ROXBURY, NJ – Roxbury officials agreed Tuesday to spend nearly $1.5 million on a long-awaited improvement to Horseshoe Lake Park in Succasunna, a vote that drew applause from a group of coaches and young athletes attending the meeting.

The township Mayor and Council approved three contracts, totaling $1,479,826, for the project which will include the installation of an artificial turf field, an enlarged parking lot, new fencing, new irrigation and new lighting.

The money will not come from tax dollars. Instead, the township will use about $600,000 in its Recreation Trust Fund – cash from recreation program user fees that have been saved over the years – along with future recreation fees which will be increased by $5.

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Roxbury Councilman Fred Hall said construction, expected begin “as soon as possible,” should take four months to complete.

A Long Time Coming

“This has been quite a journey, everybody,” said Hall, who has spearheaded the project for several years. “We had to overcome quite a few obstacles to address the Phase One of our Horseshoe Lake plan, but I think we’re there.”

Addressing the kids in jerseys lining the back wall of the council chambers, Hall said, “For all the young people that are in the audience tonight, this field is for you.” The field will be lined for football, soccer, lacrosse and field hockey, he noted.

Although bids for the work came in a bit higher than anticipated, Hall and Roxbury Manager John Shepherd said the project was brought back within budget by making some expenditure cuts.

For example, about $100,000 was saved by ditching a plan to use Field Turf Cool Play, a more expensive extruded composite material that is supposed to reduce field temperature.

“We removed that,” Shepherd said. “By not using the Cool Play, we use a different turf also. There’s money savings on both of those.”

Shepherd said Cool Play is a new product that would have been nice to have, but isn’t vital. “We would have liked to have it, but many, many fields don’t have it,” he said. “The high school field doesn’t have it, so we’re still comfortable we’re getting a good product.”

The synthetic turf field, made by Field Turf, will cost $311,205, including installation. It will be bought through an Educational Services Commission of New Jersey cooperative purchasing agreement as will the $402,621 in athletic lighting to be provided by Musco Lighting.

Roxbury Contractor Gets the Job

The biggest expenditure will be $766,000, including $21,000 for irrigation work, to general contractor Rochelle Contracting Co. The company, based in Landing and owned by H. Peter Rochelle, was not the lowest bidder for the work.

The lowest bid – for $725,500, including $20,000 for irrigation work – came from Abraham Construction of West Orange. However, town officials determined Abraham did not meet a bidding requirement stipulating it provide a description of completing five similar projects in the past three years.

“Rochelle has substantial experience in the erection of recreational complex facilities,” wrote Roxbury Purchasing Agent Valerie Wyble in a memo. “After a significant review of both bids, including references, it was determined that it would be in the interest of the township to reject the lowest bid due to lack of qualifications and accept the second lowest bidder’s submission.

The highest bid, $1,243,000, was submitted by Mount Arlington-based Tomco Construction.

The township hoped to award contracts by the end of February as a way of ensuring the new field is ready for use this fall.

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