GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — The tens of thousands of children who have played over the decades at Gabriel Memorial Field know one important thing — they should probably visit a bathroom before heading to the field.
Gabriel Field’s restrooms have never been tied into the municipal sewage system for the 59 years the Galloway Township Athletic Association has owned the field.
An agreement among the township, the Athletic Association, the state Department of Environmental Protection, the state Pinelands Commission and the Atlantic County Utilities Authority will allow the installation of new bathrooms in the spring at Gabriel and Tartaglio fields.
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“We are so excited,” said Krissy McGinty, 46, an executive board member of the athletic association. “I never thought I would be so excited about having running water in 2020.”
Gabriel Field, at Duerer Street and Zurich Avenue, hosts the township baseball, softball, football, cheerleading and wrestling teams and is used by children ages 4 to 15, McGinty said.
The field had two exterior bathrooms at its snack stand on a septic system, but that failed, Township Administrator Chris Johansen said.
At least 15 years ago, when the snack stand bathrooms failed, separate boys and girls trailers were brought there, and waste would be placed in a holding tank until it was emptied, McGinty said. The holding tank failed in 2014.
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For decades, the athletic association tried to have bathrooms installed for Gabriel Field, but it could never receive permission from the Pinelands Commission because of the presence of wetlands, McGinty said.
During the most recent decade, the need for bathrooms grew in importance, McGinty said. Many parents were assisting children with special needs, or had children on the autism spectrum or with cerebral palsy.
The porta-potties, which replaced the trailers with the failed holding tanks, were not very big and could not be locked from the outside, McGinty said.
A building called the log cabin, where indoor wrestling takes place, has a bathroom septic system at Gabriel Field, but it is failing, Johansen said.
The septic system needs to be replaced, or it needs to tie into a sewer line, he said.
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Gabriel Field and the nearby Tartaglio Field, which the township owns, were not in the delineated Pinelands sewer service area, Mayor Anthony J. Coppola Jr. said.
“So we had to go to Trenton and make appeals to the Pinelands (Commission) to get that area included, which was very unusual that they granted that. Pinelands is very restrictive when it comes to where they put sewer. We kind of went out on a limb and petitioned them to do that,” said Coppola, who added the initiative was started under his predecessor, Mayor Don Purdy.
The state approved the bathrooms in 2016, but then the township had to come up with the money to pay for them, McGinty said. The Township Council approved spending $268,111 in September.
The pipes for the sewer will run from Gabriel to Tartaglio field and from Tartaglio to the township’s existing sewer system, Johansen said.
Currently, trucks have to be brought up to the fields. The waste water has to be pumped out of the porta-potties and taken somewhere, Johansen said. The porta-potties fall in the wind, and people knock them over, he said.
“It’s a mess when our public works has to go down there and pick up a porta-potty with the blue water all over the place. This will be a much better scenario for the environment and all the families that use those facilities,” Johansen said.