Need for ballfields comes into sharper focus
Published 4:43 pm, Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Concerns persist about a possible shortage of youth ball fields in the near future in New Milford.
For nearly 60 years, New Milford Little League and then its successor, New Milford Youth Baseball/Softball, has rented acreage along Boardman Road for ball fields.
However, current property owner Garick Farms may need to expand its composting plant adjacent to the 7.4-acre site, in the process using some of the ball-field acreage for its business.
Garick has given the youth program a waiver to use the fields at least through the next season.
Still, the youth league officials and the town have already been working to find alternate fields.
An ad hoc committee was formed to explore other fields for use by the program's many hundreds of child athletes.
On Dec. 9, the Parks & Recreation Commission approved the use by the youth program of three ball fields built during the 1990s, but short-lived in their use, along Pickett District Road.
The commission also approved the use of another field at Helen Marx Park along Housatonic Avenue.
The youth program will pay for restoration of the field, which has been used only for adult baseball competition since the high school team's last game there in 2000.
The next Youth Baseball/Softball season will start in early spring and, except for a hiatus in late summer, continue well into October.
Beebe cautioned the use of these additional fields won't be a long-term fix.
"This is a short-term solution," he said Monday. "The fields on Pickett District were used by the league in the past and we've been able to work things out to use them again. We'll also continue using the Boardman fields next season."
Beebe added efforts are underway to have the town establish "centralized, town-owned fields."
He said fields will be at a premium for other sports in the future.
"Any sports group that doesn't own its own facilities will face this issue at some point," Beebe said. "We need to work toward having a more established, centralized, town-owned facility, not just for baseball, but for all sports."
Mayor Pat Murphy is in agreement.
"That has been my goal," she said of establishing a town-owned facility. "Having the ad hoc committee has helped us realize there is a lot of recreational space in the town that is unused. We're looking at what it will take to upgrade and improve what we have for cost efficiency."