, particularly our high school, which should be the cream of the crop, you will see that our high school is at a level that is considered to be quite substandard. I know there is a lot of talk that we are looking at a “field of dreams” and that some people feel the improvements of our school are nice, but not necessary. I understand your concerns but respectfully disagree. I consider heat above 60 degrees in the winter to be a fundamental part of a positive learning environment. I consider a field where children’s faces come within inches of geese feces which litter the lower field to be necessary to rectify, as well as a safety concern. I would consider bleachers in a gym that bend when you step on them to be a safety issue that needs addressing. I would consider a band room that has a maximum capacity of 80 students to be inadequate when we have 120 band students. And I would consider that a town like Verona, who once held a ranking of 3 in the top 25 places to live in NJ, would upgrade the technology in their schools to stay competitive in those rankings.
Years ago, we as a town voted down improvements to the fields and, as a result, the condition of these fields are worse than ever. My children were on that field at the time the incident occurred. Players and workers who fell in the sink holes could have been seriously injured. The results could have been tragic. How can we not do something about this? It would be irresponsible to vote this referendum down.
I have pride in my home and I want the pride restored in my town. For those who live close to the field and are concerned about the lights, I understand your concerns. I live right off of Pompton Ave. When I moved here I expected noise from the avenue and cut through traffic. There is a level of inconvenience when you move to certain areas. It would be naïve of me to think that changes in traffic patterns would not occur after doing research in my neighborhood. For example, if the town decided I could no longer make a left hand turn out of my street, it would be silly of me to fight that just because it may cause me inconvenience. Sometimes we have to do what is best for the overall community and not just what is best for a fraction of the individuals in the town. I feel this is one of those times.
I do not want to tell you how to vote, but I ask that you attend the remaining of Mr. Forte’s meetings and become informed about this referendum and what it will do for maintaining the quality standards that Verona was once known for. I urge the younger generation of the town, the 18-25 year olds to exercise your right to vote and take this opportunity to make a difference. Many of you have reaped the benefits of a quality education and you are the future of this town.
One more note…I would gladly pay an extra fifty cents a day to have the property I own maintain its value. Once the schools start to decline, so do our property values. I plan to stay in our wonderful town long after my children have grown. Please do what’s necessary and right for our community to regain its status a one of the most desirable towns to live in in NJ.
If not now Verona, then when?
–Donna and Charlie Giuliano
There will be just one more information session on Wednesday, March 5, at 7 p.m. in the H.B. Whitehorne Middle School auditorium.