Montclair Kimberley Academy has begun construction on a major redesign and upgrade of its Middle School athletic fields located at the corner of Brunswick Road and Central Avenue. This philanthropically-funded project was approved by MKA’s Board of Trustees in February 2022. To date, the school has raised 80% of the project costs and will continue fundraising to get the project over the finish line.
As part of MKA’s Strategic Plan, the multipurpose turf field will contribute to improving the school’s teaching and learning environments to ensure that they are attractive, flexible in purpose, conducive to teaching and learning, and that they fully support its programs and the full potential of its students.
In the works since 2019, this project has been developed with input and feedback from Montclair community members and the school’s neighbors. The Montclair Township Zoning Board approved the school’s proposal on Wednesday, February 9. MKA awarded a contract to American Fields of America with an expected completion date by September for the start of the 2022-2023 school year.
The impact and benefits of this much-anticipated project are far-reaching since these fields are MKA’s largest and most-used outdoor facility, utilized by students from all three MKA campuses for sports and play. Middle School students will have a year-round space to enjoy recess, which is a critical component of MKA’s academic program because of the positive effects it has on improving cognition and developing social skills. The field layout will be reconfigured to maximize the number of teams and activities using the fields simultaneously. For fall sports, the field will be divided into two adjacent fields with one large enough for Middle School and JV regulation games and the other large enough to practice, putting more athletes on the fields at one time. For spring, the softball diamond will be located to the southwest corner, and the baseball diamond will be moved to the opposite northeast corner, creating two regulation size playing fields with equitable access for boys and girls sports.
In alignment with MKA's Commitment to Environmental Sustainability, improvements to the Middle School fields will have an added community benefit of improving stormwater management by adding water detention basins and raising the grade of the fields. The detention basins are designed to slow down stormwater runoff and decrease downstream flooding caused by heavy precipitation. Safety measures for the fields will include fencing and netting along boundary areas. The school's additional investment in landscaping means an increased number of trees from the original proposal and the use of native species for plantings.
MKA Director of Athletics Todd Smith shared his excitement, “We’re thrilled to move forward with this project. Enhancing MKA’s outdoor spaces by making their use more flexible is a win-win-win. Student learning is improved, athletic facilities are upgraded, and the community benefits through better water management in our neighborhood.”