CO Johnson Park plans scaled down

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:14

    Byram-In the past seven months, renovation plans for CO Johnson Park have suffered several setbacks, one after the other. Lack of funding, higher than anticipated costs, as well as disadvantageous project bids have all contributed to a drastic shift in what will eventually make it into reality, and the timeline for its completion. In January, township officials were hopeful that Phase One of the $1.5 million project would include the construction of new basketball, bacciball, handball, and tennis courts, as well as areas designed for an inline hockey rink and skate park. In addition, over 3,700 feet of walking/bike riding paths, and electrical improvement were set to be a part of renovations to be completed before the end of 2004. As of July 1, the only improvement schewill be installed before Byram Day scheduled for Sept. 11. All of the other plans have either been put on hold or taken out of the design completely. The skatepark, paths, and lighting proposals have been cut from the project because of a financial error. Originally, Byram Township Engineer Cory Stoner, and members of the council projected to secure $1.5 million in municipal funds and an additional $250,000 from the state. As it turned out, the total amount available for the project, including the state loan, is $1.5 million. Also causing a setback, were deficiencies discovered in bids for electrical and other projects. After the problems were found, the projects had to be re-bid, causing months of delays in the scheduled construction. As if that were not enough, recent increases in oil prices have forced the township to build one less parking lot. In addition, only the largest lot will be paved, the others will be made of gravel. Major construction for the park renovation is now scheduled to take place this fall, and will be completed by late spring or early summer of 2005. If this happens, a new soccer field may not be usable until 2006, because it will need a complete growing season to establish turf. "It's been a long time coming for this plan, it will be so nice if we can have all of those amenities," said council member Donna Griff in an interview with The Township Journal in January. In the same interview, Griff stated how happy she was that senior citizens will be able to walk on the new paths that were at the time set to be completed by the end of 2004. Although the paths have been temporarily eliminated from the current plan, last week, Township Manager Greg Poff stated that Byram is attempting to restate the walking paths projects by securing funds from various grants.