SOMA Athletic Field Upgrades

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To Whom It May Concern,

As many of you have noticed and commented on, the sports and recreation fields within the Maplewood/South Orange community do not reflect the vitality of our sports programs and do not do justice to the passions of our student athletes.  A growing and shifting population, increasing popularity of organized athletics, underfunded field maintenance, field neglect and climate change are all contributing factors to the crisis.   Our situation is never more evident than when we travel to neighboring NJ towns and witness, firsthand, the incredible facilities they enjoy.

The upcoming Board of Education Capital Plan, being voted on November 19, can start the ball rolling on upgrading our fields.  The current plan has a ‘wish list’ that includes re-turfing Underhill field for a cost of $1.2M.  The community has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to impact upgrades with this bond and the time is now to act.

We represent the thousands of area residents who have children active in town youth athletic programs.  These parents have organized; vocally urging the Board of Education to include the following in the master plan covered by the BOE Capital Plan:

1) Replacement of the aging and failing field turf on Underhill Field 

2) Implementation of a field turf surface on the Ritzer complex

3) Installation of field lights on Ritzer complex to allow for evening activity

It is anticipated that these upgrades will total approximately $5 million dollars.

Improving the school facilities in Maplewood/South Orange is long overdue; but it’s imperative the BOE recognizes that youth athletics is a major element of a well-rounded education and inclusion of these field upgrades in the master plan is necessary to deliver on that.  The Capital Plan is focused on student health & safety.  This parent community feels strongly that the focus should extend to their safety on the athletic field, not just the classroom.  We hope the scale of the parental support shown here will influence the BOE to ensure that the field rehabilitation of these two areas become a priority and proper bond funding is allocated for the project.  


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