DeHart Park Rehab Scaled Back
Three minor details are shaved off the $2 million-plus park refurbishment
Some minor plans for the DeHart field rehabilitation have been dropped, bringing the cost of the project down by over $70,000. The cancelled aspects of the project, which would have been part of the first phase of the work, are a portable pitcher’s mound, a decorative wall and a park sign.
At their April 7 meeting, the Township Committee adopted a bond ordinance allowing the township to borrow about $1.9 million for extensive improvements to the park, including refurbishing the playing fields and walkways. Deputy Mayor Fred Profeta cast the sole dissenting vote.
The Township currently has $270,000 in place for the project. Township officials said at the April 7 meeting that they believed they could rehab the park without having to go to bond.
The trims followed a discussion item at the April 21 Township Committee meeting introduced by Council member Jerry Ryan, who said he hoped the discussion could determine the scope of the project. The first phase of the project was singled out for scrutiny because it deals with the grounds and root structures of aspects like lights and walkways. The idea, Ryan said, was to “not disturb the terrain more than once.”
During the discussion, Mayor Vic De Luca noted that the terms of the contract for the park work included a clause requiring an in-kind donation from the contractor. The Mayor said the nonessential components of the project could be “pushed off” to that.
The project is slightly in doubt, though, as it is dependent on the results of a soil sample of the property done in accordance to a request of the state DEP, who are partially funding the project through a “Green Acres” grant. In the ‘20s, the park was a farm, and the DEP is testing the grounds for trace elements of lead and pesticides.
A spokesperson for the DEP said the testing was part of the grant process and that the park was not being singled out for suspected environmental hazards. However, Ryan noted during the meeting that the results of the test could potentially drastically alter the DeHart park plans.
“All bets are off on this project [if lead or pesticide traces are found],” Ryan said.