A call for strategic plan to address field conditions

Soccer club and residents seek fixes at Crow’s Woods

Drainage issues and glass shards in the bare spots at Crow’s Woods Field have caused the community to advocate for sodding the area and making them playable for the upcoming fall soccer season. (EMILY LIU/The Sun)

For years, the Haddonfield Soccer Club has had problems with drainage at Crow’s Woods Field. 

Club president Amy Henry addressed the issue at the June 13 board of commissioners’ work session. She described how rain early in the week can lead to cancellations for games scheduled on sunny weekends because the water is not drained. 

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The field has been known among residents as Closed Woods because of how often drainage issues have caused its closure.

“About 50 percent of the time it’s not playable,” Henry said. “There’s puddles on the field. Those puddles on the field mean that grass doesn’t grow in spots and it doesn’t regrow. (The field) is eroded more quickly, (and) it creates more mud spots.”

During the club’s spring season earlier this year, there were glass shards on the field’s bald spots and league referees deemed the ground unplayable. Henry presented potential short and long-term solutions at the meeting that would allow their 1,000 players to continue in the fall season and beyond. Roughly 30 other residents came in support of this plan.

Rather than finding another field or cutting players, the borough has agreed to split with the club the $50,000 cost to sod the field as a temporary solution. Even so, borough Administrator Sharon McCullough acknowledged that the problems with Crow’s Woods were multifaceted, with a lot of moving parts.

In late August to early September 2021, while searching for drainage solutions, the commissioners learned the landfill beneath Crow’s Woods was never formally closed by the  Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), despite the fact it stopped receiving refuse in the late ‘70s and was filled with soil and capped with concrete in the subsequent decades. 

Because it is still considered an active landfill by the DEP, there are limits to what the borough can do regarding the property. 

“We’re submitting data to the state so that we can eventually get to a level where we can seek to request a formal closure,” Commissioner Kevin Roche explained.  “… It’s almost a two-pronged strategy that kind of goes into why we were looking into proposals (from varying professionals). 

“As soon as we want to say, ‘We want a closure’, (the DEP) is going to ask why,  and we would like to have the best plan proposed to them for what we can put out there,” he added.

To better manage the field from a holistic standpoint, the borough has hired a sports field management consultant to look at field usage and create a better system managing the various sports and field surfaces being used and maintaining them. 

During the meeting, when asked about potentially turfing the field, commissioners cited the settling of the landfill, which caused uneven grounds, and the unknown life cycle of turf as further obstacles.

“For a lot of people in town, the place they meet is Crow’s Woods,” said resident and former Haddonfield soccer player Joseph Jesiolowski.

He shared how much the soccer experience had meant to him and to a friend who passed away. Jesiolowski also noted that investing in the fields would create a positive ripple effect for the community.

“It’s more than just soccer,” he insisted. “It’s a place where people meet and an investment in Crow’s Woods … or in a big field complex, pays dividends in little ways. They’re difficult to quantify, but still real.”

The next commissioner’s meeting will be held on June 27 at 7 p.m.

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