November 22, 2014

Lincoln Township clears path for ball field contract

By Kevin Bunch
Staff Writer | news@arenacindependent.com
Posted

LINCOLN TWP. — The Lincoln Township board approved a recommendation by the township’s planning commission to let a local youth sports group construct ball fields inside its proposed recreation park, located near Deep River Road, during its meeting March 8.

The board and the Standish-Sterling Youth Sports Organization (SSYSO) now must write a contract agreement detailing precisely what is expected of each other.

Supervisor David Hertzberg said it would be great for giving kids something to do, and followed the wishes of Andrew Kopaczewski, the longtime former township supervisor who donated 15 acres of land near Deep River Road in 2006 for a recreational park and new township hall. Kopaczewski passed away March 1.

“It gets kids playing ball and off the street,” Hertzberg said. “It was Andy’s dream, and I think it’s a great thing for our community.”

The SSYSO had previously looked into locating their fields on Airpark Drive in Standish, but after Vantage Plastics took interest in buying a portion of the available land the group opened talks with Lincoln Township.

Gary Roper, representative of the SSYSO, said with the timing of getting everything approved, it was unlikely the first field would be ready by the end of the children’s official baseball season. In the best case, he said, it would be completed in June.

“It’s not out of the ballpark,” Roper said. “But with the timetable of meetings I didn’t think it would be easy to do.”

He expected at least one field to be ready by next spring, however. And depending on financing, he hoped up to four could be prepared. Roper added as soon as the frost laws on road weight limits have been lifted, construction could begin.

According to SSYSO member Rich Sullivan, the group has raised $20,000 so far for its first field. Constructing a field can take between $32,000-35,000, but once an agreement has been reached with a municipality the group will be eligible for more grants. The group can also apply through Lincoln Township for two-percent gaming funds from the Saginaw-Chippewa Tribe.

Meanwhile, Hertzberg said the township could begin taking estimates for the new hall, pavilion, and concession stand the board has wanted to build on the property, though there is no timetable on their completion. He added the terms to allow the SSYSO to use the concession stand and the proposed well and septic system needed to be hammered out in the official agreement.

The existing hall was constructed in the 1930s, and the township has been looking to replace it since 2006. Discussions with the city of Standish to develop the recreational park property alongside a new hall stalled after a changeover in city managers.

Once completed, the SSYSO plans on using the fields six days a week, Sunday-Friday, for various baseball, softball, and tee-ball leagues between April and July. During that time period, the group said it would be responsible for upkeep and maintenance of the fields.

In exchange, the group would have priority for using the fields if the township looks into renting them out. The township would also be responsible for keeping the property cleared the rest of the year.

Township Trustee Marcella Ruszala reported the township had secured unused, adjacent land from the Standish Area Fire Authority for the ball fields, on the condition that if the land is not used the authority would regain control. The fire authority contribution amounts to approximately two acres.

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