NJLCA hits home run with Little League field renovation

July 23, 2014 -  By
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NJLCA trimmed trees and installed a new warning track in the outfield.

On July 11 and 12, members from the New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association (NJLCA) teamed up to renovate the Charles Mastik Memorial Field in Little Ferry, N.J. The community field had not been maintained well and was flooded during Hurricane Sandy. But now, the new field will host the New Jersey Little League State Championship July 23-28.

Jeff Ware, volunteer district administrator for the N.J. District 6 Little League, said he had been reaching out to local landscape contractors for some time asking for minor repair help before he got in touch with NJLCA Executive Director Jody Shilan. He asked Shilan if there was anything he could do to spruce up the field and was grateful for his reply.

“He called me back a week later and had plans for a whole new field,” Ware said.

The association went above and beyond Ware’s expectations. Among other tasks, landscape contractors weeded, installed and operated skid-steers, rollers and backhoes to shape and grade the infield.

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NJLCA stripped the infield grass and then installed all new sod.

“The NJLCA came through with a bunch of volunteers,” Ware said. “They whipped up a baseball field in two days. It was pretty amazing.”

The NJLCA installed a new warning track in the outfield, stripped all the grass out of the infield, regraded it and installed new sod.

Rich Goldstein, NJLCA treasurer and owner of Oakland, N.J.-based Green Meadows Landscaping, had a heavy hand in coordinating the project.

“I am really happy with the way it came out,” Goldstein said. “These kids should be just thrilled to death.”

Prior to the renovation, there was a small ledge separating the infield and outfield, Goldstein said, adding it likely was due to lack of maintenance. Someone could’ve gotten hurt if the ball were to hit the ledge as a player was trying to field the ball, he said.

Shilan said the infield was like concrete and the grade was so high it was not able to drain properly. Also, the pitchers mound and bases did not meet Little League regulations.

“We were just asked to do some repairs, but we took it 10 steps further,” Goldstein said. “We stepped up to the plate and renovated the infield.”

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NJLCA spent two days renovating the Little League field.

This renovation would’ve cost the District 6 Little League $20,000, Shilan estimated, but 12 landscape companies, nine suppliers and other partners donated their time for free.

“We try to volunteer for a project every year,” Goldstein said. “It’s a good thing for contractors to give back to the community they work in.”

There will be a ribbon-cutting at the field on July 23 where Shilan will present the new field to the mayor of Little Ferry. The event coincides with opening night of the state tournament.

The volunteer landscape companies included: Al-D Landscaping & Tree, All Landscapes, Angels Contractors, Barillo Landscaping, Brian Anthony Landscaping, Canete Landscape, Green Meadows Landscaping, Kindergan Landscaping, LandscapeWorks, Lawn Pro, Mirabella Landscape and Winks TBC. Members of the Rutgers Veterans Environmental and Technology Solutions Program, a landscape training program for U.S. military veterans, also volunteered their labor to the project. Sports Field Solutions, an athletic field design/build company, consulted on the project.

The suppliers who supplied all of the products were American Hose & Hydraulics, Bobcat of North Jersey, DeBuck’s Sod Farm, Downes Tree Service/Forest Products, Gamka /Husqvarna, John Deere Landscapes, Holganix, Shemin Nurseries and Turfside supply.

Photos: NJLCA

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