CARTERET—Mayor Dan Reiman joined with Councilman Randy Krum this week to announce that Carteret Park’s baseball and softball fields are undergoing reconstruction. Made possible by Carteret’s local Open Space referendum, $35,000 has been earmarked for materials needed to upgrade turf and surrounding amenities for Umansky Field and Leniart Field, with another $35,000 for in-house labor.
Adjacent to Carteret Middle School, the fields were first constructed in the 1960s. According to Randy Krum, both fields are used extensively by the middle school and high school, along with the number of recreational leagues the town hosts. Age, usage, and poor drainage have contributed to the deterioration of the fields, according to the Borough Engineering Department.
Both facilities will receive new infields, along with new batters boxes and new pitching mounds. Other upgrades will include new fencing, sidewalk repairs, and drainage improvements for both fields. As a cost saving measure, all work will be performed in-house by the Parks Department, and overseen by the Engineering Department.
“We’re an athletic town,” Reiman said. “A good number of our youngsters learn to set and meet goals through sports, so we are very dependent on our public recreational facilities. I’m sure most residents are well aware of the deteriorated state these fields have reached. They’re also aware of how valuable our parks are to us. Because of this, our residents voted in favor of our Open Space Referendum which has made these and so many other parks improvements possible.”
In October 2004, Reiman and Carteret council members gave a presentation to town residents proposing an increase in the local Open Space levy. The referendum would significantly increase the resources with which local parks, playgrounds, and ball fields are established and maintained by adding 2¢ per $100 of assessed property value to town property dues. The Open Space Referendum appeared on ballots during the November 2004 elections, when voters overwhelmingly approved it to provide for increased dedicated funding for Carteret’s parks.
Carteret’s local Open Space funding has indirectly enabled the borough to engage in 11 major park projects prior to the baseball field improvements. These have included the construction of the Veteran’s Memorial Fishing Pier at Waterfront Park, the new bandstand at Carteret Park, new basketball courts at Chrome Park, a skateboard park upgrade, and the establishment or improvement of various other parks and sports facilities.
The Mayor and Council have established that many more improvements are needed, and residents indicated that the national crime rate among youth is higher in communities that have comparatively poor recreational resources. In addition to providing maintenance to many of the parks’ facilities, Reiman’s administration has proposed the creation of Carteret’s first soccer field and the construction of several new baseball fields.
The Open Space Referendum has provided the town with an additional $200,000 a year in local open space funding, and helped qualify Carteret for millions of dollars in additional state and county grant awards. The referendum is a flat tax that cannot increase without voter approval.
“Quality athletic fields play a big part in the success of our sports programs,” Krum added. “These are great kids – and great athletes. Because we are an active community, and because of the popularity of varsity and recreational athletics, our sports fields undergo substantial wear and tear and require attention that they had not been given in years past. It was great to see the community come out and endorse the 2004 referendum – and the overwhelming number of parks improvements it has made possible.”
Reiman stated that construction is projected for completion by the spring 2009 baseball season.
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