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Sabella Park, North Brunswick

Sabella Park, a former school site which became a park in the 1950's, is one of the oldest parks in North Brunswick Township, and has been an integral part of the Township Parks and Recreation system ever since.

The park is centrally located on Cozzens Lane (Middlesex County Route 606) between US Route 1 and Route 27 in a heavily developed residential area in the northwesterly part of North Brunswick Township. The 29+ acre park has always been an active recreational center boasting the Pop Warner football field, little league baseball and soccer fields, as well as the Middle School and High School practice fields. The park also has a passive recreation element with walking trails and foot bridges over the Six Mile Run, a stream that runs through the site.

The continuous play through the various sports seasons caused the fields to be in a deteriorated condition early in each season despite protracted and costly maintenance efforts employed by Township forces. Also, the lack of adequate drainage characteristics; i.e. flat slopes and minimal storm sewer coverage contributed to inadequate field conditions. The park also lacked sufficient parking for the Pop Warner games.

After an extensive conceptual planning process involving the Director and members of the Parks & Recreation Department, the Township Administrator, representatives from Pop Warner and Mr. McClelland, a vision for the Park was forged and the project moved ahead with design. The concept included: a new lighted synthetic turf football/soccer/lacrosse field, a large natural turf lighted soccer/football practice field, a basketball court, an expanded parking area, upgraded drainage facilities and grading to address runoff characteristics. The replacement of two (2) deteriorated foot bridges was also proposed.

Upon commencement of the detailed design for the desired concept, the Township and faced a substantial roadblock in the form of strict permitting requirements for work within the Six Mile Run stream buffer and Stormwater Management Regulations from both the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the Delaware Raritan Canal Commission which prevented the construction of a conventional synthetic turf field and limited the regrading of the natural turf field within the flood plain. The project could not be designed within the parameters of the rules and regulations of the Flood Hazard Area Control Act Rules N.J.A.C. 7:13, Freshwater Wetland Protection Act Rules N.J.A.C. 7:7A, Stormwater Management Rules N.J.A.C. 7:8, Surface Water Quality Standards N.J.A.C. 9B, Standards for Soil Erosion and Sediment Control in New Jersey and Regulations for the Review Zone of the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park without some innovative design.
Because Six Mile Run was designated as a C-1 waterway, no new outfalls were allowed within the 300 foot Special Water Resource Protection Area of the stream. The then newly implemented Special Water Resource Protection Area (SWRPA) requirements limited new impervious construction to more than 300 feet from the banks of Six Mile Run. These restrictions dramatically reduced the "usable" area and appeared to limit the anticipated park improvements to the point where the Township considered abandoning the project. However through the determination of Mr. McClelland a viable project was conceived. After several iterations Mr. McClelland, proposed a conceptual layout plan providing:

• One 80,150± square foot (1.84 acre) synthetic surface multi-purpose athletic field.
• One 100,000± square foot (2.3 acre) natural surface multi-purpose athletic field.
• The expansion of an existing parking lot; adding 12,554 square feet (0.29 acres) of pavement and 52 parking spaces (8 handicapped).
• A 75 x 105 foot (0.18 acre) basketball court
• Associated re-grading, seeding and sodding of existing lawn areas to properly drain and accommodate the proposed synthetic turf athletic field, natural turf athletic field, parking expansion and basketball court.

All the above improvements were proposed within the limited confines of the Sabella Park property while maintaining the required 300 foot Riparian Stream Buffer and/or Buffer restrictions.

As a result of the strict development regulations for the project, CME Associates spearheaded the design of a 5 foot deep underground stone impoundment and groundwater recharge area below the proposed synthetic turf field which allowed for both infiltration and storage but also provided a "relief" system to convey excess flows into the existing storm drainage system during rainfall events of high intensity. This innovative design was subject to NJDEP approval of a hydro-geologic evaluation to analyze the suitability of the bedrock to accept the rainfall from the synthetic turf field into the underlying fractures in the rock strata.