In addition to approving an application for a daycare center on Fackler Road, the Lawrence Township Planning Board Monday evening (Oct. 15) approved a preliminary and final site plan application from Rider University, an action which will allow the university to construct a 7,000-square-foot building that will be used as an indoor practice facility by Rider’s baseball, softball, soccer and field hockey teams.
The multipurpose building, which will feature three batting cages and a synthetic turf surface, will measure 70 by 100 feet and have a height of 16 to 29½ feet. It will be built adjacent to an existing maintenance building at the rear of the campus on Lawrence Road (Route 206) where the university’s athletic fields are located, well away from neighboring properties.
Mike Reca, associate vice president for facilities and auxiliary services, testified that Rider needs the facility to allow practices to take place "during inclement weather and certain other times of the year" so the university and its NCAA Division I teams can “stay competitive in the market.”
“We do not have a quality batting facility for our baseball and softball teams right now. We had an ad hoc facility, kind of, in one of our warehouse buildings. That has been deemed unsafe. Therefore, we feel it is imperative to have this facility, mainly for those two teams, but [also] for the rest of the teams on campus that could take advantage of it,” he said.
“We also do not any longer want to participate with these sports in our Alumni Gymnasium, where we play men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball, and wrestle due to the fact that balls break things and the kids are always wanting to go 110 percent. We do not want that facility to be damaged…. So keeping with our mission of being competitive in the [Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference], we feel that this facility is necessary at this time.”
It is possible the university will offer to rent out the facility to community groups, Reca said, but added that he expects the building will be in use much of the time by Rider athletes.
Audio of Rider’s application can be heard during the first 25 minutes of the meeting Audio Part 1 file in the media box above.