From Washed out Games to Field of Dreams: West Caldwell plans Memorial Park Renovation

Modern Field will sport natural grass, many added benefits for residents

A rendering of the Memorial Park concept.
Diane Lilli

Many a childhood memory includes the sharp sound of a bat slicing into a baseball, or the adrenalin filled seconds when that perfect kick results in a game winning goal.

Now, the children of West Caldwell and Caldwell have something new to add to their dreams: a state of the art Memorial Field.

And, unlike the soggy often unusable playing ground that disappointed so many during wet game days or nights for years, this new field will be hi-tech, designed to please, and happily all natural grass.

Due to the intense drainage project done at Memorial Field last year, the area is ripe for some new designs that will take it into the next phase of a multiple-sports future.

A $1,350,000 bond ordinance was approved by the West Caldwell governing body last week, and renderings of the proposed changes to Memorial Park were presented to the public.

West Caldwell councilman and Chair of the recreation Parks Dom Aiello said the new bond ordinance comes at a very good point for the township.

"West Caldwell has been fiscally responsible for a long time," he noted. "We are rewarded with the best bond rating a municipality can have and therefore our cost of money is at an all time low (less than 1%) which is why this is the perfect time to make these improvements. There are other capital projects outside of recreation that will enable West Caldwell to improve on its infrastructure and make improvements to better our community. All of the bond down payments are included in our 0% municipal tax increase budget."

Sports that will be played at the field include Baseball  in the Spring, Summer and Fall as well as Football, Soccer and Lacrosse in the Fall.

"In the Spring and Summer it will allow us to play one more game at night that we otherwise would have never had the opportunity to do so," said Aiello. "In the Fall teams that could not play any games there at night will have the same ability to play a night game or practice. Does capacity for teams/games change too? The capacity has grown year in and year out and these improvements will assist us in meeting those demands."

The new plans call for dugouts, bleachers and a scoreboard for the baseball fields. The tennis courts will be resurfaced.

Aiello said the idea is to try to add in a activity center on site as well.

"We intend on making the section near the side of the tennis courts an Activities Center that seniors as well as all residents can enjoy bocce ball, horseshoes, chess/checkers/backgammon," he noted. "We also have an area in the center that can host BBQ’s with grills and picnic tables. We are giving the building that sits right in the middle of this Activities Center a facelift and improving (it) on the inside as well so there can be indoor activities hosted there as well."

With new lighting being installed, Aiello said the council plans to work closely with residents.

"It will be high school / recreation level lighting," he added. "We have schedule representatives from Musco lighting to come to our September 18th meeting to make a presentation on the lighting that we look to spec out and what impact it will have on the residents surrounding Memorial Park."

The improved field is expected to be completed by Spring 2013.

Updates to follow.