South Plainfield NJ selects A-Turf for Memorial Field

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Officials slid shiny silver shovels into the grass outside the Police Athletic League building Monday, symbolically paving the way for the grass field to be replaced with a more durable, more expensive, synthetic field.

The groundbreaking marked the beginning of construction on the $1.5 million Police Athletic League Memorial Field. The project is being funded by a grant from the Middlesex County Open Space Trust Fund.

“Part of our open space plan has always been to help out where we can,” said John Pulomena, the county administrator and a former county freeholder and borough councilman. “This is a great opportunity to help South Plainfield.”

The field will be utilized for soccer, field hockey and lacrosse, as well as other recreation sports. The field also will be utilized by teams from the borough’s public school district.

Turf fields are comprised of a layer of synthetic grass atop a layer of bits of rubber, which act like soft dirt. Kevin Hughes, the borough’s recreation director, said a drainage system below the field efficiently evacuates rainwater to keep the field drier than a grass field would be.

Hughes said the field is more durable — and thus can be used more frequently — than a regular grass field. William Cochrane, a member of the borough’s recreation commission, agreed.

“There are multiple uses and you don’t have to worry about rain and bad weather,” Cochrane said. “(If it rains), five minutes later you can play on it.”

The county awarded the grant last September. Since then, Hughes said he has been aggressively researching the different types and manufacturers of turf fields.

“I didn’t want these sales people to say ‘I’ll take you to show you a field,’ ” Hughes said. “I went to the fields on my own and talked to the athletic directors and coaches, the people who use it.”

Hughes said he personally visited about 50 fields and also spoke by telephone to another 50 or so officials at schools and municipalities that already have turf fields.

Hughes said the grant afforded the borough enough money to have a field with “virgin” rubber, as opposed to the recycled rubber that is often used as filler. For one thing, Hughes said, the green virgin rubber stays cooler than the heat-absorbing black rubber does, a major advantage during the summer months.

The field’s name — Memorial Field — is in honor of two borough police officers, Richard Conklin and William Cady, who were killed in the line of duty in the 1970s, Hughes said. In addition to a memorial, the new site will feature bleachers, a playground and landscaping.

Councilman Raymond Petronko said athletics are an important part of life in the borough.

“What feels really good about it is the fact that we have a terrific recreation program that is supportive of all of our programs, and our schools,” he said.

Hughes said preliminary site work will be conducted in the winter, with the installation of the field set to take place in the spring. The field is scheduled to open on May 2, 2009.

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