Planning under way for sports facilities

Staff Writer

HOWELL — The $10 million Monmouth Athletic Center still has a few obstacles to overcome before any actual construction can take place.

“We have six to seven months of engineering work ahead of us,” said T.J. Coan, one of the principals. “I would say probably sometime in the new year we’ll have an application before one of the boards in Howell.”

The developers had originally planned to build a commercial athletic complex on Fairfield Road in three phases, but because of the legal costs associated with the project and the poor economy, the project will be built in six phases, he said.

“We want to build a state-of-the-art facility,” Coan said.

State Superior Court Judge Lawrence Lawson recently approved a settlement that withdraws three lawsuits associated with the project. Once the judge signs off on the settlement, the actual engineering work can begin, Coan said.

Plans call for the construction of six buildings in the sports complex, which will be on a 45-acre lot on the east side of Fairfield Road, 1,300 feet south of Route 33.

Objectors in the past said the athletic complex belonged on Route 9 in a more populated section of Howell, but Coan disagreed.

“We can’t build it on Route 9 for planning and traffic reasons,” he said. “We want to create a campus. We don’t want another big box on Route 9.”

The project will include facilities for separate athletic clubs: one for members and the others for students from schools in the area, Coan said.

“We want to avoid any conflicts between our members and the schools,” he said.

The project is slated to include two 25- meter pools, one indoors and one outdoors. The outdoor pool will operate as a separate facility in the summer. The pool will be enclosed during the rest of the year by a dome and used for swimming and training programs for public school swim teams, he said.

The indoor pool will be set aside for use only by club members.

One building will feature an adult health club and wellness spa, a rehabilitation pool, a weight room for teenagers, four basketball courts and a suspended indoor track. There will also be a baseball field, batting cages, a football field, a soccer field and several multipurpose fields, Coan said.

He stressed that any competitions would be between members only. The athletic center was not designed to accommodate competitions with non-member sports groups or for spectator sports, he said.

The developer has agreed to provide sanitary sewer and road improvements by hooking into a pump station and force main for the Liberty Greens development across from the site, Coan said.