South Brunswick will soon expand the options available for local youth sports teams.
The township will soon go out to bid on a project that will add three turf fields to Rowland Park, with two to be used for baseball and one to be a convertible multi-use sports field.
"The whole idea of this is to allow us to have more options," said Tom Morris, director of recreation and parks. "Turf fields are almost indestructible. They can be played on right after a heavy rain and can be used without tearing up the fields."
Mr. Morris said the fields are so versatile and durable that they can be used by multiple sports in the same day.
"These fields will be able to be used for a football game during the day and then later can be used for a soccer game," he said. "We can play on them 12 months a year and not worry about cold weather tearing up the turf. It also gives the opportunity for baseball to be played right after a heavy rain storm ends. In the past a heavy rain storm meant that the field couldn't be used for a couple of days."
The project is expected to go out to bid sometime in December. The total cost estimate is not yet available, but the project is expected to be funded partially by the Middlesex County Open Space Trust Fund and the township's Open Space Trust Fund, according to Mr. Morris. Both trust funds allow money to be used for the development of facilities.
Mr. Morris said that once completed, the upgrades will make Rowland Park a destination for youth sports and tournaments.
"This is really going to be a beautiful facility," Mr. Morris said. "This park already has tons of open field space and a great concession area. The turf fields will be the icing on the cake. It will provide us with fields that can be used by more groups in town, without the heavy damage that comes when you overuse fields."
Mr. Morris added that the turf fields will also take the pressure off the township's existing grass fields. The additions will bring the number of turf fields in South Brunswick to five, with the other two located at Harvest Woods Park for soccer.
The installation of the turf fields is expected to begin in the early Spring of 2011 and hopefully be completed by late Spring or early Summer, weather permitting, Mr Morris said.
The new fields will also be a cost benefit to the township over time, as turf fields don't need the constant upkeep as do natural grass athletic fields. The turf fields will only need to be worked on for about one hour every couple of months by a machine that fluffs up the turf material.
"There will be quite a bit of cost savings over time by using turf fields," Mr Morris said. "You don't have to cut the grass, you don't have to fertilize it and you don't have to water it, which over the years will save a considerable amount of money. It's hard to determine what the savings will be per field but it's substantial."