Manasquan School District's athletic fields are in poor shape. In fact, they're among the worst in the entire Shore Conference of 46 high schools, officials said.
The baseball and softball fields have poor drainage and the football field by mid-season looks more like a sandbox than a grass field, according to school board member Thomas Bauer, the Buildings and Ground Committee chairman.
And Manasquan is the only high school in the conference without a regulation track, Bauer said.
Not only do the facilities look bad, they're dangerous for the district's student athletes, Bauer said.
"Something must be done," Bauer said during Tuesday's school board work session.
Bauer presented three options to fellow board members, the administration and public on Tuesday — the most elaborate of which would cost roughly $2.9 million over three years.
The first and cheapest option, however, would simply eliminate the cinder track surrounding the football field behind the high school (while keeping just a 100-yard straight-away portion), and reconstruct the existing field with natural grass.
That option would cost roughly $300,000, Bauer said. The district already has that money from previous fundraising efforts, he added.
The second option would eliminate the track, keep the 100-yard straight-away, and convert the football field into synthetic grass, Bauer said.
That would cost $650,000. The district would have to find an additional $350,000 through fundraising to pay for the project, Bauer said.
The third, and by far most expensive, option belongs to the district's master plan.
The plan would be rolled out in four phases over three years and cost a total of $2.9 million.
Phase one would see the construction of brand new baseball and softball fields behind the Elementary School for both school teams to use, a new perimeter fencing (including a "blue monster" in left field of the baseball park), and the installation of conduits for lighting in the future.
The phase could be finished by the fall of 2012 and cost $300,000 — money the district essentially already has, Bauer said.
Phase two would see the removal of the High School football field bleachers, construction of a retaining wall in the buffer zone of the wetlands near Judah Creek as well as improvements to the stream corridor, and installation of ADA ramps to the existing public restrooms. The fields at the High School would remain.
That portion would cost roughly $500,000, Bauer said.
Phase three would add sports lighting to the ball fields at the Elementary School, eliminate the baseball field at the High School, and construct a regulationg 400-meter six-lane track in its place, and convert the football field into synthetic grass.
That phase would cost roughly $1.5 million, Bauer said.
The fourth and final phase would see the construction of new bleachers, a plaza, press box and concessions at the football field, at a cost of another $600,000, Bauer said.
Each phase would only be started once funding was secured for each, Bauer said.
"It's embarrassing to be last," Bauer said of the district's current facilities.
The upgrade to state-of-the-art facilities, if all goes to plan, could be completed by spring of 2015, Bauer said.
The upgrades would be paid for by community fundraising efforts, Bauer said.
"Community involvement is key to getting this done," he said.
The district is also looking at possibly selling a sliver of land with frontage on Sea Girt Avenue that could help pay for the project, officials said.
Currently the High School's track team uses the roughly 1.5 acres for field events practice, Bauer said.