By Ron Leir
NORTH ARLINGTON –
An ambitious upgrade of playing fields at Riverside County Park is proceeding on schedule, Bergen County Parks Director Ron Kistner said last week.
The long-heralded improvements will benefit the neighboring communities and scholastic athletic teams of Lyndhurst and North Arlington, both of which enjoy the use of recreational space within the borders of the park as it extends along the banks of the Passaic River.
For the North Arlington space, the county is providing a new multi-purpose turf field to accommodate football and soccer with lights, a 6-lane rubberized walking/running track, bleachers that can seat up to 900, one girls’ softball turf field with lights and one girls’ softball natural grass field.
Between the multi-use field and the turf softball field, the contractor will put up a prefab concrete building – which will be raised out of the flood zone – and which will house locker rooms, bathrooms and a concession stand.
And the walking paths outside the fields will be reconfigured.
Applied Landscaping of Montville was retained as the general contractor on the North Arlington job which is expected to cost about $5.4 million.
“The multi-use field turf is down and, next, we’re going to start paving the running track,” Kistner said. “The track sub-base settles for 30 days and then the final rubber coating is applied. The turf softball field is pretty much done,” he added, with the final coat of rubber pellets slated to have been laid down last week.
“The contractor is starting getting the poles ready for the lights. We’ve met with Public Service [Electric & Gas] about running in the electrical service and that’s going along well,” he said.
The multi-use field figures to be “ready for play” by September and the prefab structure should be finished “by sometime in the fall,” Kistner said.
This week, the contractor was expected to being work on the grass softball field.
“We’ll be recommending a permit fee [to be charged for use of the fields] to help defer cost of maintenance,” Kistner said.
Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan has invited borough residents to attend a “Town Hall meeting,” scheduled for June 26 at 7 p.m. at the North Arlington Senior Center, 10 Beaver Ave., behind the Public Library, to learn more about the project.
One longtime observer of athletic events held at the park noted that Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011 – and Sandy in October 2012 – caused massive flooding of the area and the storms brought up a lot of debris onto the fields.
Also, for the last several years, the old playing fields were compromised by goose droppings. “The geese don’t like artificial turf surfaces so the new turf fields should be safer and easier to play on,” he said.
Having lights at the fields will mean that, for the first time, games can be played at night, which should allow softball leagues to extend their seasons, possibly into October, the observer said.
North Arlington High School Athletic Director Dave Hutchinson couldn’t be reached at press time but Ed Abromaitis, athletic director for Queen of Peace High School in North Arlington, said the school will “probably use the multi-purpose field for boys’ and girls’ soccer in the fall, as soon as [the county] gives us the okay. We hope to use one of their softball fields as well.”
“We don’t know yet whether we’ll use the multipurpose field for football,” Abromaitis said. The interscholastic league constitution governing gridiron play for Queen of Peace calls for a shelter/locker room facility for the two opposing teams to be provided – and it appears that condition will be satisfied by the county.
Queen of Peace has been playing its home football games at Harrison High School’s field.
Based on what Abromaitis has heard, the county will be collecting a flat fee of $150 for either a football or soccer practice or a game or $225 for a night game. “We’re hoping to rent, but naturally, if you practice every day [Monday to Friday], you’re looking at like $800. We can’t afford that.” Using the facility for nine home games in a 16- game season schedule might be acceptable, but the fee for officials would also have to be factored in, he said.
“For baseball,” Abromaitis said, “we’re hoping to use Breslin Field in Lyndhurst.”
At Breslin Field, the county has installed a new turf baseball diamond with new lighting, along with two prefab concrete buildings, one at the field that’s two levels with a press box upstairs and concessions and bathrooms below; the other outside the right field area which contains bathrooms. Both are elevated out of the flood zone, Kistner said.
Turco Golf of Washington Township in Warren County was the low bidder on the job with a price of $2.4 million.