Maintaining baseball fields adds up for township, school district

The township had a $328,000 budget in 2005 for park and field maintenance, while the school district focuses more limited resources on maintaining the varsity and junior varsity baseball fields at the high school.

By: Melissa Edmond
   The township, aided by county grants and more economic resources, might be in a better position to maintain all of its 16 baseball fields, officials say.
   The school district spends most of its money maintaining the varsity and junior varsity baseball fields at the high school. Other fields on school property are often left without improvements needed by Little League teams — like bathrooms or dugouts — because the schools only use them briefly for gym classes.
   "I think our maintenance department does an outstanding job of maintaining our competitive fields. I think we have some of the nicest fields in the county," said Assistant Superintendent for Business Tom Venanzi about the four fields at the Hillsborough High School.
   He said $40,000 is set aside each year for the materials for the upkeep of all the outdoor athletic fields.
   He couldn’t give a specific number for how much is spent annually on the manpower used to maintain the fields.
   "I would like to have more manpower for other fields but we don’t have the manpower or economic resources to maintain the fields at the elementary schools that have limited use," he said. "We have a difficult enough time keeping up with the demands of our athletic teams."
   Mr. Venanzi said the two fields at Auten Road Intermediate School were in good condition, the two fields at Hillsborough Middle School and two fields at Amsterdam Elementary School were in fair condition.
   He said the other fields were in poor condition, including the fields at Sunnymead Elementary School, Woodfern Elementary School, Woods Road Elementary School, and Triangle Elementary School.
   The township, on the other hand, had a $328,000 budget in 2005 for park and field maintenance, according to Recreation Director Rich Resavy who said all of the township fields are in excellent condition and well-maintained. He said the Department of Public Works provides extra manpower to the Recreation Department during the spring and fall seasons.
   The township also received $130,000 from 2000 to 2005 from the Youth Athletic and Recreation Facility Grant Program, according to the Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders.
   The township made improvements to Mark Singley Park, Docherty Park, Woodfield Estates, Village Green Park and Ann Van Middlesworth Park.
   The latter two parks contain the only fields in Hillsborough that Little League President Tony Malda deemed safe for his players, other than the fields at their own Youth Baseball Complex.
   The township received $25,000 in 2001 for reconstruction of two ball fields at Village Green Park on Brooks Boulevard and $25,000 in 2003 and $15,000 in 2004 to replace lighting and make other improvements.