WEST ORANGE, NJ — Plans are moving ahead to build a new “Bubble” at West Orange High School that will expand the athletic usefulness of what has been primarily a weight-room area, Superintendent Jeffrey Rutzky announced on Monday.

At this week’s West Orange Board of Education (WOBOE) meeting, Rutzky said that bids are opening this week to put up a new, state-of-the-art “Bubble” that will offer “a lot more inside space” than the old Bubble, which collapsed.

“With the old Bubble, we lost of a lot of room in the corners, which could have been used for athletic purposes,” said Rutzky. “With the new Bubble, we will gain all that space back.”

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Rutzky said that trying to repair the old Bubble was not an option because the HVAC unit could not pump out enough air to keep up with the snow. According to Rutzky, this caused the Bubble to collapse with heavy snowstorms.

WOBOE President Ronald Charles said plans for the new Bubble include putting in astro-turf for practice purposes and adding track lanes.

“This new Bubble will come with an 18-to 20-year guarantee and will include LED lighting,” said Charles. “Our athletic facilities are second to none. And with the addition of this new Bubble, we will provide our students with a much better facility that they can use in the winter.”

During public comment, resident Bill Sullivan said the Bubble area should be further widened to make it more useful to more high school athletes.

Charles said the board considered expanding the Bubble’s footage, but that it was not practical from an economic standpoint. He said the extra piping and other infrastructure changes that would be needed to expand the footage would be cost-prohibitive.

Another positive development coming out of this project, according to Rutzky, is that students in the high school’s advanced engineering class are coming up with a design for the inside of the Bubble.

“The students did a phenomenal job, and they are really excited about it,” said Rutzky. “These are our most advanced engineering students, and their plans will be reviewed by the project’s architect.”

To read more about this meeting, where the board discussed the amount that the district will receive in state aid this year, click HERE

The next WOBOE meeting will be held on Aug. 6 at West Orange High School.

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