Not immune to pandemic price hikes and record-high inflation, Bloomingdale officials want Passaic County’s permission to repurpose open space funding to pay for a long-delayed project.
Passaic County officials agreed to schedule an April 12 public hearing to field comments on shifting a $125,000 grant earmarked for DeLazier Field to help rehabilitate the tennis courts at Walter T. Bergen Middle School.
Mayor John D’Amato said the estimated cost for the rehabilitation of the tennis courts has more than doubled since a pre-COVID quote. The decision is to prioritize that project regardless, he said.
“The tennis courts and the pickleball and all that stuff, we feel the entire community would benefit from that versus two bathrooms at DeLazier,” he said.
The project, including new asphalt, netting, lighting and striping, was estimated in June 2019 to cost about $163,000, records show. Passaic County officials subsequently granted $99,000 for the project. The funding has sat idle amid the pandemic.
The borough received the money for tennis courts from the county’s 2019 open space grant program. The $125,000 was awarded from the 2020/21 program for bathroom renovations and further grandstand renovations at DeLazier Field.
DeLazier Field dates to the 1940s. Hemmed in by a suburban neighborhood hugging Union Avenue, the field was the home of the Bloomingdale Troopers.
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A professional minor league team in the then-new North Atlantic Professional Baseball League, the team played its first game there in May 1946. Edward Lenthe, a Butler High School graduate from Riverdale who later played in the lower levels of the Braves organization, took the mound for the troopers, records show.
That summer, the still independent team had a visit from New York Yankees legend Babe Ruth. Ruth, who frequented the Northern Highlands of New Jersey for hunting, fishing and leisure, hit home runs for the crowd and made the field famous.
Rehabilitating the field, named for the town’s first mayor Isaac DeLazier, had been a priority for former mayor Jonathan Dunleavy. Dunleavy, who died in November 2020, had been the mayor for nearly a decade. A former president of the Bloomingdale Youth Organization, he oversaw the partial rehabilitation of the grandstand as mayor.
County open space grant funding was used for that project and previous projects at Walter T. Bergen in the last decade. Projects at the schoolyard included field rehabilitation, restroom construction and a new walking track.
The April 12 public hearing is set to start at 5:30 pm at the County of Passaic Administration Building in Paterson.
David Zimmer is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.