By Jay Cook
HOLMDEL – The idea of building a new sports complex in one of Holmdel’s largest recreational areas was kicked around at a township committee meeting last week.
The proposal would comprise two collegiate-size turf fields customized for soccer and lacrosse on the 80-acre recreational-use portion of Cross Farm Park, located at Longbridge Road and Newman Springs Road (CR-520).
Holmdel Mayor Eric Hinds believes the expansion would benefit both recreational sports and local schools in the township.
“We have a problem in town because we have 50 soccer teams, we have a lacrosse program that has tripled in size,” said the mayor. “So the concept was that the terms (of the project) would provide a bigger scope of playability than grass.”
Hinds noted that there is only one turf field in town, which is in “terrible condition,” found at Holmdel High School. The construction of a new turf field on that site would be considered as well.
“It also allows us to partner with the schools,” he said. “We have a great relationship with the schools and they really need a turf field with their middle school’s programs that today have to be bussed all over the place to play their games.”
Recently, the students at William R. Satz school have been traveling to Village School on McCampbell Road for both lacrosse and soccer games.
Cross Farm Park was first acquired by Holmdel Township in August of 1979. As it currently stands, there are 123 acres of property in total, which span the length of Longbridge Road, the roadway that separates the township park from county-run Thompson Park.
The last expansion done at the park was in 2004, when the concessions building was built.
Throughout the year, depending on the type of sport, a total of 16 fields are in use at spacious Cross Farm Park, which consist of four baseball fields, three lacrosse fields and nine soccer fields.
The two-turf field proposal at the scenic park will be done “tastefully,” Hinds said, because its placement will be on the backside of the farms, “not where the soccer fields are now, but almost by where the baseball fields are.”
Also included in the plan is a 4-foot-high fence around the perimeter of the fields and either higher fencing or netting behind the goals, small bleachers (possibly four to five rows high) and a new parking lot in the southern end of the park that would serve both the baseball fields as well as the new turf fields, according to township administrator Donna Vieiro.
An increase in the numbers of portable toilets is also included.
Nearly 100 residents attended the hour and 45-minute special public meeting with officials on July 26, according to township clerk’s office.
Hinds said that while it technically was a township meeting, in his eyes, he viewed it a little differently.
“At the end of the day, I want to listen to everybody and just make sure that we’re not missing anything,” he said. “That’s why, as a committee, we did this as a workshop.”
Not included in the proposal is the addition of tall permanent light fixtures to be put in place at the complex. For the past 15 years, portable lights fueled by diesel have been used at the fields.
“I want to be perfectly clear, the plan that we recommended did not include permanent lights,” the mayor said. “The public started asking for permanent lights. Right now, that is not the plan.”
The proposal at the park would also nearly double the number of parking spots, from 350 to 600 spots.
This possible influx of visitors is an issue that worries Holmdel resident Robert O’Hanlon, who lives nearby.
“We normally don’t get that much traffic, but we do get a lot of traffic from people that are misguided or misdirected that end up coming over here, especially on those days where you have games and the tournaments,” said the Old Mill Road resident, who can see the park from his front porch.
O’Hanlon mentioned that while there are no current issues with speeding on his street, the signage on County Road 520 for the park is lacking.
“There’s a service road and a lot of people come down Old Mill Road thinking that the parking lot is over here somewhere, because the signage is so bad on 520,” said O’Hanlon. “Sometimes we see just car, after car, after car on our block.”
Although O’Hanlon mentioned he did not want to be “a NIMBY” (not in my back yard) person, the possible additions of new portable toilets on the site raises concern as well.
“If they are going to put porta-johns out there, at least have them concealed, so that the people like us on Old Mill Road, we don’t have to see those things while we’re looking out our dining room windows eating dinner,” he said.
Hinds said the governing body welcomes all feedback.
The project is still in its early stages, but ultimately, according to Hinds, a resolution passed by the township committee would set the plan in motion once funds were secured and plans set by the township engineers.
“We felt we could do something for the kids in Holmdel; this is about the kids,” Hinds said. “It’s about giving them an alternative to doing nothing.”
The next Township Committee meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Aug. 16 at Town Hall.
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