SPRINGFIELD, N.J.- Over the last several weeks, the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders have started construction on a new turf surface at Meisel Field. Freeholder Bruce Bergen talked with TAPinto and answered questions about the project.

In a phone interview, Bergen, who is also a Springfield resident said that the decision to turf the field came as part of a larger plan to turf multiple fields in the county parks system, although he noted that the scheduling decision on the Meisel Field work in particular came about two years ago. He explained that there is always a need for more fields in the county and in Springfield in particular, and that this project is an attempt to make more recreation space available for county residents.

As far as the cost to taxpayers, Bergen said that the low bid for the field construction was $1.4 million. He also said that the project has progressed far enough along with no major setbacks that it should come in at budget without major cost overruns. And in regard to a timetable for construction, Bergen said that the last schedule posted by the construction company at the beginning of June only shows a few months left in the construction process.

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“Over the last four or so weeks, I’ve watched the project develop,” Bergen said. “Right now, the official end date is August 31st.”

According to Bergen, the last major step before the completion of the project is the delivery of the turf itself. He said that the summer season is a popular time for turf installation, and that as a result, the manufacturer will have a large amount of orders to deliver in that time period.

When installed, then new turf field will be lined for football, soccer and lacrosse use. Removable football goalposts will also make it easier to switch the field over. The track and field facilities that were present at the old field will also be reinstalled and the running track will remain in place.

One of the major issues with the grass field that was in place before was its condition. A combination of overuse and pooling water joined to make the field a muddy mess. Bergen said that upon installation of the turf field, games can now be played during the rain, and the drying time of the new turf field will now be several hours, rather than the 2-3 days necessary for the old grass field.

Another advantage of the field will be the lower maintenance costs. The turf field will no longer have a need for fertilizer or water, which will be a financial benefit to the town and the county.

When completed, the Meisel field project will join the recently finished Glenside Avenue field project in Summit on the list of completed facilities. The construction in Springfield will be followed by three other fields, including Cedarbrook Park in Plainfield, which is scheduled to be done by September as well as turf installations at Ponderosa park in Scotch Plains and the Madison Avenue park in Rahway.

For Bergen, the installation of the new field at Meisel simply comes down to one thing, which is giving Springfield residents another outlet for recreation.

“It’s going to create more opportunities for the residents of Springfield to play sports,” Bergen said.