HILLSIDE, NJ — The school district will receive a $15,000 grant that will be put toward eventually renovating Woodfield Stadium’s athletic field, including replacing the grass with synthetic turf.
The Investors Foundation, the charitable arm of Investors Bank, will award the district with the grant at the next school board meeting on March 15, according to a press release from the school district.
“Renovation of the athletic field is a part of the district’s plan to provide high quality facilities for student and community use,” Superintendent Antoine Gayles said in an email. “The renovated athletic field also represents a symbol of school pride.”
In December, the school board rescinded a previously adopted resolution to request a $750,000 withdrawal from capital reserves to renovate Woodfield Stadium. The measure would have been part of the tentative 2017-2018 school year budget after approval from the executive county superintendent.
Gayles said the measure was rescinded “to be in compliance with state required accounting requirements regarding allocating capital reserve funds in the current school year.”
“The $750,000 in capital reserve will be added to the 2018-19 budget for approval in April,” he added. “At which time, the district can move forward with its application to the [Department of Education] for state approval of the project.”
While the $15,000 grant won’t be enough to convert the field from the grass to turf, the Investors Foundation grant will be added with funds already allocated for the renovation project, Gayles said.
A cost estimate by Environetics Group Architects P.C. in October showed that the Woodfield Stadium turf replacement would cost about $1.4 million. Renovations to existing structures around the field, such as bleachers, field lighting and a press box, were marked at zero dollars, signifying that the project wouldn’t include those fixes and upgrades.
Students currently use the Hillside High Field Complex, which includes a four-lane running track, for practice and play games at Woodfield Stadium.
Residents at a November school board meeting, where the request for $750,000 in capital reserve funds was first approved, explained how important the renovations to the field would be to township.
Many implored the school board at the time to renovate the field to invest in students. Others said that for the past 10 years the board has been planning to renovate the field, where graduation and homecoming also are held, according to meeting minutes.
The football team at Hillside High School captured its first state championship since 1985 last year. The Comets beat Point Pleasant 20-13 in the state championship game at Rutgers.
Meanwhile, Investors Bank has donated more than $16 million since 2005, investing in arts, education and youth development. The foundation awarded $25,000 in grants to IronMatt Foundation, Dr. Theodore Atlas Foundation and the Wyckoff Family YMCA in January.