Franklin council discusses pond revitalization

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Franklin’s Borough Council continued their discussion of the pond revitalization project at Tuesday night’s meeting.

Before the discussion, the governing body approved the use of the fields by the Wallkill Valley Soccer Club and Wallkill Valley Little League pending proof of insurance, but the talks quickly moved to longer-term projects.

“It comes down to a matter of establishing priorities,” Administrator Jim Kilduff said, noting the need for many projects.

As safety is always the first priority, the borough will install a safety net down the third-base line of the baseball field, which is expected to cost about $7,000.

Other projects discussed included scoreboard repair, painting, police cameras, a new softball shed, high-efficiency lighting and the much-discussed walking track.

Councilman Fred Babcock advocated the beginning of the work.

“I don’t know why we’re sitting on our thumbs,” he said. “This stuff should be getting done.”

Councilman Nick Giordano suggested a letter to the Sussex County Sheriff’s Office asking the Sheriff’s Labor Assistance Program (SLAP) for help with the grunt work.

Mayor Paul Crowley said having the SLAP program there for minor tasks like painting is one thing, but doesn’t know if the pond guests would want “a bunch of inmates down there at the same time.”

Regardless of who completes the work, though, he agrees something needs to be done. He suggested Kilduff reach out to DPW Supervisor Brian Vandenbroek and see if he has the ability to assist with the projects.

“Everybody’s in agreement you want this done,” Crowley said, “it just comes down to time and materials.”

Kilduff also brought up a concern he has with the cost of lighting the area’s sports fields. While the borough currently charges teams $150 to use the lights, he “can guarantee you that the $150 is used up in the first night” a team uses the lights. The soccer team requests lights five nights per week during their season, he added, and “that’s just cost prohibitive.”

He suggested a possible conversion to high-efficiency lighting for a “dramatic reduction in electricity costs.” Even a timer system, the council agreed, would be a good start to solving the problem.

The walking path

The council has been fighting for the installation of a walking path around the pond area for more than a year now, and the matter will finally be brought up in an “informal discussion” with the borough engineer by Kilduff.

The previous walking path was installed by volunteers from the Franklin Fire Department, but Crowley said he is unsure whether there are enough exempt members left to tackle such a large-scale project.

“If we have to go commercial, we have to go to bid,” Crowley said. “It’s going to be very expensive.”

The group also discussed pros and cons of different possible materials for the track.

“The materials need to be low maintenance,” Councilman Dave Fanale said, noting how little maintenance much of the park currently sees.

“Maybe macadam would be better in the long run” Councilman Mark Zschack said.

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