Members of the Washington Township recreation board recommended Monday that the council approve a plan to renovate with artificial turf, new lights and additonal parking.
Recreation Director Judy Monocky said the board had decided to support a plan which would replace the sod currently at the site with artificial turf while removing one of the two baseball fields. Memorial Field would also have additional diagonal parking spaces along School Street as well as new lights, bleachers and a walking path around the perimeter.
To make up for the lost baseball diamond, the board also supported a plan to add lights to Sherry Field, making it usable for older boys' games at night.
"For the safety and well-being of every child participating in our sports and recreation programs, we need to move forward with a multipurpose turf field," Monocky said.
Officials had mixed reaction to the plan, which board members estimated would cost about $2.3 million for Memorial Field and $359,000 for Sherry Field. Councilman Fred Goetz said he wanted more information about drainage, field scheduling and the cost of grass fields before making a commitment for artificial turf.
"I think it would be an injustice to the taxpayers to just jump into a $3 million project without knowing what the alternatives are," Goetz said.
Residents urged the council to make a decision soon. Scott Spezial said netting which sticks up from the sod at Memorial Field poses a danger to children playing there.
"We do want something done swiftly," Spezial said. "It is a safety issue."
Councilman Joseph D'Urso said he supports making changes to the field, but agrees they need some more information because of the high costs.
"A lot of people want it, and I'm totally for improving that field," D'Urso said. "It absolutely needs it. But in these times, you need to do everything the right way."
Councilman Steve Cascio said he will have more answers for some of the questions by the council's next meeting, when they may vote on hiring an engineer for the project.