The Chatham Athletic Foundation (CAF) was created in 2005 by a group of local parents to promote youth athletics and to increase safety in athletics through public education programs. Much of the initial work has focused on reducing the local governments’ burden of improving and maintaining athletic fields within Chatham Borough and Township and/or the Chatham School District.
When the Chatham Athletic Foundation was founded, Chatham was in the midst of a field crisis that was severely impacting the quality of its recreation programs. There were 14 playing fields in Chatham Township and Borough accommodating 4,051 youth participants. Since 2003, the number of participants in the recreation programs had increased 43% while the number of fields had stayed the same. The fields had inadequate capacity, which limited the sports opportunities available to our children. Deterioration of the fields was accelerating due to overuse, further reducing capacity and exacerbating the problem.
In the Fall of 2005 the Township and Borough of Chatham entered into an inter-local agreement to jointly fund the upgrade of athletic fields in both municipalities in conjunction with funding from CAF. After meetings with the Township Committee, the Borough Council, and representatives from virtually all sports in town it was determined that Lum Avenue Field would be the best first project. It was the least utilized space; it was located in the center of town; it could handle the widest number of sports and therefore positively affect the greatest number of children. In July 2006, the Chatham Borough Council passed a resolution authorizing the refurbishment of Lum Avenue Field using artificial turf. The total project cost of the Lum field refurbishment was nearly $900,000. CAF was please to provide one-third of the funding for this project.
Resurfacing Lum has significantly expanded its capacity and relieved overuse of other fields. Immediately prior to the refurbishment, Lum field was home to only recreation football from late summer to late fall. Now, Lum field supports football, field hockey, soccer, baseball and softball and is open all year. In addition, when the field is not being used by organized sports, it is available for parents and children to enjoy the sport of their choosing.
As its second major project, CAF has committed to provide one-third of the funding to refurbish a field in the Township using artificial turf. In selecting the project for the Township, CAF made clear its preference that the project serve as many programs as possible, and have a positive impact for the children of both towns. With that charge, the decision was pretty simple.
The CAF Advisory Board and the Township Committee thought that doing something at the Shunpike Field complex would be the best choice for the second CAF effort.
After working through wetland and stream encroachment issues with the Department of Environmental Protection, the Shunpike Field Complex project is expected to receive final approval by the spring of 2009. The field improvement work is targeted to begin shortly thereafter. CAF will assist in the funding of the portion of the project that will be artificial turf.
In addition to assisting in the maintenance of athletic fields, CAF plans to award grants to organizations that are exempt from taxation under section 501 (c) 3 including local schools and other nonprofit organizations that promote or enhance youth athletics. CAF will also host lectures for coaches, parents and the general public, at no charge, to educate and enhance the public's knowledge regarding sports related injuries and other issues.
To fund projects, CAF takes guidance from the Borough Council, the Township Committee and the Chatham Recreation Joint Advisory Committee.
CAF is not affiliated with any specific sports program in town nor is it involved in any aspect of managing recreational or other programs. CAF’s goal is to raise funds to enhance the athletic experience for children in all programs through more and better facilities and education.
CAF is a 501(c) 3 tax exempt organization. Donations made to CAF are tax deductible.