Now that the township's public works department has removed the old asphalt and by last week had laid gravel at the hockey rink being reconstructed at Harry Dunham Park, laying the groundwork for a contractor to come in with a goal of completing the work this year.
A few weeks ago, DPW employees removed the cracked asphalt surface that was the reason that the municipal recreational facility had been closed up more than two years ago. By last week, the surface had been smoothed, and gravel had been laid as a base for a future surface, township officials said.
The walls around the facility also were removed for repair, and will be reinstalled once the new surface, with plans also for a new drainage system, is complete, according to township officials. Township Administrator Bruce McArthur said the rink has been used for roller hockey and roller skating, including skates with wheels and blades.
The stone laid down by township workers is the sub-base that an asphalt base and top courses will be constructed upon, said Township Engineer Tom Timko.
Timko said that contractor, Halecon Inc of Bridgewater, is expected to begin work on the new surface and drainage design within a few weeks.
Completion time for the job will depend on the weather and should take two to three weeks to finish, Timko said.
For various reasons, it took the Township Committee five times to find a contractor to resurface, regrade and install a drainage system at the rink at a price that was within a budget that had been recalculated a number of times.
The township's four other attempts at hiring a contractor with an acceptable proposal had failed before during 2011 and 2012. However, in September, the committee awarded a $121,660 contract for the job, having partially lowered the price by commissioning the township's public works employees to perform part of the groundwork.
Timko told the Township Committee in early September that the goal is to have the resurfacing done and the rink reopened later this year.
The rink has been closed for about two years, with officials blaming poor drainage for the cracking.
Timko said in September the contractor will repave and install French drains to improve drainage, and regrade around the outside of the rink. The contractor also may repair some pieces of the wall, which Timko the DPW workers will re-install once the rink itself is done and the fence repaired.
Timko and McArthur had noted that during part of the bidding process, the township had been sued by a resident who sought to have the township do more research or rewrite the bids to make the installation of a plastic tile rink surface rather than the asphalt.
Resident Douglas Wicks had contended that the township could install a plastic tile surface and did not need to make drainage improvements, even attempting to have a Superior Court judge require further investigation into that solution. His legal bid failed.