Mar 14, 2012 Neil Benjamin Jr. Uncategorized
The town of DeWitt has grand plans for the park donated by Carrier Corporation in 2010 to turn it into a $1.4 million youth sports mega-complex that will contain energy sustainability in parts. On top of that, it will also be handicapped accessible and will cater to children with special needs.
Willis Carrier Recreation Center will cost about $1.4 million in total, according to Mike Moracco, DeWitt’s director of operations and sustainability, who also noted that the cost figures can fluctuate and the numbers given are not yet set in stone.
In total, eight fields will be built and many of them will be for multi-use. The goal, Moracco said, is to help bring big-time youth tournaments to the area and to also help stimulate DeWitt’s economy. He said something like the Little League World Series, with which Moracco has been in touch about possibly hosting part of the event, would bring people to the area. In turn, hotels, restaurants and other local attractions would benefit financially from an influx of people.
“We’ve had talks with the Canadian-American Little League about possibly hosting a tournament,” Moracco said. “Lacrosse is also huge in this area, so we’re looking to help out there. The main thing is that the facility needs to be built so it can be used in time to fit leagues’ schedules.”
One of the things Moracco and DeWitt Supervisor Ed Michalenko were thrilled about is that the park will not only allow easy access for the handicapped, but also the fields will be suited for children with special needs to play on them. The Syracuse Challenger Baseball League is for those children, ages 5 to 21, and both said they expect the league will call the fields home.
“They key thing is that those with special needs will be able to play on fields that aren’t separate from the other fields,” Moracco said, adding: “It’s something you usually don’t see.”
He said it will make it much easier for parents with multiple children, including those with special needs, because they won’t have to run the kids to separate places for games.
“We have 180 kids in the Challenger League that this will provide for,” Moracco added.
Dom Cambareri, program director for Challenger, is part of a committee that looked into the complex. He said he’s thrilled his league, which is associated with New York District 8 Little League, will be getting the chance to play all its games in a central location.
“It will allow me to fulfill a special vocational call to help the special needs children realize their dreams of playing baseball,” Cambareri said. “There’s no difference in desire for these kids to play the game of baseball and emulate their heroes on the diamond.”
Cambareri, who has been program director since 2004, added that he is helping an effort to raise about $850,000 by the Carrier Project Committee so this project will definitely see the light of day.
Moracco also said that the complex would be able to host a 100-team baseball tournament.
So far, about $250,000 has been raised, leaving approximately $1.2 million left in funds to be raised through grants and corporate sponsorship. Both Michalenko and Moracco said taxpayers won’t be asked to foot any of the bill, and because of that there has been an outpouring of support from the community for the complex to be completed.
“We realized there is a big need for the park here,” Michalenko said. “The kids would benefit from it, but it’s also in an ideal location that will help local businesses.”
The 28-acre property is bordered by Roby Avenue, Kinne Street and Grover Avenue, and is encased by some woods. Approximately 20 acres would be used for the fields. Michalenko said that border will help keep some of the noise inside the park.
Of the eight new fields, six will be used for baseball, two for softball and four designated for lacrosse. Two of the fields will be for just baseball, while the rest will be for multi-sport use. Pitcher’s mounds will be movable, saving a little bit of money in that aspect.
Moracco said the concession stand and pavilion that are in the plans will be built with solar panels on the top.
“If we generate some of our own energy, we can offset some of the cost,” he said.
Neil Benjamin Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.