High Point Midget Football and Cheer sees a chance to grow at Woodbourne Park

Wantage. The growing league needs more room for a regulation-sized field, its president told the township committee.

| 01 Oct 2021 | 03:43

High Point Midget Football and Cheer is in the market for a better field.

Looking to move the program to Woodbourne Park, the league’s president, Mike Dillon, asked the Wantage Township Committee on Sept. 23 for financial help in expanding the Woodbourne field to regulation size.

Dillon presented a two-year-old plan by engineer Harold Pellow that would expand the field on both sides, adjust two lights on the south side, and recrown the field.

The plan also added 38 parking spaces.

“This field has been a conversation amongst the board for the past couple of years,” Dillon said. “It’s not just me anymore, and it’s not just a handful of people. We have just short of 160 families in our league, and I can pretty much guarantee that every single family will be there to help us build this field.”

Currently, the program can practice at Woodbourne Park but must play their games at Brookside Park because the field there is regulation size. Brookside is in Wantage but is owned by Sussex Borough.

Floods and fires

Dillon said Brookside Park isn’t usable anymore. The field, which is located in a flood plain, was submerged under five feet of water after Tropical Storm Ida hit the area on Sept. 1.

The park is also plagued by security problems. Dillon said several kids set a trash can on fire during a peewee game.

“We had to call state police and the kids were charged,” Dillon said. “On top of that, I get a call from the state police about once a week about break-ins to the concession stand, our equipment trailers, or the announcer’s booth. It’s really just become a nuisance.”

When the Woodbourne Park field was built 14 years ago, High Point was part of the New Jersey Youth Football League, which allowed play on a 40-by-80-yard field. Two years after the field was built, the program moved to the Morris County Youth Football League, which plays on a 50-by-100-yard field.

“Legally, we’re not allowed to play games on a 40-by-80 field,” Dillon said. “So right now, we use (Woodbourne) for practicing every night, just trying to limit our use at Brookside, and then we play our games at Brookside.”

This wasn’t the first time Dillon brought this question to the committee.

“At the time there wasn’t enough finances to help us out,” Dillon said. “We didn’t have a ton of money to contribute to the field.”

Committeeman Jonathan Morris said he was on board with the idea and volunteered to serve as a liaison to the High Point football program.

Ron Bassani, the deputy mayor, said of expanding the field: “I think we’re all in agreement that’s what we’re going to focus our energies on.”

“We have just short of 160 families in our league, and I can pretty much guarantee that every single family will be there to help us build this field.” Mike Dillon