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Ridge Baseball Club Request to Turf Infields Remains at Stalemate

Overflow parking from the field complex on Valley Road remains an issue.

The Ridge Baseball complex on Valley Road may be under snow now, but it will be alive with spring programs in a few months. By Linda Sadlouskos
The Ridge Baseball complex on Valley Road may be under snow now, but it will be alive with spring programs in a few months. By Linda Sadlouskos
The Ridge Baseball Club's request for township permission to install synthetic turf — at the club's expense — remains stalled at the beginning of the new year, even as the club begins signing up baseball and t-ball players for spring programs.

The issue remains overflow parking from the township-owned field complex on Valley Road, even though in October the Township Committee enacted parking restrictions on some neighboring streets.

Because the township owns the property, and late last year, Township Administrator Bruce McArthur said in a report that a major change, such as turf installation, would require the baseball club's long-term lease with the municipality to be redone.

Township officials also have maintained that fall programs and an increase in traffic coming from out of town teams, especially during tournaments, have worsened parking on neighboring streets in recent years.

"I think as soon as Ridge Baseball resolves the parking problems, we can talk about turf fields," newly-appointed Mayor John Carpenter said this week. He said there are multiple ways the issue can be addressed, including scheduling or arranging off-site parking.

Carpenter said he wants to see the club come up with a parking solution before the turf fields could be approved. However, other members of the committee have said they would like to first see in writing that off-site parking arrangements have been made instead of pushing parking off the limited lot areas on the property.

But Ridge Baseball president Greg Egnatuk said that the club made the proposal for installing the synthetic turf in the infields at the baseball complex a year or more ago — and has committed in writing to providing off site parking for tournaments such as those held on Memorial Day and July 4 should the need arise.

The letter with that proposal is part of the minutes of a previous Township Committee meeting, Egnatuk said.

Meanwhile, he said, township officials keep saying that the proposal is "under consideration." But Egnatuk said that the RBC wants something in writing from the township that the synthetic turf field will be approved if the club goes through the expense and effort to arrange off-site parking.

He also contended that it is not true that the number of players involved in the program _ previously over 1,000 — has dropped. Instead, he said the number is split with about 800 players in the recreation program, and another 200 to 300 in a traveling program.

The baseball club representatives and township officials have met in the past to discuss the parking issue on the public streets on the other side of Valley Road, where some neighbors had complained that attendees at the baseball games clog their streets and sometimes create an unsafe situation.

In October, following several months of discussions and a township survey on neighboring streets, the Township Committee voted 4-1 to prohibit parking on some of the streets that supposedly are receiving overflow parking from the complex on Valley Road.

The ordinance prohibits parking — other than for residents who were to be given laminated permits — on both sides of Wedgewood Drive from March 15 to Halloween, and on the west side of Spring Valley Road from Valley Road to Baldwin Court and on the east side of Spring Valley Blvd. to Compton Court at all times.
CT January 08, 2014 at 06:22 AM
So, in other words, the Township Committee is holding approval for the turf hostage until the Baseball Committee comes up with solutions for parking. One shouldn't affect the other. Shame on the TC for playing quid pro quo backroom politics at the expense of the children who use these fields.
Andrew Hartjen January 08, 2014 at 12:33 PM
As a former home run hitter on these fields I would have to say that making these fields into turf is not something most kids would want. I know that when I was growing up , every kid wanted to play a nice pristine baseball field with dirt and grass. Just like Yankee stadium. Turf is not the way to go. I think leaving it the way it is now is the best choice. The way baseball was intended to play.

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