Washington Township officials said they need more time to consider their options before making a commitment to install artificial turf at , upsetting residents who have been pushing for the change.
Residents began asking for artificial turf when they found renting fields at the would cost more than $20,000 for the spring, though Memorial Field has had problems for more than 10 years. Netting from old sod sticks up through the ground, creating a potential hazard for anyone playing sports on the field, according to township residents Eamonn Twomey and Scott Spezial, who to artificial turf during a council meeting in March.
Since then, two landscape architects have for Memorial and other township fields and members of the recreation board have to officials, but no decision has been made.
"We just want a vote," Twomey said. "We want to know whether we're moving forward or not."
Councilman Glenn Beckmeyer made a motion at Monday's council meeting to bond for $2.5 million to pay for improvements to the field, but no council members seconded the motion. Instead, the council voted to put out notice for bids to re-sod the field, though a previous attempt yielded no bids. The council included $40,000 in for the project.
Council Vice President Joseph D'Urso said this year would be a good time to do the project because the township's debt load is decreasing by about $400,000 next year.
"The numbers show that we could do it, but there's a lot of other issues," D'Urso said.
There are numerous projects that also need to be done, according to council members. The DPW needs a new garage and salt shed, the fire department may need renovations and many township streets need to be repaved. The various projects could cost between $1 million and $5 million, according to Council President Richard Hrbek.
"It's like getting your income tax check back," Hrbek said. "Do you put in the built-in pool that you really want and your family would love you for, or do you fix your boiler that's 25 years old?"
Twomey said there was no reason undertaking the other projects should mean the township could not improve Memorial Field.
Hrbek said he agrees something needs to be done to improve Memorial Field, but there may be a more cost-effective solution than putting in artificial turf.
"The decision where you're the hero might not be the best decision for the town," Hrbek said.