North Bergen is moving forward with improvements to 46th Street Field amid opposition from some residents.
Mayor Nicholas Sacco and the North Bergen Board of Commissioners adopted an ordinance at the July 13 meeting to appropriate grant funds for improvements to 46th Street Field.
The ordinance authorizes the use of $500,000 from the Hudson County Open Space Trust Fund for the 46th Street Field Improvement Project. The township previously applied for the grant funding back in December of 2021.
The project also has the support of the state of New Jersey. Sacco previously said that there was approximately $5 million in the state budget for the field improvements.
Improvements slated for park and field
The park is currently home to a playground, a basketball court, a baseball field, and a pedestrian walkway surrounding the baseball field as well as other amenities.
For the park area, the township is looking to: put in new playground equipment; resurface the basketball courts and outfit them with new backboards and rims; install new sheltered park benches; create an expanded splash park; repave the pedestrian walkway; repave the parking lot and add new spaces; install a trench system for draining; renovate the restrooms and storage building; relocate the dog run; create a new regular seating area; install new fencing; repair the existing staircase; and install new in-ground trash receptacles throughout the park.
For the ball field area, North Bergen is seeking to: install synthetic turf for both baseball and softball that includes a synthetic shock absorption for safety; put in a drainage system; replace the light fixtures and fencing; install a press box, covered bleachers, an on-field ball pens and new dugouts.
However, despite the planned upgrades, some residents took issue with the new parking lot that is part of the plan. A number of locals said the open space that would be paved over to make the parking lot was important to them.
Some residents oppose, some in favor
Normally meetings are devoid of any public comment, sometimes with attendance only consisting of the board and members of the media. But when the ordinance was introduced on June 22, the chambers were packed with residents, although few actually spoke.
According to the residents that did vocalize concerns about the project, the green area currently defined by a path and shade trees is a valuable space to those who use the park. They argued there was already a parking lot there for the baseball field, and that the lot should be more strictly enforced against residents in the neighborhood who park there regularly instead of paving over green space. In addition, the residents opposed to the improvements were worried that creating more parking would only bring more cars and worsen the parking problem.
Meanwhile, other residents favored the park upgrades. They said the additional parking was needed, the trees that would be removed would be replaced, and that further nitpicking the project could delay the already long-overdue and much-needed renovations.
Amid the debate and showing of residents at the meetings when it was both introduced and up for public hearing, the township stuck with its plans and adopted the ordinance with the parking lot as intended. To qualm concerns, the board held a special meeting to hear public comment and go over the planned improvements following the July 13 meeting.
Follow-up meeting and presentation
At the July 20 meeting, the Director of the Department of Parks and Public Property made a brief presentation followed by a question-and-answer period. All residents were encouraged to attend and participate to be heard regarding the park improvements.
The next meeting of the North Bergen Board of Commissioners is on August at 6 p.m. in the municipal chambers in Town Hall at 4233 Kennedy Boulevard. For more information, go to northbergen.org.
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