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Issues lingering at Kearny field house

Photos by Ron Leir Views of newly completed field house at Veterans’ Field in Kearny.

Photos by Ron Leir
Views of newly completed field house at Veterans’ Field in Kearny.

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It wasn’t easy but, finally, Kearny’s new field house at Veterans’ Field is finished and ready for business … if you overlook issues with the concession stand.

The new facility was dedicated coincidental with this past Saturday’s Opening Day ceremonies for Kearny Little League baseball, held at Veterans’ Field, which also hosts Kearny Recreation softball and football and men’s baseball at night.

As posted by the town’s web site, the play area now has “a 1,580 sq. ft., state of the art sports facility with a concession stand, ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] accessible upper lever announcer’s booth, baseball and football storage rooms and new bathrooms.”

At the public ceremonies, Mayor Alberto Santos said: “We are very excited to open this environmentally friendly facility just a few days before Earth Day 2013.”

It comes with a green roof and trellis system, a water recycling system for toilets and maintenance-free metal roof and siding – all designed to keep the building cool – and delivered by the contractor for a cost of $750,000, paid for by outside government sources: $483,000 from the Hudson County Open Space trust fund, $158,000 from a federal Energy Efficiency and Conservation block grant and the rest from Community Development Block funds for the ADA component. So far, the town has paid the contractor, UNIMAC of Garfield, $718,875.

Construction began in November 2011 and was due to be ready in time for the start of the football season last fall. It wasn’t. There were delays scheduling work, which proceeded in fits and starts. And there were issues with building materials.

For instance, as Town Administrator Michael Martello explained at a recent Town Council meeting, there was an issue with the cistern (receptatacle that captures rainwater): “It appears that the materials were not according to specifications,” Martello said. “When the pump comes on to feed the toilets, it’s airlocked.”

Still, by Saturday, according to Santos, most pending construction issues had been successfully dealt with but still remaining, he said, was an irksome design issue.

Some of the volunteers who staff the concessions have told Santos and members of the Kearny Recreation Commission that “they won’t be able to see the games and that it will be hard to sell the concessions.”

They contend that the stand window is “too small” and “not high enough” to easily access customers “so if you’re taller than, say, 5-feet-six, you’ve got to bend down to look into the booth to talk to the person inside,” Santos said.

Also, he said, because of the tight quarters, “it’s hard for two people to work together inside the concession stand.”

And because the stand is “located in a difficult corner of the building,” the folks inside cannot get a clear view of what’s happening on the field, Santos said.

“So we’ve got a space that’s inefficient and inconvenient for both the workers and the public,” the mayor said.

Santos said there may be a structural way to remedy the problem and, to that end, he’s trying to get estimates of what the work would cost and whether there’s money available to do it.

The Musial Group of Mountainside were the architects on the job, he said.

– Ron Leir

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