Nestled at the heart of Union Township, NJ, Rabkin Park has been a long-cherished space for both local sports teams and community gatherings. But years of inclement weather left its multipurpose fields in a state of disrepair, posing risks to the safety of athletes. To address this issue and breathe new life into the park, the Township and Board of Education embarked on a comprehensive redesign project.
A Central Hub for Sports and Recreation
The overarching goal of the project was clear: create a central hub for both sports and recreation while preserving the community spirit that makes Rabkin Park special. The design process, led by the municipal engineers at Colliers Engineering & Design, was driven by the understanding that the park played host to a multitude of special events throughout the year. The project was meticulously planned to ensure continued access for the entire community.
Transforming the Multipurpose Fields
One of the central features of the redesign was the transformation of the multipurpose fields. The new field design was configured to allow for a full-length field that could be divided into smaller sets for different events, accommodating various sports and activities. This flexibility would ensure the park’s year-round utility.
Challenges and Innovative Solutions
During the design process, an unexpected challenge arose. The baseball diamond had to be centered on the field, but a water main line was discovered beneath it. Quick action was taken to relocate the water main, thanks to the cooperation of contractors and water providers.
For the field surface, cutting-edge Infill Systems Field Turf technology, made from recycled rubber materials, was chosen to keep the turf cool and ensure consistent water flow. State-of-the-art sensors were installed in the turf, aiding maintenance by notifying when grooming was needed and alerting to any dips in the field that could pose a safety risk.
Two new scoreboards and a press box were added, enhancing the overall game experience. Lighting for the field and a new set of bleachers further elevated the facilities. The design also included the reconstruction of the park’s gazebo, re-pavement of the parking lot with enhanced ADA accessibility, and enhanced public facilities such as grills and water fountains. All elements combined create an inclusive space for the community at large and local sports fans.
Bringing It All Together
Colliers Engineering & Design successfully completed the first phase of the project in time for summer training camps and the 2023 football season. The park’s rejuvenation has created a safer and more enjoyable environment for players and fans alike, and it also offers significant benefits to the Department of Public Works, allowing for proactive maintenance and issue resolution.
The completion of the multipurpose field marks the beginning of a broader revitalization effort for Rabkin Park, with plans for upgrades to the tennis courts in the pipeline. The park now provides a venue for a wide range of community events, from concerts in the gazebo to movies under the stars, thanks to its spacious design and state-of-the-art amenities. It has truly become a central gathering place for the Union County area.
In the end, the Rabkin Park redesign stands as a shining example of what can be achieved when a community comes together to breathe new life into a cherished space, ensuring it remains vibrant and functional for generations to come.