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$3.8M Pulis Field Project Unveiled

Wyckoff Planning Board held a friendly hearing Wednesday and heard from those looking to improve the fields as well as those with residential interests

The group planning a $3.8 million project to improve one Wyckoff field moved a giant step closer to its goals following a Planning Board meeting Wednesday night.  

The Wyckoff Parks and Recreation Foundation presented its plans to construct two regulation-size artificial turf fields ringed by 6 remote controlled lighting fixtures, a smaller unlit natural turf field, a substantial forested buffer, and an extension of Charles Avenue — from its current termination point at West Main Street — to Spring Meadow Drive. 

Stephen Boswell, the foundation's engineer, laid out the plans in front of a standing room only crowd. A substantial contingency of the attendants were residents of Spring Meadow condominium, an adult living facility that abuts the proposed property and the YMCA. 

Some Spring Meadow residents had . They expressed concerns over traffic, noise and field lighting. But over the past 16 months the foundation and a number of township officials have been in communication with the association. 

"We've had a very positive relationship," Spring Meadows Condominium Association President Kathleen Smith said before the meeting. "We've seen all the plans so everything should go smoothly." 

And smoothly it went — a majority of the evening was spent detailing the project and some of the compromises that had been agreed upon by both parties to the public and planning board. 

Michael Kates, representing the condominium association, said he was please with the collaborative effort, but laid out a list of issues he felt needed to be clarified following recent talks.

His seven points included clarifications on maximum brightness and specific usage of the field lights, a redesign of lights in the parking lot, maintenance guarantees of the landscaping adjacent to Spring Meadow, performance guarantees, and a curfew for field lights.

The two groups were in agreement on most points, but further discussion need to take place regarding the exact time field lights needed go dark.

"All those issues except for the one are acceptable," said Foundation President Chris Vanuga. "The hours of operation [of the lights] ... are out of our purview."

The decision on lighting would fall to the township, specifically the Parks and Recreation Board, Vanuga added.

Currently, Recreation Director Andy Wingfield said, the lights at Memorial Field are allowed to be on until 10 p.m. — and sometimes as late as 10:15 p.m.

"Just because they're allowed to be on until 10 o'clock doesn't mean they are," Wingfield said. "As soon as the games are over we give the coaches and the players 15 minutes to get out and we shut the lights off."

Mayor Chris DePhillips asked Wingfield if he believed town law gave the Rec Department the ability to keep the Pulis Field lights on until 10 p.m. as well.

"Absolutely," Wingfield said.

Having to shut the lights off earlier would negatively impact the ability of the Rec Department to conduct its business, Wingfield said.

"Sometimes you just have to get three games in on the night... we start them at 6 o'clock those games may go to 9:30, 9:45 [p.m.] On those nights I would need the flexibility to leave them on until 10 o'clock," Wingfield said.

A number of residents who live in the area near Charles Avenue and West Main Street complained about a potential increase in traffic and noise there.

When it came to a vote by the planning board, members unanimously voted for the project. 

"Being a lifelong resident of the Township of Wyckoff there are a number of things that make Wyckoff great and I agree one of them is the volunteerism that came together to put this together for the safety and well-being of our children... I applaud your efforts," Planning Board Member and Committeeman Doug Christie said. "I think it's fantastic — you don't have to go out to our resident and ask for more tax dollars. You've done a wonderful job going out and meeting with the Spring Meadow folks and you've incorporated everyone." 

SMCA President Smith said she was "delighted" following the outcome of the Wednesday night meeting.

Planning board member Jaime McGuire recused herself from the friendly hearing due to a perceived conflict — her husband Peter McGuire serves on the township Recreation Board and she has served on the 's board, she said.

Beyond continuing discussions between the WPRF and the SMCA, the next step in the process would likely be a concerted fundraising initiative. 

The Foundation is holding a fundraiser tonight at .

"The vast majority of the expenses of this project — more than 95 percent — will be generously borne by our community, our residents, our neighbors, local businesses, the Torpedoes Soccer Club, the Wyckoff Y, and other private interests, all of whom are unselfishly digging deep to fund this project," DePhillips said Wednesday evening. "Every taxpayer in this community will benefit from this project because this project is literally saving the taxpayers millions of dollars."

DePhillips said Thursday that the township had contributed $105,000 over the past three budget cycles to a sinking fund meant for improvements at Wyckoff parks — not just Pulis.

Additionally, the township has already received a commitment of $50,000 from Bergen County's Open Space Trust Fund to be directly applied for turf at Pulis.

Just how much money WPRF has in its coffers at the moment is unclear, though it is believed they have already done a substantial amount of fundraising.

Chris Vanuga didn't return calls for comment Thursday morning.

Stay with Wyckoff Patch for more on the Pulis Project.

For more on the history of Pulis Field check out these stories:

Have a question or news tip? Contact editor Joseph M. Gerace at Joseph.Gerace@patch.com, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox every morning, sign up for our daily newsletter.

NLTITAN June 15, 2012 at 09:19 AM
Are you guys just trying to find more places to spend money in Wyckoff? How about going after Ridgewater first!!! The Library is beautiful but come on - this day and age computers are writing our kids papers!!!

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