Following the recent installation of new, state-of-the-art lighting at the Moe Levine Park complex – as well as the completion of a playground donated by an anonymous local resident – the park’s major attraction, its prized baseball diamond, is in line for major improvements.
The park, which spans the area of 13th and 14th avenues along Barnegat Avenue, has been the subject of attention for years, with improvement projects coming to fruition over the past six months – including a test lighting demonstration held in December 2023. At one time, summer baseball leagues were legendary in the borough, but the lack of lighting and deteriorating field conditions have tamped down on the reliability of the field to support regular play, and leagues have turned to other facilities on and off the island.
The borough will seek low-interest financing at a rate of 2 percent from Green Acres to fund improvements to the field that officials believe will reinvigorate the complex and solve nagging issues with grading and ponding water after storms.
The funding, if approved, would go toward new softball bases, a batter’s box and clay mix for the infield portion of the diamond. It would also include outfield drainage improvements, irrigation, topsoil, fertilizer and seed. Major renovation include the removal and replacement of the existing dugouts, bleachers, concrete sidewalk, concrete slabs, and the installation of concrete retaining walls. The existing softball field fencing and gates would also be replaced.
A major goal of the park improvements is to address the existing stormwater ponding issue by removing and re-grading the entire limits of the field and installing perforated pipe below the grass area to reduce the poor drainage of the field, according to a summary of the plan announced by the borough.
Mayor John Peterson, a dedicated fan who coached youth baseball for years, expressed excitement about the future of the field during the light demonstration last month, recalling the sport’s deep tradition in town.
“We’ve had Major Leaguers play here,” said Peterson, remembering a young Todd Frazier showing up to play a game in a summer league while in college, among other notable baseball players who have visited or lived in town or nearby. Peterson himself coached youth baseball for 18 years.
Because financing would be provided by the state, the borough is required to engage in a prescribed process before funds can be released. A public hearing, where residents can ask questions and offer comments on the plan, will be held Feb. 1 at 7 p.m. in the council chambers above the town’s police headquarters building. Written comments are also being accepted by Borough Administrator Karen Kroon, via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by postal mail at 1701 North Ocean Avenue, Seaside Park, NJ, 08752.