Hardyston council to consider 51% waiver

Township to discuss letting teams play even if they don't have enough town residents


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Soccer moms — not to mention dads, grandparents, friends, neighbors and even a few children — gathered at the Hardyston Municipal Building on Wednesday evening with one simple objective in mind: to be sure the Town Council approves a waiver so every child in the township who wants to play soccer has a chance to play.

The council decided to take the parents' concerns into account to leave the 51 percent clause, but with a provision for a waiver so that all children in Wallkill Valley will have an opportunity to play soccer if they desire.

The sprawling athletic fields and track atop the rolling hills adjacent to The Hardyston Municipal Building beckon the community in the interest of health, wellness, and recreation. Today, township guidelines call for its athletic teams to be comprised of at least 51 percent Hardyston residents. However, as the recreational programs matured — particularly the soccer program — the community is discovered that while it has enough children from the core Walkill Valley community to form a team, Hardyston kids may not make up the full 51 percent.

"With our shared services agreement, the towns of Hardyston, and boroughs of Franklin, Hamburg and Ogdensburg all get to share in the fun," Hardyston Mayor Stanley Kula said. "We shouldn't risk not allowing all kids who want to play an opportunity to do so because the population of a team may not be 51 percent Hardyston residents

"Our children are our greatest resource and are important members of the community," Township Manager Marianne Smith said.

After a briefing from Smith followed by a few words from the President of the Wallkill Valley Travel Soccer Club, Steve Bilheimer, the mayor and council members agreed they would take the discussion into account for formal action. That decision prompted a brief applause from those who had gathered specifically to discuss the topic.

"Every day when I drive up over the rise from Route 94, I see the beauty of our town, I see how far we've come, and I feel such pride," said Councilwoman Leslie G. Hamilton, who has served the community for more 20 years.

"The people have the most impact, and are effective at finding creative ways to utilize our resources," Deputy Mayor Carl Miller said. "This is one example of the community spirit here, of us working together for the benefit of all and the amazing quality of life we have here."

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