School could get top fields

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 11, 2007

COURTLAND—When construction is complete, Riverdale Elementary School could wind up with one of the nicest baseball fields in the area.

With an outfield fence 250 feet from home plate, the field at the new school will be able to accommodate players through age 15 for league games. If a proposal by the Hunterdale Ruritan Club is ultimately accepted, lights will be installed, and games could be held day or night.

The Southampton School Board considered a request Monday

by the Ruritan club to allow the Southampton-Sussex Baseball League to use one of the new fields for its games. The league plays games Fridays and Sundays from April through the middle of June.

The club would provide lights for the field and hopes to take advantage of donations and grants to pay the estimated $20,000 to $40,000 cost of the equipment and installation, according to Murray Turner, vice president and baseball chairman.

Since the Riverdale school is now under construction, some steps could be taken to reduce the eventual cost and difficulty associated with erecting lights, the school board learned.

Engineers can incorporate the lights into the design before the field is completed, adding conduit underneath asphalt areas, for instance, and upgrading electrical service to accommodate the increased power needs.

“Our opinion is that it’s a very worthwhile and beneficial aspect to the school,” Brian Camden told the board. Camden represents Powell Management Associates, the School Board’s construction management firm.

The Ruritans likely would begin installation next year and would expect to use their own volunteer workers to complete much of the work, Turner said.

The Hunterdale Ruritans have sponsored teams in the league for almost 14 years. The league has been using a field at the James L. Camp Jr. YMCA in Franklin for its games.

During that time, club members have maintained all four of the fields at the YMCA’s ball fields.

Turner was instructed to let other club members know of the board’s interest in the partnership and to make sure the club is aware of the potential costs and coordination issues.

In a related matter at Monday’s meeting, the School Board learned that construction at Riverdale Elementary, which is set to replace the aging Hunterdale Elementary School, is progressing on schedule.

Masonry walls have been completed around the gymnasium area and started in other portions of the building. A concrete slab has been poured for the multi-purpose room. Other slabs will be poured later this month.

The School Board learned of revisions to the construction budget totaling about $477,000. The increase is largely due to the cost of security upgrades and the design and construction of a pump-and-haul sewage system that will be used at the school until sewer a system extension connects the building to a municipal wastewater system.

The construction bid for the school came in at just under $12.5 million. With contingencies, furniture, playground equipment, architect’s fees and miscellaneous expenses, the total cost is expected approach $15.4 million.

Riverdale construction is expected to be complete in time for the beginning of the school year.