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'Field of Dreams' Keeps Moving Forward

Athletic Field Committee estimates new multi-use facility would cost $1.9 million.

A proposed new multi-use athletic field would cost an estimated $1.9 million, although grants and possible corporate sponsorship could reduce the amount the average New Milford taxpayer would pay, according to discussion at the mayor and council work session Monday night.

Director of Recreation John Bigger reported on the status of the findings of the Athletic Field Committee. 

The Athletic Field Committee had recommended to the mayor and council in February that the David E. Owens Middle School is the location best suited to support a new multi-purpose community field. This field would be a shared service between the borough and the New Milford Board of Education.

The committee is comprised of townspeople, Superintendent of Schools Michael Polizzi, representatives from the Board of Education, NMHS Athletic Director Joe Ricciardelli and football coaches. 

The multi-purpose field would be a turf field and include a soccer, football and baseball field, in addition to two softball fields. 

The approximate cost of the field is an estimated $1.9 million based on $8 per square foot. However, Bigger said that given the state of the economy, there are towns in Bergen County that have put in turf fields for approximately $5 per square foot.

As a next step to firm up the cost of the project, Bigger suggested that the borough engineer perform a test at the Middle School to determine the cost of drainage for the field. Bigger said that must be done before the township and school board can apply for grants to assist with the funding of the field, so that by February 2013 all costs not covered by the grants will be determined.   

In order to be eligible for any grants, the Board of Education and the borough must come up with a lease agreement by Feb. 2013.   

Councilwoman Randi Duffie said that making the Community Field happen "will be a wonderful venture" between the borough and the Board of Education.  

Borough attorney Mark Madaio said that in order to proceed with the writing of the grants there has to be a memorandum of understanding between the borough and the Board of Education, as well as a lease agreement between the two.

The mayor and council discussed that if the borough receives a grant for 75 percent of the cost they will have to fund approximately $600,000, plus the fees to the grant writer.  

Council President Howard Berner asked the borough attorney if corporate sponsorships might be available. Madaio said that he was not sure if a grant would preclude corporate sponsorship and would look into it.   

The council agreed that it would be prudent to obtain a price for the entire project before going further.  

Mary McElroy, a member of the Athletic Field subcommittee, and a taxpayer, said that she wants to know much how the installation of a new field will cost each taxpayer.

McElroy said that if the facility costs taxpayers an additional $50 annually, she believes that they will be okay with it.

"I spend $50 at Burger King with my kids," McElroy said. "I would have no problem forgoing cleats or lunch to have a brand new field that the kids can play on."

McElroy ended by saying, "As my elected officials, I will be asking you where you stand on the financing and bonding of this project. It’s coming out of our pockets and it's something that many of us in town would want to pay for." 

student April 25, 2012 at 02:37 AM
i agree that the field of dreams is an important investment in the lives of future students/children like MYSELF... however, we have to think a lot more carefully about how we handle the situation. i agree completely with concerned student. however, isnt there a significant flood risk involved with the fields behind the borough hall? take a look at this flood plan map: http://www.newmilfordboro.com/attachments/058_NM%20EXT%208.5x11(flood%20plain).pdf practically the whole park is under it. i recall the fields were under water recently. theres really nothing else i can say, no more ideas than the one offered in my previous comment about the UW property. it appears that is really the only ideal land area for this proposed field of dreams.
tony mac May 09, 2012 at 11:43 AM
RE: field of dreams...... Read today's paper. Washington township last night voted NOT to pursue a turf field in their town due to the current financial crisis. Let us hope our mayor and council and board of Ed use common sense and put this towns field of dreams to bed!
Mary McElroy May 09, 2012 at 12:45 PM
Yes, Tony thanks for the update but you should also mention that in September of 2011 this district put in a beautiful new athletic turf complex at the Jr./Senior HS for the benefit of the Washington Township/Westwood Regional School District. So lucky them, they already have a beautiful turf facility. What was proposed & decided against in Washington Township would have been in addition to their new complex - basically another facility to serve their younger/recreational programs. That's certainly much different than what NM is looking to accomplish with a school/municipality shared approach. Most of us would be delighted with one decent nice facility that doesn't flood. In actuality, the existing facilities that they were looking to turf are better than what we currently have. You might want to drive past those fields and also look at their new complex before you compare it to NM.
Jeff Jones November 07, 2012 at 02:24 PM
I just wish parents of New Milford would stop thinking about the cost and start thinking your children and there future.
james November 07, 2012 at 03:30 PM
Jeff that is exactly what most were thinking about when voting NO. They were thinking of the future of paying for a field for a select group and not all the children of NM. They were thinking about the cost and how to show their children that instant gratification usually does not make sense and LONG TERM results are what needs to be looked at bottom line. They were thinking that they could give them a future that would enhance and benefit the whole town.

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