BERNARDS TWP., NJ _ The Ridge Baseball Club's request to turn on the night lights at the Valley Road field complex was affirmed by the Bernards Township Committee on Tuesday, when an RBC official said players in the youth baseball organization began this week.

Although COVID-19 shut down the kids' baseball league through the spring and summer, almost 200 children have now signed up for fall baseball, Kevin Larner, executive vice president for the RBC, told the Township Committee at its meeting. He said practices started at the beginning of the week.

The approval, granted on a preliminary basis late in August, allows the kids' baseball league approval on a one-time basis only to turn on the lights for night games between Sept. 1 and Nov. 15 at the RBC fields. The RBC leases the complex from Bernards Township.

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Even while supporting youth baseball in what has been a difficult year for many, Township Committee members and Gerard Elson, a neighbor of the complex, made it clear on Tuesday that they would like to see additional consideration of the residents living near the complex.

Elson asked if the Township Committee would provide a liaison to seek solutions with the RBC on such concerns as the constant sound of bats hitting balls in batting cages adjacent to Valley Road.

Township Committeeman John Carpenter said that the changing leadership in the youth baseball organization means that promises made one year might be forgotten by the next. He urged that no further concessions be made to RBC until some longstanding issues with the community, including parking for visitors, are resolved.

Larner thanked the Township Committee for its support, and said the RBC had worked hard to put the league together.

Larner said the baseball club had invited residents to contact the RBC via email with any concerns. He said he had heard from one resident who expressed support of the club.

Regarding complaints about parking on neighboring streets _ and issue addressed when the township put up "no parking" signs on some of those streets in previous years _ Larner noted that games will be staggered in scheduling this year due to the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic so fewer vehicles will be seeking parking.

He also said that the RBC had looked into setting up a sound barrier by the batting cages in a previous year and found the cost could be "exhorbitantly expensive," and any project would require approval from Somerset County since Valley Road is a county road.

Larner said the RBC would very much want to work with the township on addressing any concerns on "township-owned property."