HAMILTON TOWNSHIP — The 4- to 6-year-olds were back on the street hockey courts Thursday in their helmets and shin guards whacking away at a rubber ball at Leipe Farm Fields on Leipzig Avenue.
And unlike previous years there was no concern about them tripping over cracks.
The township unveiled Thursday the first of many new recreation projects that will be completed across several athletic fields.
The park opened with two newly resurfaced hockey courts, repairs to the side boards and new fencing, said Administrator Mike Jacobs. The township also hopes to add surveillance cameras to deter vandalism and theft, he said.
The township initially received a grant for about $400,000 from the county a few years ago to build a football field at the park but the project was pulled due to concerns about drainage. Instead of returning the money the township received approval for other projects that Jacobs said should all be complete within a month:
At Underhill Park the township will build a playground for children with disabilities, place clam shells on the parking lot and add bleachers.
At the soccer complex on Hickory Street Fields the township will add a kick back wall, bleachers and fencing and drainage improvements.
Bleachers will also be added to Knights Avenue Field.
“So many people enjoy this,” said Mayor Roger Silva. “It’s important to give children a place to enjoy recreation in an organized fashion.”
Atlantic County Freeholder Vice Chairman Frank Giordano is a former member of the Township Committee that moved the skate park from Sears Avenue to the Leipe Farm Field 10 years ago. “This is what the quality of life for families are all about,” he said. “They are who pay the taxes. We need to continue to support them and must return something to them.”
The township is also working on pedestrian safety improvements on Old Egg Harbor Road near Underhill Park, Jacobs said. There are proposals to add another crosswalk, more signage to alert motorists of the park and flashing lights during activities at the field. A presentation of possible plans is scheduled for Monday’s Township Committee meeting, Jacobs said.
Joe Guerrier, a coach for the Mays Landing Athletic Association’s street hockey league, said there are more than 300 kids in the league who range from 4 to 17 years old. The different ages play on the courts throughout the year.
The township resident also said the newly redone park will be used by other leagues in the region that come to the township for tournaments.
“It was needed,” he said. “It’s one thing to build it but we need it maintained so it will be around for a long time.”
Township resident Tammy Manolas applauded the work on the court, noting she was concerned about the cracks on the court. She is also excited about the bleachers at the Knights Avenue Field, saying there is currently only one set of bleachers for the three fields.
“I always bring a chair when I go there,” she said. “If you don’t bring one you’re stuck.”
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