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TAINTED FIELDS TO BE RE-SODDED

Basie field work72Contractors working on the midfield at Count Basie Fields earlier this week raked out contaminated soil from the same loads used at East Side Park, borough officials confirmed.

Playing fields at Red Bank’s East Side Park, where soil containing shards of glass and other debris was laid down late last year, are scheduled to be resodded tomorrow, borough officials report.

Meantime, some of the same contaminated soil was also used to rehabilitate a portion of the football field at Count Basie Fields, redbankgreen has learned.

Like the field at East Side Park, Count Basie’s has been raked out and will be covered with clean topsoil and fresh sod, says borough Administrator Stanley Sickels.

Basie dirt pile72Stones and other debris were visible in a small pile of soil remaining from the Count Basie Fields project earlier this week.

A complaint to the mayor and council Monday that the East Side facility’s fields were contaminated with glass, bits of ceramics and large stones prompted Councilman Mike DuPont to call for a criminal investigation.

Today, Sickels tells us that the borough bought the soil directly from the vendor, Route 34 Landscape Supply Yard in Wall Township, paying $1,150 for a couple of truckloads on November 17.

“The description [on the invoice] was ‘topsoil,'” Sickels says. “We don’t feel we got topsoil. We got contaminated fill.”

He said the borough would be seeking a full refund.

Route 34 Landscape owner Mike Baldasare said he would have no immediate comment.

Still, borough employees put down the soil at two locations, Sickels says. He says he is trying to determine which employees were involved and why no one called a stop to the work.

The presence of the debris did not become an issue until February, when soccer coaches met at East Side Park to check out playing conditions.

At that point, the problem was brought to his attention, Sickels says. 

It was then that public works director Gary Watson, who was “very upset” that tainted soil had been applied, organized a “military line” of employees to cross the field and pick up debris, Sickels says. But when it became clear that that approach wouldn’t be effective, a turf consultant was called in.

The consultant advised that the soil be thoroughly raked and screened, then covered with clean fill and new sod. The sod will cost the borough $4,000, he says.

“We think we’ll remove most of the debris, but that’s why we’re putting down sod, because we can’t be sure,” Sickels says. The addition of new soil and turf is expect to make the field safe for play, and should be ready in a few weeks.

Meantime, the football field at Count Basie Field was already slated to be resodded when the problem soil became an issue, Sickels said. That project, which involves the area between the hash marks — the most heavily used portion — will cost $9,000.

Count Basie Field is owned by the Red Bank Board of Education but leased to the borough, which in turn shares usage and maintenance costs with Red Bank Catholic High School. Last week, the board rebuffed an overture by RBC to talk about a possible purchase of the facility.

An effort to obtain $250,000 in Monmouth County funding for a year-round artificial turf field at the site failed late last year. But Sickels says the borough has gotten a committment from the state Department of Environmental Protection of $287,500 toward the project, estimated to cost $1.15 million, and is seeking additional grants.

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