Former Coach: ‘Turf Field Still Not Ready’
A former Junior Bengals football coach complained to the Barnegat Township Committee Monday night that the multi-sport artifical turf field at Lower Shore Road “is not close to be being done,” and the town should have opted for a natural grass surface instead.
Earlier this year, the township used $28,000 from Open Space funds to have the turf shipped from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. Steve Cotton, president of the Junior Bengals, said the turf had served as the playing field for Navy/Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, where the Navy Midshipmen football team plays its home games. Cotton, who himself is a turf contractor, told the township he would install it free of charge by using volunteer help. The township also spent approximately $100,000 for drainage and a concrete base for the field, which could be used for football, soccer and lacrosse.
Adorno, who is also a member of the board of education, said he “doesn’t see anybody working there.”
“He (Cotton) was saying during the summer that it would be installed in time for the Junior Bengals season,” said Adorno during the public portion of the meeting. “Right now there are only three weeks left in our season. There were supposed to be all these volunteers out there working every day. I know that Steve has installed fields and he knows how to lay them out, but he can’t get the help that he needs. This is embarrassing.”
Adorno noted some pieces of artificial turf would have to be repaired, saying they got ripped when they were unloaded off a truck.
He said the in the meantime, the league plays its games on the old field nearby.
“We could have had a landscaper put in a beautiful field with sod and grass that would be easier to maintain,” said Adorno. “We could have had it already by now. I really have no confidence in the turf project. It looks like it will be sitting around there through the winter.”
Adorno said the project delay “hurts the integrity of the league.”
“We had a program than once drew more than 125 kids,” he said. “Now we can’t even get 70.”
Contacted later, Cotton, who is currently Junior Bengals president, said he and volunteers have been spending most of their time coaching the youngsters since practices started late in the summer.
“We’re doing that practically every day,” he said. “Rafael certainly knows that. Once our season is over, then we can get back to work installing the artificial turf field. When it is all done, we’ll have a field the town can be real proud of.”
— Eric Englund