NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – The Borough Council decided to move forward with the Oakwood Park Redevelopment plan at its meeting on Monday. The borough has allocated approximately $2.5 million to the project.
Councilmen Jim Madden and Robert Robinson joined Borough Engineer Andrew Hipolit to explain the planned improvements to the field facility. The upper field will remain a natural grass, 60/90 baseball field. The plan includes field area refurbishment, the addition of a 6-foot tall retaining wall separating the upper field from the lower field as well as a four feet tall black vinyl chain link fence.
The lower multi-purpose field will be upgraded with synthetic turf. The field will also accommodate a smaller (50/70) baseball field as well as a 40/60 baseball/softball field. The lower field will also be surrounded by a black vinyl chain link fence.
The pond will become a “triple-use” facility accommodating fishing derbies and both general skating and ice hockey in winter, Hipolit said.
The existing playground, bocce court as well as basketball court will remain unchanged. Renovation of the existing two buildings on the complex is not a part of the plan. However, the borough will look into fortifying the buildings and upgrading them separately. The field complex will provide ample opportunities for Eagle Scout projects, Madden said.
Two 80 foot lighting poles will be added to the lower field area, one near the playground and one near the pond. The lights will shine down and they are “lower intensity lights” and thus less disruptive to the neighborhood residents, Hipolit assured some concerned Oakwood Field neighbors. Madden added that the lights will be turned off at 9 pm as is done in Lieder Field.
Despite the football striping the field is not designed for football games and does not have goal posts. Madden said that the renovated field will provide a practice facility for various sports, including football.
The project received a mixed reception among the residents attending the meeting. Many came forward to thank the council for the needed field upgrade. However, some residents, especially those in the Oakwood Park neighborhood, expressed their concerns regarding the increasing traffic, noise and lighting.
"Our committee was very excited when the final plan was produced and placed over the Oakwood Park landscape. The picture is worth a thousand words to the kids of this community who've waited patiently for this project to finally come together. The design represents the culmination of many meetings and reviews, but perhaps most critical, the committee worked with the neighbors to discuss the plan and we solicited and reviewed input and feedback as part of this process," Madden told TAPinto.
"Oakwood Park will be the 6th project conceived by the Recreation Capital Review Committee, and by far the largest impact scope to date. The previous five succeeded primarily because we've adhered to a process of review, public meeting and input that has helped shape the outcomes. We want to thank the neighbors of Oakwood Park who reached out to us and helped us come up with the right balance of redevelopment, provided ideas to improve our concept plan."
"Tonight is a great night if you're a kid in New Providence who enjoys recreation and sport activities, a parent who's seen so many other towns with better and more modern facilities, and also for the community as a whole. When you make investments in infrastructure such as this redevelopment, it improves the value of homes and the overall quality of life," Madden added.
The bids for the project are going out in the coming months. The project could potentially start as early as August 2016.