"I don't think the field will be done on time, but it will be ready for most of the series," said First Ward Councilman Ted Connolly. "With all the snow and rain, it was tough getting started."
Although the field will not be ready for use by the April 16 opening day festivities, Bob Sexton, secretary for the Bayonne Little League, said the younger kids - who use the field - routinely start later than older kids.
While the traditional Little League Parade down Broadway will take place as scheduled on April 16 with a double header planned for the other field, the rebuilt field is tentatively scheduled to open on May 7 instead of April 30.
"With the younger kids we usually wait until the weather gets warmer," Sexton said. Klumpp Stadium was used as a location for a fictional gas station in the film and Paramount agreed to pay the city $125,000 for the restoration of the field toward the restoration and upgrade of the field in time for the May 1 Little League opening day festivities. The company has also agreed to pay the city $10,000 to replace a light pole they removed prior to filming. The filming of the blockbuster film was concluded in slightly less than two weeks in November, the construction of the gas station and its later demolition took months.
In addition, the director, Steven Spielberg, and the film's star, Tom Cruise, have contributed the construction of a new War of the Worlds score board and new dug outs. "Paramount has also set aside $25,000 to cover any environmental issues that might come up," Coffey said, noting that the state Department of Environmental Protection and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey are currently evaluating that situation.
Sexton said environmental testing was done and found no problems. The Port Authority and the Department of Environmental Protection were apparently concerned about toxins underlying the field. That area of Bayonne is adjacent to former Texaco oil refinery. Snow and rain were not the only reason for the late start. The land is owned by the Port Authority, Sexton said. "It is leased to the City of Bayonne and the city lets us use it for the ball field."
While the city's Law Department Director Jay Coffey handled all the negotiations with Paramount, the Port Authority set specific requirements that needed to be met. "It has been report after report," Sexton said. "They want all their i's dotted and their t's crossed, and that's part of the reason for the late start."
Part of the project will involve bringing in tons of clean soil to the site, Sexton said. Sexton said if the weather remains good, the deconstruction of the field will be completed within a few days, after which actual construction of the ball field will begin. He said this should take about two weeks to complete, including new fencing around the entire sports compound as well as fencing around the particular field. Crews were taking down the old fence.
"War of the Worlds people took down part of the fence when they demolished the gas station," Sexton said. "But now the rest of the fence will be taken down and replaced." The work is being done by JC Landscaping of Belleville, which has a good history of reconstructing ball fields.
"The Port Authority has a construction crew of their own, that will oversee the project, but won't do any of the work," Sexton said.
The field, said Sexton, is used exclusively by the younger kids, six, seven and eight year old and girls softball nine to 12. But local baseball will still kick off on schedule with a double header slated for the main field next door to where renovations are taking place with a kick off on April 16.
The traditional parade on April 16 will kick off at the Library on 31st Street and Avenue C at 10 a.m. and go down Broadway.
"The parade takes about an hour," he said. "We'll hold an opening day ceremony for a half hour to an hour, then we'll play ball," Sexton said.
City officials said studio officials hinted that Spielberg, Cruise or perhaps might return to Bayonne for the parade or the later unveiling of the ball field.
Chuck Singer, an employee of the city, is also looking over many of the sports fields in the city, in the company of Brad Park from Cook College, of Rutgers University. Park, whose environmental expertise, will help the city determine some of the needs of the playing fields. Park will in turn use the study for educational purposes back the college, a case study of existing facilities.
"This is my initial visit," he said, toting a 35 mm camera.
Contact Al Sullivan at email@example.com