MORE TURF MAY COME TO BASIE FIELDS

scan-22An engineer’s rendering of the proposed upgrades to Count Basie Fields. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Red Bank is hoping to go grassless at Count Basie Fields.

Borough Engineer Christine Ballard is submitting a $500,000 state grant application to help pay for a $2.2 million turf renovation to two fields plus a half-mile gravel path along portions of the park’s perimeter.

If the borough can pull in funding for the project, Basie fields would be completely composed of the synthetic grass. Six months ago, the borough opened up its near $900,000 turf football and soccer field.

Unlike that project, the scope and price tag for this project is twice as large. But the borough intends to fund it in a similar way, Ballard said.

If Red Bank is awarded the half-million from the state, that will be combined with a $250,000 county grant that’s already been secured. Ballard said she also intends to reach out to a national baseball organization for some money, and suggested that Red Bank Catholic, which kicked in for the last upgrade and has a lease on field space, may be inclined to open its checkbook again.

The rest of the money would likely come from borough taxpayers and be financed by a bond, she said.

If the grant doesn’t come in at the requested amount, or at all, the scope of the work would shrink, she said.

But assuming all funding comes through, the borough would lay down artificial turf at the two softball and baseball fields, Ballard said. Plans also call for a gravel walking/running path around those fields.

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In other Basie field news, council members made good on a promise to adjust the park’s hours so early risers can get their exercise in.

Following a meeting with about 35 West Side residents who pushed public officials to open the gates earlier, the council acceded to their request. The park will now be open from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. for the foreseeable future.

“At least in the summer and spring, when it’s light,” Mayor Pasquale Menna said. “It makes all the sense in the world.”