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."