BJ’s donates $10K for Harvey Field



Kearny aims to light up the back end of its Harvey Field Complex off Schuyler Ave. to help take up the slack when the town shuts down the Gunnell Oval.

And a corporate backer is helping turn on the juice.

BJ’s Wholesale Club has donated a $10,000 BJ’s Charitable Foundation grant to the Kearny Recreation Department toward the effort to illuminate the lower eastern section of the play facility.

BJ’s expects to open a new store that will anchor a redeveloped shopping mall at the north end of Passaic Ave. in Kearny late this summer. A total of 140 full- and part-time jobs are projected for the new 85,000 square-foot retail facility.

“BJ’s Wholesale Club is privileged to serve the Kearny community and we’re proud of the positive impact we have on local children and families,” said Robert Reyes, who will serve as GM of the new store.

It’s a good start, but the town will need a lot more money to adequately illuminate the targeted playing area, town officials acknowledged.

Kearny Recreation Director Ralph Cattafi said that based on a survey of the site he solicited from Musco Lighting of Farmingdale, it could cost in the area of $400,000 to install nine poles with lights “to cover the entire [back portion].”

“I’m hoping to do it in phases,” he said. “My phase one goal is to raise about $200,000 which would light up the entire length of the (back end) soccer field.

For the balance of the funding, Cattafi said he’s investigating government grant programs along with possible contributions from regional baseball and soccer associations.

“I’m also exploring other fundraising avenues such as the town hosting soccer tournaments,” he added.

The front end of Harvey Field, which is equipped with lights, is currently deployed as a youth soccer field while the back field can accommodate town rec boys’ and girls’ soccer, Kearny High soccer, rec softball and rec baseball for ages 7 to 15, plus fall soccer for two private groups, Cattafi said.

Time is of the essence since the town is planning to shut down its Gunnell Oval athletic complex, further north along Schuyler Ave., by sometime in 2017 for a massive facelift, including elevating and remediating the site – assuming it can find enough non-local revenue sources to finance the estimated $18 million project.

Lighting the rear portion of Harvey Field – allowing the use of that space as a much-needed backup for the Oval – “would be a huge asset for the town’s recreation program,” Cattafi said.

Mayor Alberto Santos thanked BJ’s for its gift, adding that Kearny was “pleased to partner with BJ’s on their Fuel Your Fundraiser campaign, which will help us raise much-needed funds for Kearny’s recreational fields and programs.”

For every renewed membership sold through the program, community nonprofit organizations receive $5 and can earn significant bonus payouts keyed to numbers of memberships sold.

The Kearny store, which anticipates having Dunkin’ Donuts as a “sub-tenant” inside, will offer fresh produce, meats, deli, bakery products and groceries, along with general merchandise including electronics, jewelry, household supplies and clothing.

“We like to get involved with the community before we open our doors,” Reyes said, “and we know how important recreation is to the Kearny community. And we’re looking forward to giving more.”

As an example, according to company spokeswoman Maria Fruci, BJ’s plans to “adopt” Washington Elementary School and provide the school a free membership in the Wholesale Club which it will be encouraged to use to secure school supplies.

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