WOOD-RIDGE, NJ - Concerns about the availability of practice time for the Wood-Ridge High School Boys’ soccer team livened up what was otherwise a routine meeting of the Wood-Ridge Mayor and Council Wednesday evening.
Parents came to the meeting to express concerns and complaints over when and where the boys practice and times and were raised during the first open hearing of citizens. The specific complaints concerned recreation sports taking precedence over boys soccer in the evenings at Donna Ricker Field, and that the team be given time to practice on the high school field.
There was a claim that Pomponio Field in Moonachie, where they practice, was not compliant with the guidelines set out by the NJSIAA for COVID safety, specifically no hand sanitizing unit and running water.
Mayor Paul Sarlo defended the scheduling, noting that the town, not the school board, had invested in Donna Ricker Field for all athletic teams, both high school and recreation. He noted that the Wood-Ridge Athletic Director, Marc Sinclair, is in charge of scheduling the high school’s athletic department’s time on the field with the Recreation Department.
Sarlo also noted that the Wood-Ridge’s girls soccer team practices simultaneously to the high school football team, using a smaller section of the field. Sarlo noted that the time slot of 8 pm to 10 pm was also opened up for the high school soccer team on most nights for them to practice at that time as well.
“We were the only community around here that its field opened the entire pandemic,” Sarlo stated. “The soccer team was having “captains practices” during the summer when most teams were not able to do so due to fields being closed.
As far as COVID compliance, Sarlo noted that the team was given a hand sanitizing unit, so that should not be an issue, and that running water at the site is not a requirement.
He and borough administrator Chris Eilert also provided an update on the new soccer facility at Wesmont, also correcting some erroneous rumors. The vendor had begun laying the turf field down at Wesmont Tuesday (see accompanying picture) and is expected to be done in the next few weeks.
Eilert corrected the rumor that the field would not be available this year due to construction being done around the field. He stated that once the field is completed, there will be a slight delay in getting it open to the public due to the need to put up safety fencing and creating a safe pathway to and from the field, but it will open this fall.
The lights at the field will not be installed this fall, however, so use of the field will be from after school until dark.
“By next spring, the Borough of Wood-Ridge will have a premiere soccer facility to be used year-round, with lights,“ Sarlo stated. “It is being lined only for soccer. Give us time to get this done.”
When asked by a different resident of the cost of the Wesmont Athletic Complex, Eilert stated that while all the costs are in, the value of the land that the developers had donated to the project was recently valued at $18 million.
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