BOE Prepares To Shift Football Games


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Football on the lower field in the 1970s

We still don’t know exactly what lurks beneath the surface of the Verona High School football field, but the Board of Education is concerned enough that it is readying plans to move home football games to the lower field.

The engineering firm hired to do a scan of the upper field with ground-penetrating radar will be wrapping up work this morning, but BOE member Glenn Elliott said the preliminary report has uncovered “areas of concern” in two spots on the field.

There are pieces of metal beneath the surface in the northeast corner of the field and an unspecified problem in the southern end. The southern end zone was where a sinkhole developed a decade ago during a game against Immaculate Conception. BOE President John Quattrocchi said later in the meeting that the deep shaft that opened in the field two weeks ago seems to have been near the location of the kitchen for the boys home that occupied the site prior to the construction of VHS.  The upper field was created by widening a practice field with landfill, and much of the material for the landfill came from the demolition of a factory building at the Edison complex in West Orange.

The BOE approved spending up to $10,000 on the radar scan of the field at its meeting last night. But if the home games need to be moved to the lower field, it’s going to cost a lot more.

The lower field was the VHS football field from the opening of the high school in 1956 to the late 1970s. But almost all of the old bleachers were ripped out when the field, now known as Doc Goeltz Field, was turned into a baseball diamond and practice field. To hold the home football games there–and the marching band festival that is a key fund raiser for the music program– Verona would need temporary bleachers, bathrooms, electricity and a press box. Total cost: About $25,000 for all home games. Superintendent Steven A. Forte said after the meeting that if the problems on the upper field could be remediated quickly, Verona could rent the equipment it needs for only part of the fall. “It is not something we want to deal with given the state of our budget,” noted Elliott. “Our goal is to open the field as quickly and safely as possible.”

Forte said a decision on the upper field would be made by the end of this week.

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected].


  1. Football, of course a priority.
    Did anyone think about Centennial Field, lights restrooms, concessions, bleachers, it’s all there.
    At the same time ruin the baseball field, which will then need repairs, costing even more?!?!?

  2. Why do they need a press box? How about a temporary scaffold unit large enough to put a camera and operator on? Also, who is going to do the field prep – converting the baseball diamond etc. ? Is the town going to do it for the BOE ? I hope not since the BOE has proven that they like to waste taxpayers dollars after accepting shared services from the town and then go squandering money on lost law suit legal fees . Where is the accountability in this town of Verona, Mr. Mayor and council . Stop the spending – arrange to play the football games away at the other schools and make plans to do something right, put some thought into it as to what the future of Sellitto field will be before wasting more money to do a quick move to the lower field.

  3. Yesterday the lower field @ VHS had several town DPW trucks parked on it , there was a town bucket loader and it looked like all DPW workers on the field working on it. No BOE trucks were there. Are our DPW workers the ones that will be getting the football field in place for the high school games? Not that I mind them doing shared services but , we pay tax dollars for the town and the BOE – seems like the BOE is using up more than their share and dipping into a portion of the townships tax dollars by depending more and more on the town to help them. This does not seem to be an equitable arrangement to me – the BOE seems to take more and more from the town and what is the town getting in return? I am sure it is not as much as the BOE is getting from the town as far as helping out by sharing services goes.
    Does anyone in this town ever question anything? Look at the salaries of the BOE and money that they spend ( e.g. legal fees ????) recklessly. And the town council and Mr. Martin just let them keep asking the town to help out and use up more town tax dollars? Meanwhile there are certainly things in the town that need attention by the DPW but they are playing seconds to this football field fiasco!!

  4. I’m not that familiar with Centennial field – Steve is that big enough for a High School regulation football field? If so, that would be a good option. Anyone know why they didn’t consider that?

    Using another school’s field would still have an additional cost associated with it.

    I played football at VHS when they were building the new field. I never heard about these tunnels they are talking about, I did see the type fill they were using – underneath the top soil, it was a lot of construction materials – old cinder blocks, railings, wood etc. If the top soil didn’t fill in all the spaces between that type of fill, that should have caused the sinkhole.

  5. Centennial is big enough for football games. Games have been played there on occasion over the years if bad weather made the upper field unplayable. But the BOE couldn’t shift all of the home games there because Centennial is used by so many other teams, from the VHS boys and girls soccer teams to recreation leagues.

    For all the fields that Verona has, we don’t have enough.

  6. Wasn’t there another sink hole problem on the football field several years ago? Didn’t they play their home games elsewhere that season? Why not play them at the opposing team’s site if they could work out a schedule?
    Now how much is it going to cost the BOE to fix Sellitto field? Will they have a qualified contractor fix the problems or let the town guys ,who supposedly have nothing to do , fix it? I hope they use their heads when making this decision. Also, don’t they have any surplus money or are they using it all for their administrative salaries?

  7. Yes, Michelle, as has reported, there was a sinkhole in the southern end zone a decade ago that forced the football team to use Centennial Field. Centennial is not an option this year because it was already booked with other events. Other towns’ fields were similarly committed well before the hole opened on Sellitto Field this summer.

    It serves little purpose to assail people now in the BOE or town government for field construction decisions made more than 30 years ago. They weren’t in charge then. Did Verona use the wrong landfill then? Yes? Will we make the same mistake again? Hopefully not.

    The costs of this work are unfortunate now because of the overall economic climate. But whether the spending comes from the BOE or town government, ultimately the spending all comes out of our pockets. And people who want to influence that spending need to participate in town government and BOE meetings and not only comment on this site.

    As for attempting to connect the field spending to legal costs over a personnel matter in the schools, it’s not going to be productive. The BOE does not discuss matters about staff or students anywhere but behind closed doors.


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