Shortly after Chatham Athletic Foundation’s incorporation, the organization assembled an advisory board consisting of 18 Chatham community members, including elected officials, the superintendent of schools, the Recreation Directors of the Borough and Township, and coaches of several sports. This board would assure that projects were chosen based on what made the most sense, and that CAF would remain sports agnostic.
The criteria set by CAF for the advisory board for the first project included the following:
• The project would serve as many sports programs as possible
• The project would have little or no wetland/environmental issues
• The project would help relieve pressure from other fields
• The project would have a positive impact from children of both towns
Several meetings were held during the summer of 2005. Would the first project be a school field? A Borough field? A Township field?
After listing the pros and cons of a variety of projects, the Advisory Board suggested that laying turf on the Lum Avenue Field (Lum Field) would be the best inaugural endeavor for CAF and both towns. Not only did this field meet the initial criteria set by CAF, but there were also several other reasons for it being the first choice:
• It was centrally located; children could easily bike or walk there and it would be a showpiece for the town
• Main Street businesses could be positively affected as this field would draw families to the area during practices and games
• With the Police Dept next to the field, vandalism would be deterred
• Laying a turfing system would help mitigate drainage issues
• With the train station parking lot, there would be no parking issues during weekend games
CAF publicly announced its plans to follow the recommendation of the Advisory Board to both the Borough Council and Township Committee. After much discussion with both the Borough Council, Township Committee, residents of the streets surrounding field and coaches from several sports, the plan to move forward was finally memorialized. According to the Borough Council published minutes, “At its regularly scheduled Council Meeting on April 10, 2006, the Borough Council authorized and approved a project for the restoration and maintenance, and the development and maintenance of recreational property commonly known as Lum Avenue Fields, including the drainage and the artificial turfing thereof.”
Before the actual laying of turf, there was much to be done. The Council needed to vote on a resolution to send an RFP to a number of engineers in order to pick the firm that will write the specifications for the project. The responses would go to the Borough Engineer who would then present the findings to the Borough Council.
Once the Engineering firm was chosen and the specifications written, an RFP would be sent to a number of firms in order to bid on the Lum Field turf-laying project. The responses would go to the Borough Engineer who presented the findings to the Borough Council who then ultimately selected the winning bidder.
The official ground-breaking ceremony took place February 10, 2007. And a short four months later, the official opening of Lum field took place on June 9, 2007.
For a field that supported only one sport for part of the year, Lum was now transformed into a multi-sport complex that could be used all year long. On any given day, one could see sports such as football, softball, baseball, soccer, lacrosse or field hockey. When not in use for these organized sports, one might see a Mom or Dad with a child throwing a Frisbee or football, kicking a soccer ball, practicing pitching or just running around.