Town turf field deal
Mayor, SJA Sports Turf LLC’s Umosella sign; $500K from town
HAMMONTON—According to a copy of the “Boyer Avenue Athletic Field Lease Agreement” obtained by The Gazette, the agreement stated the following: “This lease, made on this 8th day of October, 2021, by and between The Town of Hammonton, hereinafter referred to as “Landlord” and SJA Turf Sports LLC, a New Jersey limited liability company, hereinafter referred to as “Tenant.””
The town and SJA Turf Sports LLC agreed to a 25-year lease agreement with a 10-year extension that would have a new turf field built at the publicly-owned Boyer Avenue Athletic Fields, according to the agreement. According to the document, the town would be putting a maximum of $500,000 in taxpayer funding toward the project and “Tenant Improvements” could cost in excess of $1.5 million at the facility.
Read the entire Boyer Avenue Athletic Field Lease Agreement:
The agreement includes the town of Hammonton (listed in the agreement under “if to landlord” with the address “Town of Hammonton Office of the Mayor 100 Central Avenue, Hammonton, NJ 08037) and a company named SJA Turf Sports LLC (the contact information of which is included in the agreement under “If to tenant” as: “SJA Turf Sports LLC Attn: Jeffrey G. Umosella” with a residential address in Hammonton.)
The location of the field being leased for the new turf field being built by the town and SJA Turf Sports LLC is Field No. 4, which is a lighted field, according to the agreement.
The first section of the agreement outlines who will be using the new facility.
“The premises are to be used primarily as Athletic Fields for St. Joseph Academy sports, but Tenant [SJA Turf Sports LLC] may use the premises for other sports-related activities only. No other use shall be conducted on the leased premises without prior written consent of the Landlord [town of Hammonton],” the agreement reads.
Other uses are also outlined for the new turf field in the agreement.
“Tenant understands, acknowledges and agrees that all Hammonton Youth Organizations shall have the right to use the premises on the terms set forth in this Lease. However, the Parties agree that should a conflict arise between a Hammonton Youth Organization and St. Joseph Academy or Tenant regarding the use of Field No. 4, Saint Joseph Academy and Tenant shall have priority over all scheduling and use of Field No. 4 only from Monday through Friday and Hammonton Youth Organizations or other Landlord authorized user shall have priority over all scheduling and use of Field No. 4 only on Saturday and Sunday during the term of this lease. The scheduling and use of Field No. 4 for both Saint Joseph Academy, Tenant, Hammonton Youth Organizations or other Landlord authorized user shall be handled by Town Recreation Leader Denise Mazzeo and thereafter her successor,” the agreement reads.
Later in the document, the terms of what the town will be paying for with its $500,000 are outlined.
“…Landlord [town] shall make available to Tenant [SJA Turf Sports LLC] a maximum of Five Hundred Thousand Dollars ($500,000.00) (the “Tenant Improvement Allowance”) to be used solely for the following purposes: a. All engineering and professional expenses related to the Tenant improvements; b. Expenses related to the application and obtainment of any permits and governmental approvals (i.e. Pinelands, Green Acres, Town of Hammonton) required for the construction of the Tenant improvements; and c. Purchase, installation and construction of Tenant Improvements which constitute permanent improvements to the premises and include, but are not limited to: (i) excavation of the existing grass soccer field; (ii) construction of stormwater management and storage under the new turf field; (iii) installation of the new turf field; and (iv) installation of bleachers for the turf field.,” the agreement reads.
The agreement also includes the following paragraph:
“Tenant understands, acknowledges and agrees that the Tenant Improvements could cost in excess of One Million Five Hundred Thousand Dollars ($1,500,000.00), that the Tenant Improvement Allowance is insufficient to defray the entire cost of the items referred to in 2.02(a-c) above, and that the balance for the Tenant Improvements shall be paid entirely by Tenant [SJA Turf Sports LLC]. Landlord has no obligation to pay more than $500,000.00 towards the Tenant Improvements under any circumstances.”
According to the document, the Tenant’s obligation to pay Base Rent or Rent commenced on October 15, 2021. The rent will be paid to the Landlord [town]. The minimum rent will be $10 per month ($120.00 annually), the document reads.
The agreement is signed by two separate individuals for two separate entities. Under “LANDLORD Town of Hammonton” the agreement is signed by Mayor Stephen DiDonato, dated October 8, 2021. Under “TENANT: SJA Turf Sports LLC” the agreement is signed by Jeffrey G. Umosella, Manager, dated October 6, 2021.
Umosella is also the St. Joseph Academy Chairman of the Board, according to a release with the following quote from him issued on October 12.
“Through our partnership with the Town of Hammonton, the new turf field will greatly improve the playing experience for SJA’s student-athletes and Hammonton’s youth athletes,” Umosella said in the release.
During an interview with The Gazette on October 14, DiDonato explained why the town made the deal, which, according to the agreement, is between the town of Hammonton and SJA Turf Farm LLC.
“We negotiated that deal out to get joint use of the field … Mayor DiDonato wanted a turf field for the town,” DiDonato said on October 14.
Also during the interview with The Gazette on October 14, The Gazette asked DiDonato why the $500,000 in taxpayer money from the town that is in the agreement was not spoken about in public council meetings prior to October 14.
“The taxpayers will know that. When you’re negotiating these deals, you can’t just put everything out front … There’s a lot of negotiations that go on,” DiDonato said on October 14.
“We’re announcing a new joint venture with Jeff Umosella and St. Joe Academy to bring a turf field, a turf field to Hammonton. The turf field will enable St. Joe to play Monday through Friday when the town does not use the fields, and the town will have it Saturday and Sunday ... It’s a project that’s probably about a million-and-a-half dollars — 1.5 million, but Saint Joe Academy and Jeff Uomsella will bear the cost of a million dollars, and the taxpayers will bear the other cost of 500,000,” DiDonato said on October 17.
In addition, the mayor said the following during his online message.
“It will be a wonderful addition to Parks and Recs in Hammonton,” DiDonato said on October 17.
During his remarks on October 17, DiDonato recognized Councilmen Steven Furgione and Sam Rodio for their roles in the project, citing Furgione for negotiating the deal.