BASKING RIDGE, NJ — Parents are pressuring the Bernards Township Board of Education to save the last home football game of an abbreviated season. The Nov. 6 game is threatened by work to make an emergency sewer line repair at Ridge High School.
About 100 feet of replacement pipe is needed, and the administration is looking to attack the estimated $800,000 project in the first full week of November, when the school is out of session in the building.
At Monday’s meeting, the school board approved seeking an emergency contract without bidding, as allowed by state law, for a company to make immediate sanitary sewer renovations at Ridge High School as a health and safety concern.
Excavation work in an alley behind the new gym would ideally be pursued starting Nov. 3, when school is closed for Election Day. No in-person lessons are scheduled for the rest of the week, in part due to deference to the teachers’ convention on Nov. 5 and 6.
If all goes well, the old pipe would be removed in several days, although the replacement work and backfilling wouldn’t likely be completed before the Friday night game against Hillsborough.
Superintendent Nick Markarian, citing a desire to be prepared in case some unforeseen construction problem arises, said Monday night he had asked Athletic Director Rich Shello to seek a backup plan and have the game played at Hillsborough.
Ridge has played only one home game in a season truncated by state-mandated precautions against the COVID-19 virus. The homecoming game scheduled for Oct. 16 against St. Joseph’s of Metuchen was postponed when St. Joe’s reported virus cases.
Shello worked to fill the open date and found Union High also had its Oct. 16 opponent cancel. Ridge and Union agreed to move their previously scheduled Oct. 30 game up two weeks, with hopes of then finding new opponents for Oct. 30. As it was Union's home game originally, it remained that way, said Shello.
The Nov. 6 game would be only the fifth, and last regularly scheduled, game of the year. The Oct. 30 weekend remains vacant, for now, on Ridge's football schedule.
Markarian said he wanted a backup plan in case the contractor ran into a problem, like breaching an electrical or other utility line during the work. The area is near the trainer’s room and athletic office, so it is “high traffic,” he said.
“My recommendation is to know there is a different plan,” Markarian said. “If it doesn’t go just right, we could have a problem…I Just don’t want to put us in a situation where we could get stuck.”
He said he was trying to get exterior digging work completed before the ground froze and wintry weather moved in.
Parents following the meeting on a Livestream broadcast immediately wrote in, with one parent saying “No, no, no! We cannot lose the last football game,” and suggesting parking in other lots and a revised entrance could be improvised.
State guidelines limit the number of spectators to 500, including fans of the visiting school.