Ridge Baseball Turf Field Plan Benched for Now

Proposal to put turf on infields at Ridge Baseball Complex on Valley Road handed off to subcommittee.

The Ridge Baseball Club showed up at Tuesday's Township Committee seeking permission to install artifical turf on the infields of the four athletic fields at the baseball complex off Valley Road — and ended up discussing parking disputes and other concerns by neighbors.

The proposal, submitted in November, according to the agenda, was up for consideration before the Township Committee following preparation of a proposal that has been in the works for more than a year, club members said.

"We spent $10,000 to $15,000 on studies and a map, and did everything zoning and engineering [departments] told us to do," Ron Campione, the Ridge Baseball Club's secretary, said after the Township Committee voted Tuesday to set up a subcommittee to take a closer look at the plan.

"We have to understand it fully," including hearing construction plans, Township Committeewoman Mary Pavlini said during the meeting.

The club, which offers Cal Ripkin baseball leagues for boys and girls ages five through 12, is proposing to install the artificial turf so games can be played soon after inclement weather and not miss games because of rain-outs, and also improve the quality of the fields overall, according to the proposal and club members.

But when the proposal came up for a vote for permission from the Township Committee — since the township owns the land and leases it to the baseball club — Deputy Mayor John Carpenter proposed that it first be placed before a township subcommittee made up of neighbors, members of the Baseball Club and the Township Committee.

The club members were asked to contact the township clerk to arrange the meeting.

Carpenter said the committee had quickly approved a request last year to rename the Little League teams as Cal Ripkin baseball, a change that was supposed to have no impact on parking or other impacts on the neighborhood. However, he said that complaints followed from neighbors soon afterwards.

"This time, we want to be a little more cautious," Carpenter said.

"I know that we have received many letters from both sides," said Mayor Carolyn Gaziano.

She said following the meeting that the township had received about a dozen complaints about the complex, where she said use appears to have intensified and the season extended.

The biggest complaint has been about parking, she said, with neighbors sending in photos of cars parked along both sides of streets such as Wedgewood Drive, and even blocking driveways.

Dan Spina, vice president of Ridge Baseball, said the switch to Cal Ripkin affected the type of baseball played, and not operations at the field. "It had nothing to do with the number of games played."

Spina and other club officials said they had reached out to neighbors and even voluntarily placed orange cones out on one side of nearby streets to alleviate parking issues. Nevertheless, he said he and other club members will try to work out issued on the playing field.

Campione said that fewer games would be rescheduled if games could be played within a half hour after rain on the surf field.

"I don't know if we can afford to put it off if we want to do it this year," Spina added.

Campione said the complex is a community gathering place for families who watch the games and sometimes enjoy dinner at the same time.

Parag Dhagat January 30, 2013 at 07:05 PM
True.....and a while back a local government sponsored park study had suggested that may be more parks are needed. Our population too has grown a lot since 1957! All i am saying is that collective caring may require more fields now than just developing Fortenbacker Field Complex!
Kristine Petraitis January 30, 2013 at 07:15 PM
I disagree..Basking Ridge is a small town and has many, many parks and fields. The Complex is a staple and a gathering place in this town and always has been. The issue is not to expand the complex but to put turf down..this will benefit the children greatly as they will not have to cancel as many games due to weather and can hopefully start the season a bit earlier. For now, parents of many players are traveling to Branchburg, Martinsville and Bridgewater to get their kid's training in..I assume you purchased a home right near the complex and don't have kids that play sports..
Parag Dhagat January 30, 2013 at 07:45 PM
Sure ma'am.....Basking Ridge is a small town...but Bernards Township is much larger.. 28,000 people are a whole lot more than back in 1957's! i do not live near that complex. I am by the Highschool. I purchased my house in 2002! I am a 10 year resident. My child played at the beautiful Fortenbacker Field Complex....and we have some great memories from then. Like i said, that complex can do with renovations and stuff.... i do remember though that, then, the residents near that complex had to deal with some overflow as well. it just must get on their nerves i guess! The population keeps increasing even more! what with the mines now up for redevelopment...and don't you think we will experience a ripple effect from all the 11 million being considered for immigration reform?! Like it or not!! You sure lived during a very sparsely populated past and i do not envy you for that. As you said ' For now, parents of many players are traveling to Branchburg, Martinsville and Bridgewater to get their kid's training'...and all i am saying some more local fields along with a better re-developed Fortenbacher Complex would go a long way. Either that,.. or stop increasing the population inflow somehow!! or try some reverse flow affecting buy-backs!!
Jim February 01, 2013 at 02:28 PM
It's amazing how residents who do not even live near the complex have so much to say. I have been a resident in this town for 65 years. I have dealt with change my entire life. If you cannot deal with change move to Maine. My son was part of the Basking Ridge State championship team that played at this complex. It was this Little League team that put Basking Ridge on the map. Even my grand children have played on these fields. The Ridge Baseball club wants the best for the children of the this town along with making this town better. It's no cost to any taxpayer what so ever. You know I have a big problem with traffic where I live also on a daily basis. But you know what, I have to deal with the change everyday just like everyone else. I would think the town and the people in this town would want the best for the kids and keep up the great image that Basking Ridge has. How can putting turf fields effect wet lands and even parking. It's not like they are adding another baseball field. It's just making it better and safer for our kids to play on. I guess having a car parked in front of your house is more important than knowing that the Families in our town along with the kids are having fun and being safe. Again. You would think the town would help out the best they could in making this happen.
Catherine Hartjen March 02, 2013 at 01:18 PM
My son played Little League at this complex and it was the greatest time of our lives. He was so fortunate to have played under one of the greatest coaches this town has ever known. A man who taught him grace and that you can accomplish anything if you want it enough. A gentle soul who helped to make my son what he is today. I am so grateful that he has been given the honor of a field in his name. My son was lucky enough to have played on two Championship teams at this complex , with the first under a man of great honor. These were the happiest times for us and I miss them when I drive by the complex. What is better than the sound of a ball being hit off a bat. Spring is here again and I can't wait for the season to start. By the way I am a mom who loves this game. I always knew my son was happy and safe when he was at the ballpark. Every year a new coach and a new team of friends what is better?


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