Spring sports season at Ridgewood HS in question due to constant flooding of field

Ridgewood High School’s football field and track remain in disrepair after repeated floods damaged the new field. The situation is leaving some asking if it will be ready for spring sports. This comes less than a year after the district paid to restore the field from flooding in October and the third time over the last year the field has flooded.
Silt, dried mud and leaves render the field unusable for the school of almost 1,800 students. It is one of the largest schools in Bergen County.
“Probably just fix that as soon as possible because there’s opportunities for kids” says Ridgewood resident Natasha Gross.
“I think continuously pouring money into artificial turf is a real waste of the taxpayers' money,” adds resident Katie Quinn.
The spring sports season starts March 14, but district leaders are waiting to begin another restoration project on the field.
“Everyone that has been here has recommended we wait until the end of February or early March and consider starting because of the conditions. And after that we have to determine whether it’s safe for athletics to perform,” says Ridgewood High School Principal Jeff Nyhuis.
District leaders say they’ve created a contingency plan partnering with other schools and private sports facilities in case the field is not ready for the spring season.
“We’re gonna build up a long-range plan because we can’t have this impacting us the way it has,” says Nyhuis.
Conversations with the Department of Environmental Protection and Army Corps of Engineers eliminate the possibility of altering the flow of the Ho-Ho-Kus Brook. District leaders are now working with the community to find a solution ranging from going back to a natural grass field, changing locations or raising the field.
“When we had it as a grass field, it could not even take a quarter of the use because of the wear and tear,” says Nyhuis.
“One of our creative ideas is to potentially look at truly raising the field and putting in some sort of catch basin system underneath it where the water still could go,” says School Superintendent Mark Schwarz. “So, we’re not accelerating or decreasing the flow downstream.”
Short-term work to clean and repair tears in the turf is expected to take two weeks once started but having to replace rubber turf kernels could prolong the process.
“We are going to be ensuring that this is up and playable for the season barring of course another type of catastrophic weather event,” says Schwarz.
The field restoration is expected to cost around $300,000 but district leaders have submitted an insurance claim for the damage and cleanup and are hoping it will cover most of the cost.