This article was updated at 8 p.m. Tuesday.
A new turf field could be built in the Caldwells with the help of up to $300,000 in grant funding, local officials said Monday.
West Caldwell will apply for an Essex County Open Space grant within the next week to convert a grass field to a turf field at Essex Valley School, a not-for-profit alternative school for students with behavioral disorders.
The field would be built as a public-private partnership with the school, said West Caldwell Mayor Joseph Tempesta Jr. The township does not own the property, but the township has a long-term contract with the facility to use the field.
“It will have very little impact — if at all — on the tax payers,” Tempesta said.
The cost to West Caldwell taxpayers could be as little as $200,000 of the estimated $650,000 to build the field, but that’s if the township can convince Caldwell to get involved, Tempesta said.
The Open Space funding, if approved by the county, would match $150,000 put up by West Caldwell.
If Caldwell joins in the project and contributes its own $150,000, the county grant would match that money, too, and raise the total grant funding to $300,000.What do you think, Caldwells? Do you think building a new turf field is a good idea? Vote now in The Caldwells Patch poll above.
In addition, the potential of another turf field could entice the Caldwells to find partners to help pay for the field, such as Caldwell College and Mount St. Dominic.
Caldwell Mayor Ann Dassing endorsed the project Tuesday and said the borough will be applying for the Open Space grant within a week.
The partnership between Caldwell and West Caldewell is a prudent way of paying for a new turf field, said Dassing, and will lessen the burden on taxpayers.
“We’ll have $300,000 to put toward the project," said Dassing, "and with the rentals, it shouldn’t cost the town more than the initial investment."
The Essex Valley School also did not response to comments for this article.
West Caldwell Councilman Stanley Hladik said a partnership between West Caldwell and Caldwell is not unusual, noting the turf field built at the Kiwanis Oval had been funded in a similar way.
said Hladik, “Is to be able to work with both townships and the county just to
make it more attractive to the taxpayers to get the project done.”
The field at Essex Valley School, at 1 Henderson Drive in West Caldwell, is one of the better grass fields in town and there is constantly a high demand to use it. Installing a turf field would allow it to be used more with less maintenance, said Hladik.
“We would definitely be able to up the amount of time [the field] is used” if a turf field is installed, said Hladik.
Because various athletic programs use the field, there are added features already in place at the Essex Valley School, including lighting and a food facility.
West Caldwell can expect a response from the county about the funding within the next three months, said Hladik.