MIDDLETOWN, NJ – The Middletown Board of Education and Township Committee gathered with local youth at Nut Swamp Elementary School to dedicate a new synthetic turf field in time for the school year.

“It’s amazing to think a few months ago, this spot was an uneven field of grass,” said Mayor Gerard P. Scharfenberger. “Today it’s a top-notch facility I am proud to dedicate to our youngest sports enthusiasts.”

The turf field, dedicated on September 6, is located Nut Swamp Elementary School adjacent to Normandy Park. It’s open to students and local athletic leagues for football, soccer, field hockey, lacrosse and other sports. The site includes bleachers, goal posts and nets as well permanent markings for various sports.

T&M Associates served as Consulting Engineer for the project and Precise Construction as the General Contractor. In addition to the turf field, a grass soccer field has been created in the space between the turf field and the school. The grass field, however, will not be ready for play until 2014, Township Engineer and Public Works Director Ted Maloney said.

This joint project is the first step in a recent shared-services agreement struck between Middletown Township and the Public School District for joint maintenance and periodic upgrades of township and school athletic fields over the next decade. Under the agreement, the school district contributed $250,000 to the $1.16 million project at Nut Swamp School. The municipal share will be paid for with increases to recreation fees that were approved last year. The township will handle issuing permits to use the field, said Township Administrator Anthony Mercantante.

“This is a testament to the unprecedented spirit of cooperation between the Township Committee and BOE that is benefitting every resident in Middletown,” Scharfenberger said.

Meanwhile, Middletown Township has moved forward with several improvement projects at township facilities this season. Construction of Clearwater Fields is nearly complete. The two baseball fields, located adjacent to Conifer Village on Route 36, should be ready for play by the Spring of 2014. Water access for irrigation and drinking fountains was made possible through a shared services agreement with Atlantic Highlands, Scharfenberger said.  

Improvements have also been made to the baseball fields at Normandy Park located on Nut Swamp Road; the lower soccer field on West Front Street near Everett Road; and the lower soccer field at Lincroft Acres located on Orchard. What’s more, asphalt pathways and accessible parking have been added to Normandy Park and Bodman Park, located off Market Street, Maloney said.

The township is working on electrical improvements at the Kunkel Park, located off Brevent Avenue in Leonardo. Locals, including an Eagle Scout and area residents, have volunteered to help to spruce up the park where a roller hockey rink is located.

Next year, township and school officials are expect to construct a second synthetic turf field on the north end of town, possibly at Thorne Middle School and Harmony Elementary School, which are adjacent to each other, Mercantante said.

Synthetic turf does not need to be watered or cut, requiring less regular maintenance and less expense than traditional grass, explained Mercantante.