HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ - In the final regular Hasbrouck Heights Council meeting of 2019, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Matthew Helfant presented a proposed shared services agreement between the Board of Education and the Borough for upgrading of Depken Field.
Helfant's 14-plus minute presentation was supported by a 26-page report distributed to all the Council members. He opened by explaining that, in addition to the school district, the field is also used by various organizations throughout the borough including Hasbrouck Heights Junior Football, Hasbrouck Heights Soccer Association, Babe Ruth baseball, men's over 40 softball teams, Corpus Christi School, the Dyslexia Walk held by the Masonic Lodge and the Lion's July 4th fireworks. Helfant called the field and the track a "community use facility." He also noted that it is time for the field to be replaced as it is past its lifespan.
Helfant noted that field had GMAX testing in 2017 by Sports Labs USA, and submitted the nine-page report to the council for review. GMAX testing is impact testing that measures the shock attenuation performance of sports fields, both artificial and natural.He noted that the rating was "Adequate" but the field was only warrantied for eight years, and "we're over that mark."
"And I really don't want a football field to be adequate, for safety reasons," said Helfant. "So the lifespan of Depken Field is exhausted. It's time."
Helfant touted several of the benefits of shared services. He noted "one of the major benefits" was that "the town can get better funds with a lower interest rate than the school can."
He also noted that the state and county encourages shared services agreements, "between towns and schools, between schools and schools, and towns and towns."
"Because ultimately, it helps the taxpayer," he said.
The project is estimated between $900K and $1.1 million dollars, to replace the turf on the football field and track, which has cracks. He said he didn't have an exact number because there is no official agreement yet, but noted that was the costs of other schools with similar sizes fields and tracks.
Helfant pointed out the previous shared services agreement with the funding of Hitchcock Field at the high school in 2014.
If agreed upon, the timeline for the project would begin in January/February with the agreement needing approval from both the BOE and Council. Helfant said he still needed to speak with the full Board about it. He said that work would begin "hopefully in the summer of 2020, and be completed in September 2020.
Editor's Note: Council's questions about the Depken Field project and other business will be covered in a second story.
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