For Wyckoff Parks and Rec Foundation, $3.8M Field Rehab is a Local Effort
The WPRF is looking toward partnerships with DPW, local businesses and community organizations, as well as contributions from individuals and families willing to help offset the cost and then help pay for the multi-million dollar project.
The community at large will play a significant role in the Wyckoff Parks and Recreation Foundation plan to drastically improve the quality of Pulis Field, according to the foundation's president.
The foundation recently presented to the Wyckoff Planning Board a detailed proposal to construct two regulation-size artificial turf fields ringed by 6 remote controlled lighting fixtures, a smaller unlit natural turf field adjacent to an expanded parking lot, a substantial forested buffer, and an extension of Charles Avenue.
Stephen Boswell, the foundation's engineer, elaborated on plans for the $3.8 million field improvements, but little was elucidated on how the WPRF — a volunteer organization — would come up with the substantial capital necessary to complete the project.
Wyckoff Patch recently spoke to WPRF President Chris Vanuga who detailed his initial 3-pronged strategy for raising funds and lower costs for the improvements at the athletic field behind the Wyckoff YMCA.
Scoring on an Assist from the DPW
Vanuga said an important first step in the public/private enterprise between the foundation — a 501 (c)(3) — and the township would be to chip away at the $3.8 million cost estimate floated by Boswell Engineering.
Scott Fisher and the Department of Public Works have offered to volunteer to help with "site prep, demolition, moving berms, excavating," and the like, he said.
It was just a matter of sitting down with the DPW chief and going through a number of line items and figuring out exactly how much they would be able to cut out of the preliminary cost.
"We're trying to come out with a net number budget to pay a service provider," Vanuga said, and the more help he can get from Fisher's department the lower the estimate he's likely to get back from potential contractors when the township puts the project out to bid.
Fisher recently told Wyckoff Patch that his department was ready to pitch-in in any way possible with the blessing of the committee and provided the department's typical service to the township was first met.
"We still have a ways to go," Vanuga said, but reducing the project cost line item by line item with the help of Fisher and the DPW would be a step he envisions knocking a "few hundred thousand dollars" off cost.
As of last week the only vendor signed on to work on the project was Musco Lighting, which presented its lighting plans at the friendly planning board hearing earlier this month.
"We just got approval," Vanuga said. "Now we can move forward."
The township also secured a a commitment of $50,000 from Bergen County's Open Space Trust Fund to be directly applied for turf at Pulis, as reported previously. That $50,000 cash infusion from the county would be triggered once a matching dollar amount from a township sinking fund was invested in the project.
A Local Improvement Project, Locally Financed
Beyond the cooperation of the DPW's important role, a diverse group of of local businesses are being asked to take on a significant function in the funding of the project.
"We're very fortunate that in this town we have a number of individuals that have services or materials that can be used in this project," Vanuga said. "We need things like piping, lighting, gravel, paving, trees and landscaping."
"We're asking for organizations that want to be involved in this project to contribute some of their product or their services or make a donation to us in a way [that will] ultimately reduce what the cost of the project is."
Getting approval from the planning board was a big step for the group, Vanuga said. The board's OK enabled the foundation to go out and seek corporate sponsorships.
Local businesses have already been associated with the community improvement project.
When the foundation held one of its first fundraisers, an Oktoberfest that Vanuga called a "tremendous success," a surfeit of families and businesses were attached to the event including: The Market Basket, Prestige BMW, Blue Moon Mexican Cafe, The Muller Family, Joseph M. Sanzari, Inc., Valley Stables Restaurant, The Roberts Family.
The event raked in more than $100,000 for the foundation and the Pulis Field project, Vanuga said.
Another Oktoberfest event is already lined up for later this year.
"It's a very important event for us," Vanuga said.
"There might be some kind of company out there that wants to contribute but has [no specific product] to give," Vanuga said. Those groups would be more than welcome to contribute financially.
The Wyckoff Torpedoes have already committed to giving a half million dollars, Vanuga said.
"They were the first to commit, they announced their contribution at last year's Octoberfest," Vanuga said.
The YMCA has pledged to contribute a "substantial amount" to the project, Vanuga said, though the exact dollar amount hadn't been finalized as of June 28.
"The Y’s intention is to be a major contributor on all fronts and work tirelessly to help make the project happen in the near future," said Wyckoff YMCA Executive Director Joy Vottero. "There are still many particulars that need to be finalized, so I am not at liberty to discuss specific points, but I am certain that we will be talking in the very near future."
Vottero said that in addition to financial contributions the Y plans to continue working with the township and Wyckoff Parks and Recreation Foundation "to create ways of maintaining the turf site and preserving it for years to come."
The third area of fundraising for the group would be a mass appeal to township residents.
"Let's Take What We Have and Make it Better"
"We want everyone to contribute whatever they can to this — if a family wants to give $10 we're open to that," Vanuga said.
WPRF has already set up a simple method for individuals to donate via a PayPal form linked on its website — as well as a donation card offering 5 levels of sponsorship: Platinum ($25,000;) Gold ($10,000;) Silver ($5,000;) Bronze ($2,500;) and Family ($1,000.)
As is typical with projects similar to this, the foundation is looking at recognizing contributors at different levels of sponsorship with any number of incentives, such as benches, plaques, and so on.
Vanuga spoke at length about his positive experiences with the community coming together for this project.
"We've been able to pull together not only concerned residents and parents — many of our kids have already left the nest, and all of us didn't really have a lot of personal investment in this," Vanuga said, stressing that the Pulis Field improvement was an investment in the future of Wyckoff. "It's not just having a new field, it's asking, 'Why do people love this town? Why do people move here?'"
"Let's take what we have and make it better, make it safer," he said. "We're all doing it for the right reasons."
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