NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - Following on the heels of major improvements to Hillview Field, borough officials have turned their attention to Lincoln Field.
In a town hall meeting, members of the Capital Improvement Committee met with about 50 residents comprised of affected neighbors and sports organization members to share proposed plans for the field.
Councilman Jim Madden presented the results of a year-long study and planning effort to improve the substandard Lincoln Field. Other committee members on hand to address questions and concerns were council members Dr. Bob Robinson and Rob Munoz who were assisted by consulting engineer Patrick Jamieson.
Madden outlined the pros and cons of each alternative in great detail, which included the proposed design, which has seemingly been embraced by residents.
The focus of the improvements will be a sodded field large enough to accommodate soccer, lacrosse and football games.
“Our biggest priority is the restoration of an unencumbered rectangular field free of skin baseball infields,” Madden said.
To accomplish that objective, a current baseball field will be moved from the northwest corner of the park to produce the unencumbered rectangular field, Councilman Munoz said.
The other current baseball field will be slightly pivoted, he added. Both fields will have 60-foot basepaths.
New drainage and irrigation systems will be installed with cut-off drains located on the southwest corner of the property. Safety will be improved with the installation of sideline fencing and new backstop fabric.
New perimeter fencing with a natural barrier utilizing rock retrieved from the Lantern Hill continuing care project at the corner of Mountain Avenue and South Street will be installed along Elkwood Avenue.
Councilman Munoz said that the existing playground consisting of a few swing sets will be moved to a safer location and greatly expanded.
“We received a $25,000 grant from the Union County Kids Recreation Trust that will enable us to expand the scope of the playground,” Munoz said. The existing basketball court will be resurfaced with new backboards and nets.
Several of the affected field neighbors expressed concerns over noise, traffic safety and parking.
These issues were addressed by Councilman Robinson who said improvements to Lincoln Field would not increase current usage. “It will be kept as a nice small field,” he said. In addition, one dead tree and possibly one other will be removed.
Robinson said parking concerns would be addressed by restricting parking on the north side of Elkwood Ave. and the addition of 24 parking spots located on the east side of the Municipal Center parking lot. A pedestrian crosswalk would be created to allow safe passage to the field.
While a very limited use of artificial turf was employed at Hillview, some residents questioned the absence at Lincoln.
Madden responded that Lincoln’s surface area is about 100,000 square feet with an estimated installation cost of $1.1 million for artificial turf. The proposed budget for improvements to Lincoln Field is $350,000 to $400,000 which is included in the 2014 capital budget.
Although synthetic turf will not be used at Lincoln, Madden suggested that turf with the addition of lights may be considered for Oakwood Park and Grove Terrace. For a sport with a 20-week season, a synthetic turf field can be used for about 620 hours. Adding lights, Madden said, increases playing time usage to about 920 hours.
Under an existing stringent lighting ordinance, Oakwood and Grove are the only borough parks that could be considered for lights.
Construction at Lincoln Field will begin in August after the completion of summer recreation programs with anticipated completion in late October. Madden said the field would be re-opened in April of next year.