Fair Lawn All Sports presented a plan Tuesday to expand the Dobrow sports complex into the site of the former Walsh Pool, and in the coming months will explore ways to bear the costs of transferring their plan to reality.
“We’re always in a crunch for field space, and always looking for new areas and new places to play because we have so many kids in the program,” All Sports president Jeff Mazzola said.
The Council had already been moving forward with the relocation of a modular skate park, which has been in storage since 2011, to a site over the filled-in pool. But plans for the rest of the two-acre site were never finalized.
Mayor John Cosgrove and Council Member Kurt Peluso met with All Sports and the Fair Lawn Football Association to explore ways the groups might be able to utilize the space surrounding the skate park, prompting a design that includes a baseball field as well as a soccer field that can be used as a practice site for virtually any of the borough’s outdoor sports programs.
“We know that we don’t have the money to do this right now,” Cosgrove said at the Tuesday night meeting, where the plans were unveiled. “But we felt since they are almost the tenants or occupants of the facility, that we would like to know their idea of what it would look like if this was some kind of master plan. And we know tonight we can’t tell you if it will take a year or five years or ten years based on the budget constraints right now, but we know what All Sports would like to do in the future.”
While the council was receptive to the plan, they agreed that the borough’s current budget would not be able to bear the costs of the construction, estimated now at around $1 million. All Sports is awaiting exact projections of the cost, pending surveys and soil borings at the site.
“I’m fine with the concept,” said Deputy Mayor Ed Trawinski, “with the clear understanding that at this point in time we’re not committing any dollars because we don’t have the dollars to commit.”
There is the possibility of finding Open Space grants to cover part of the cost of the project, but All Sports says they plan to finance it through their own fundraising. They hope to form a committee to search for grants and solicit private donations.
The skate park, which was funded in part through a county grant that requires installation by July 1, will move forward as the first phase of the development of the former pool into a new sports complex. The remainder of the design presented by All Sports would likely be a long-term project moving forward in phases.
“I think we’ll wind up doing it as funds become available so we keep the ball rolling on it. This is so early in the game that we don’t really have a formalized plan of target dates, which we will probably have in the near future,” Mazzola told Patch.
The plan is not final, and one concern raised by the Council is the design’s relocation of the playground to a spot adjacent to the skate park. The last attempt at a skate park was located near a playground, and removed in part due to the complaints of parents of young children patronizing it.
But details aside, Tuesday night likely marked the beginning of a long-term effort to finance and realize plans for a sizable expansion of the sports complex at Dobrow. “We have to start some place,” Mazzola said. “This is the starting point of trying to get this going.”
The mayor agreed: “I think we’re at the first step of a long journey.”