More than three months after Hurricane Sandy brought down trees and debris throughout Mahwah, three of the township’s fields – Riverside Park in West Mahwah, Memorial Field at the corner of Airmount Road and Airmont Ave., and Continental Soldier’s Field – have post-storm damage that officials say could impact the upcoming spring sports season if it is not addressed.
Wednesday night during a budget hearing, the township council verbally approved a $23,450 addition to the Department of Public Works 2013 budget so that it could fix the damage at the three township parks, which officials said resulted mostly from downed trees breaking fences and other parts of the fields.
According to DPW Director Keith Hallissey, Riverside Park sustained the most damage during the storm, as a willow tree fell on the backstop fence, and “totally destroyed it.”
A downed tree in the middle of Memorial Field also took out some fencing, and there are some more minor repairs that need to be done at Continental, Hallissey said.
The township submitted claims to its insurance company and to FEMA to help offset the cost of the repairs, but said it likely would not receive payment until after the spring sports season starts. Waiting to make the repairs would be too late for sports like youth baseball and softball, which play games on the damaged fields.
The fields “are unsafe,” Councilman Harry Williams said Wednesday night. “They are unplayable, so we don’t have a choice. We either repair them, or we have to tell the kids they’re not playing ball this year.”
Hallissey said the DPW will have the fallen trees cleared before baseball season starts on April 1, and with the money appropriated Wednesday night, will contract for the repairs to be made by then, too.
The repairs, he said, will be prioritized in order of severity, with Continental Soldiers, the least impacted, getting fixed first, and Riverside last.
“That is definitely the biggest job,” he said.
The township anticipates being reimbursed by FEMA for at least some of the costs of the repairs, officials said.