Council OKs upgrades to Count Basie Park
Bid amounts higher than estimated
Staff Writer
THE HUB November 23, 2005

RED BANK — Skyrocketing petroleum prices have resulted in higher bids for improvements to Count Basie Park.

At the Nov. 14 meeting, the Borough Council approved a resolution awarding a contract to Precise Construction, Colts Neck, the low bidder at $220,237 for improvements to Count Basie Park. The improvements include walkways, sidewalks, new fencing and bleachers.

All of the work will be done in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to Borough Administrator Stanley Sickels.

Originally, Borough Engineer Richard Kosenski estimated that improvements would come to $177,395 for the same project, but, said Sickels, because of increased petroleum prices, the cost of the walkways and sidewalks has increased.

Borough Chief Financial Officer Terence Whalen said the borough has $300,000 available for the project, so the increased bid is not cost prohibitive.

“We should get moving on this,” said Mayor Edward J. McKenna Jr.

Sickels said the contract is expected to be ready and signed within the next month, and that he hopes to have the project completed by the end of the year.

Many of the improvements come as a result of a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice in 2002, which resulted from a lawsuit filed by Carolyn Schwebel, co-chair of The Equalizers, a civil rights advocacy group for people with disabilities.

Schwebel filed a complaint with the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice against the borough in July 2000 because although she had spoken with borough officials concerning accessibility for disabled persons in the downtown and public parks, the borough continued with its plans that she felt made the areas less accessible.

The walkways, sidewalks and bleachers at Count Basie Park will be made ADA-compliant as a result of the settlement agreement.

The 6-acre park currently includes a multipurpose baseball/soccer field, four softball fields, a football field, basketball courts, a batting cage, tot lot and fishing pond.

The borough received a $250,000 Open Space matching fund grant from the Monmouth County Park System in July 2004 in conjunction with a $100,000 state grant.

The funds were used to construct a new concession stand, refurbish the restroom facilities, and construct new ADA-compliant restrooms near the midfield of the football field.

The required ADA improvements that will be made at the park include bringing existing restrooms into compliance with ADA standards, making modifications to the bleachers, and creating accessible routes to the fields.

Other improvements are the refurbishing of the football field and the resurfacing of the basketball courts.