Councilman: Turf a 'Necessity' for Kinnelon Residents
Discussions continue on how to improve playing conditions.
The Kinnelon Council has been discussing the installation of an artificial turf field to no avail for seven years now, according to Councilman Jim Freda.
Freda expressed his frustration at the council's work session meeting Thursday. This year, Freda has even gotten the Kinnelon Public Schools Board of Education involved and discussed working together to install artificial turf on the Kinnelon High School field. But the discussions have not yet led to any concrete progress on the project.
"We've been talking about this for about seven years now and we still are nowhere," Freda said. "If we're serious about partnering with the high school ... then we need to start moving forward."
Freda said he feels the borough needs to act on the field for the sake of the residents.
"We need a field. It's a necessity these days, it's no longer a luxury," he said.
The council had originally discussed installing artificial turf on the field behind the Kinnelon Municipal Building. The field has been criticized by council members, coaches and parents for its poor condition and while the borough planned to repair the field, several council members wanted to pursue artificial turf.
But New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection restrictions would likely prevent the borough from being able to install artificial turf so close to nearby water streams.
"We can't do turf here without running into major legal issues with the [New Jersey Highlands Council]," Councilman Dan O'Dougherty said Thursday.
The borough then began seeking alternative locations and came to realize board of education property is often exempt from some of the restrictions placed on borough property. Freda helped commission a committee of volunteers to begin fundraising for the artificial turf field at the high school. The original cost projection for the field was about $400,000, but since then, the borough has learned drainage issues would also need to be repaired on the high school field in order to move forward with artificial turf in that location.
The borough has still not hired an engineer who would develop actual cost estimates for the project. Freda said the cost of the engineering alone would be about $11,000.
Borough Engineer Paul Darmofalski spoke to the council Thursday and provided an estimate for an alternate location: Pearl R. Miller School. But because drainage work would also be needed there and lighting that does not currently exist on the field would also be required, Darmofalski estimated the project could cost about $2 million in that location.
Kinnelon Mayor Bob Collins said he felt the borough should include the board of education in another conversation about the installation of an artificial turf field.
"We're talking about doing improvements to a neighbor's property here," he said.
Collins, Freda and O'Dougherty all seemed to agree though that the high school field may be more appropriate for the artificial turf field, not only because lighting is already available on that field but because the high school is a natural center of the community.
"If you're looking at the best location, it's the high school field," Freda said.
Councilman Gary Moleta said he would like to see other elements included in the project, such as a walking track for residents, if the field is located in another place in the borough. Freda said he and Moleta would speak with the board of education again and report back to the council at the next work session meeting.