Panther Park Pricetag May Top $3 Million
Cedar Grove redevelopment would include a multi-purpose field, running track, concessions and parking lot.
Cedar Grove leaders are taking a go-slow approach to a redeveloped Panther Park after hearing several different options at Monday night’s township council meeting, officials said.
The original plan, first discussed in September 2012, included a turf multi-purpose field, walking track, concessions and bathrooms and featured three proposals from different firms from March 2012, Town Manager Thomas Tucci said at the time.
The township initially set aside money for a design in the 2012 capital budget but the money was cut back and eventually removed, said Tucci.
Carl O’Brien, a partner at Maser Consulting, presented a preliminary design to the council depicting many different options and possible choices.
“We have come up with several options which could improve the area,” he said.
The field itself, including 160 parking spaces, lighting, bleachers along one side and holds about 500 people and includes a landscape buffer, would cost roughly $2.5 million, said O'Brien.
The $2.5 million does not include the six-lane running track, which would cost an additional $500,000, he said. To add the track, concession stand with bathrooms and another set of bleachers would bring the total closer to $3 million. If the council decided to add the installment of synthetic turf to two adjacent baseball fields, the project would come in at around $4 million.
The $4 million is way outside the scope of what the council initially planned on spending, with only $2.2 million designated in the 2013 budget for the project.
O'Brien said splitting the project into phases — with the first phase including the building of the field, parking lot and one side of bleachers first, followed by the building of the track, concessions and second set of bleachers in phase two, would give the council “the most bang for their buck.”
“Based on the economy and how other projects are rolling out, the numbers could increase or decrease a little bit,” said O'Brien. “I would feel comfortable saying that it would come in right around the engineers estimate and there may be money left over.”
Tucci said the company who did the two ballfields at Panther Park initially estimated $2.3 million for the entire project.
“Three million (dollars) is extremely high for what we plan to do,” said Councilman Joseph Chiusolo. “Whenever you throw out these little numbers and they start adding up, it impacts the taxpayer.”
The track is important, said councilman John Zunic, because the field will only be available for sports while a walking track would be available to everyone.
“We do not have a regulation track anywhere in town,” agreed Mayor Peter Tanella, who added the current recreation track teams have to go to other towns to practice and compete.
In the end, Tanella told O’Brien, “We are not prepared to make a decision either way. We need to take the drawing and the numbers and put it on for another staff meeting for more discussion.”
The council will revisit the issue during its April 15 staff meeting.