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Baseball Field Rehabilitation Raises Questions

SOUTH AMBOY – R-54-2012, a resolution that will rehabilitate four local baseball fields in South Amboy, was the topic of discussion at the last council meeting on February 15th.

The resolution, which will be enabled by the state’s Green Acres Program, will completely recover the three baseball fields near South Amboy High School plus Veteran’s Field within the next year. Each location will receive new grass, fences, dugouts, and flagpoles plus maintenance around the area.

“We are looking to renovate the area and make it a great complex again, something that would be help the city of South Amboy,” Mayor Fred Henry told the public. “We look forward to fixing them up and potentially see more activities like tournaments and such to get people to come into our city.”

The total cost of the project will be $900,000, but the city will seek a 25 percent match from Green Acres and another 50 percent match from Middlesex County. Despite a potential 75 percent support, resident Vince Mackiel believed it should have been covered in the school redevelopment plans years ago.

“A few years ago we had a redevelopment plan for all the public schools, so why wasn’t this included in those plans instead of a separate funding plan?” Mackiel asked the council. “Why are we strictly going through Green Acres for funding, and how long is it going to take for them to make something happen?”

The council explained that the money would be supplied within the next year and that the ball fields were not included in the school reform because they are all city owned. Resident Tom Cross did not question how long it would take but why it was costing so much to fix four fields in the area.

“I just feel $900,000 is a lot of money for four fields,” Cross said. “Are these fields going to be agricultural or synthetic, and where is all that money going?”

The council confirmed that the fields would all have grass outfields, and the rest of the money would go to the structure of the fields and a new irrigation system that would prevent flooding. The fields will also receive a new sprinkler system to keep the grass green and reduce the amount of watering that had to be done manually.

South Amboy Police Chief Darren Lavigne also made comments during the council meeting, questioning the decision to make the fields all grass. Lavigne believes that some of the fields should have turf installed in the outfield to prevent rainouts and reduce maintenance work.

“The amount of labor that is required by having to cut the grass and rake leaves is intensive, and most of the work is voluntary,” Lavigne said. “Councilman Applegate has done a large amount of the work on these fields, and I just ask that before anything is submitted that this change is considered.”

The Green Acres Program was developed in 1961 to meet New Jersey’s growing recreation and conservation needs. According to the Green Acres website, the program has protected almost 640,000 acres of open space and provided hundreds of recreational facilities in communities around the state.

by Joseph L. Kuchie

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