CRANFORD - Architect Jeff Curry presented options for Cranford's new indoor recreation center to the Township Committee at Tuesday night's combined workshop and official meeting.
The Township of Cranford purchased the former MHS Tennis Academy, located at 375 Centennial Avenue, for two million dollars in September 2019 with the intent to convert the indoor tennis courts into a multi-sport recreation facility.
Design options discussed included whether to use a synthetic turf grass or a rubberized court, which sports lines should be drawn on the ground, and how many dividers to purchase.
According to Curry and to the agreement of the Township Committee, a rubberized court would be best as it would allow more flexibility in which sports can utilize the facility. He mentioned that the choice of synthetic turf would likely eliminate the options of basketball and volleyball. While sports such as lacrosse and field hockey are better suited on synthetic turf, they are still able to be played on the rubberized floor. No cost or cost difference was discussed.
To allow for multiple teams or sports to utilize the facility at the same time, the subject of purchasing one or two dividers was discussed. The purchase of two dividers (at the cost of $40,000 each) would allow more uses at a time, but the issue of space influenced the committee to as of now settle on one divider. While two dividers would allow a sport such as volleyball to set up three courts comfortably, three basketball courts would be right up against the dividers, which Curry referred to as "not ideal."
With one divider, some options that could be available at one time include two volleyball courts, two basketball courts, four wrestling mats, six pickleball courts, or two 5v5 soccer fields. The one divider option could also allow a mix of two sports at a time with one on each side. The divider from the ground to roughly 10-12 feet high would be vinyl with netting the rest of the way to the ceiling to allow for heat or air conditioning to easily flow throughout the facility.
To allow the facility to offer more sports, more lines would have to be drawn on the floor, which creates the potential for confusion with different sets of regulation lines overlapping each other. Curry and the Township Committee spoke on the option of each side of the divider allowing specific sports, though Curry did joke that while multiple lines may confuse adults, young athletes seem to know which are which without a problem.
To decide which sports the facility should accommodate, Curry suggested to the Township Committee that it should depend on the area's most popular sports. Talks are still ongoing between the Township Committee and the architect. TAPinto Cranford will continue to report on this story as more information becomes available.