by Andrew Garda

With the school year just about to end, the facilities at Woodman and Fortunato fields will be clear and ready for work to be done on the track and lacrosse/soccer fields.

The process itself might not be, however.

In an email to the Montclair Local last week, School Business Administrator for the Board of Education, Emidio D’Andrea, said that the architect for the track is reviewing bids for the project but there was no start date as of yet.

Fortunato Field isn’t even that far into the process leaving it unlikely to be available for use by camps and putting its readiness for soccer in question.

Both revitalization projects date back to last fall, when multiple potential upgrades to athletic facilities were discussed at a Nov. 29 Board of Estimate meeting. The list of projects was whittled down to rebuilding the track at Woodman, which has been in need of improvement for some time, and replacing the turf at Fortunato. The official budget was then approved at a Board of Education meeting on Jan. 10 and then again by the Board of School Estimate meeting on Jan. 30.

The field at Fortunato had to limp through the spring, as it failed its GMax test earlier in the year and needed repair just to get through the softball and lacrosse season. The GMax test measures the shock-attenuation performances of various sports surfaces like field turf, and fields must be tested for it periodically. Woodman’s football field and the surface at Watchung School both passed their most recent tests.

Fortunato Field and Woodman’s turf were both installed in 2005, while Watchung Field is approximately two years older, putting all three surfaces between 10 to 15 years of age and well past their warranty and expiration date.

The short-term repairs this spring allowed the lacrosse and softball teams to play home games at Fortunato, though the softball team does occasionally play at Grove Street field. That would not be a likely solution for soccer season.

Resurfacing Fortunato will take some time, and if not started early in the summer, could drag into the fall, forcing the girls and boys soccer teams to play elsewhere.

The track rebuild does not have a start date either; however, with bids already being considered, it appears the original hope that it would be managed during the summer seems likely. While track is a spring sport, the surface does see some use during cross country season and is heavily trafficked during football season.