basie shade 081116 3Lunchtime at Count Basie Fields, where a bit of shade is hard to find. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)


HOT-TOPIC_03It was pretty much roasting at Red Bank’s Count Basie Fields last Thursday morning as a dozen or so day campers huddled under a pop-up tent. On site supervisor Rose Sestito’s cellphone, the Weather Channel app registered a “feels like” reading of 100 degrees.

It was even hotter out on the rubberized artificial turf where the kids had just been playing, said a sweat-soaked counselor, cooling his heels inside the snack bar while a bunch of his colleagues crowed beneath the shade of rare tree on the sprawling facility’s grounds.

canopy bench 081216A canopy-covered pair of benches, above, and a larger shade structure, below, of the types contemplated for three borough parks, according to officials. (Click to enlarge.)

canopy 081216 2Finding shelter from the summer sun at Basie Fields is not easy, and it recently became more difficult when the wind damaged one of two portable tents, Sestito said.

“Sometimes we have to take the hose out and squirt the kids,” she told the borough council last week.

But relief may be coming next summer. The borough council hopes to land a Monmouth County Open Space grant to cover half the anticipated $425,000 of installing canopy-covered benches, dugout covers and freestanding “four-posts-and-a-roof huts” at Basie Fields, Mohawk Pond and Eastside Park, said Councilman Mark Taylor.

The bench installations, with seating facing in opposite directions, would be placed between ballfields to allow spectators to watch games, he said. One of the large open-sided structures would be built between the park’s southern entry gate and the concession stand. An information kiosk is also included in the plan.

The need for more shade has been talked about for years, said parks and recreation director Charlie Hoffmann.

“Since the park is so highly used, adding shade would be a major value-add for hundreds of park-goers,” he said. “We want to do everything we can to keep our athletes, patrons and guests as safe as possible.”

The grant application deadline is September 14.