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June 4, 2009

 

Time in the sun

C’ville park bolsters athletics, recreation

C'ville parkBob Ellis/staff photographer
The Crown City Little League Minors Division Nationals sit in their dugout Wednesday, waiting to take Alliance Bank Field at Ted Testa Park on Starr Road in Cortlandville. From left: Dane George, Matt Decker, Alex Morgan, Jordan Shortsleeve and Dakota Miller.

By ELAINE HUGHES
Staff Reporter
ehughes@cortlandstandard.net

CORTLANDVILLE — In between flipping hot dogs on the grill and handing candy to customers, Andy Jewett said he expected the concession stand at Ted Testa Park to sell about 50 hot dogs on Monday night.
“Sometimes, keeping the popcorn machine going is a full-time job, too,” said Jewett, whose 8-year-old son Michael plays in the Crown City Little League.
This spring, the town used a $250,000 state grant from Sen. James Seward’s office to construct a small building that contains bathrooms and a concession stand at the park on Starr Road.
While pouring ketchup on his hot dog, 42-year-old Tom Beattie said that it helps having a place to grab food, especially with games starting right after school.
“You still got to feed them (children),” said Beattie, who was watching his 10-year-old son Connor play baseball.
In 2001, a group of town officials and community members started planning the 15-acre park, which was originally called the Starr Road Project.
In 2007, the park was officially opened and was dedicated to Ted Testa, the Town Board member who led the project’s fundraising.
The park currently contains two Little League fields, a softball field and a soccer field.
In 2005, the fields were leveled using $200,000 raised from private donations.
A year later, a $168,000 grant through the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation paid for the planting of grass and the installation of bleachers, lights, baseball dugouts and sewer lines.
More than $1 million has been raised through grants and private donations for the park’s development in the past seven years, Testa said.
“The town’s expansion had created the need for a park,” he said. “We’ve worked on fundraising because we didn’t want taxpayers to have to pay for it.”
In the next year, an additional $90,000 will be needed for another set of bathrooms near the soccer field and three pavilions for residents to hold picnics and parties.
Two pavilions that could each hold approximately 40 people would be built near the soccer fields, and a larger pavilion that could hold about 60 people would be located near the concession stand.
Testa said the town is trying to raise the money through making presentations to local community groups and speaking with business owners to raise the funds within the next year to complete these developments.
Town Supervisor Dick Tupper said no funds have been raised yet for the new bathrooms and pavilions. He added the town has not applied for any grants for these buildings.
The new pavilions and bathrooms will be built by the town Highway Department to minimize the construction costs.
“Our ability to raise the money will depend largely on the economy,” Tupper said.
About 270 children ranging from 6 to 12 years old will use two baseball fields at Ted Testa Park this summer as part of Crown City Little League, said Jewett, who also serves as the information officer for the league.
Jewett estimated that the league raises approximately $1,000 each week from selling pizza, hot dogs and drinks at the concession stand during its nine weekly games held from mid-May to early July this year.
“The concession stand has been a great financial blessing,” Jewett said, noting the league struggled to finance its operations last year with only annual registration fees and business sponsorships.
In the future, the league’s board of directors will consider using the money raised from the concession stand to make upgrades — such as batting cages and bullpens — to the two baseball fields, Jewett said.
James Jacob, president of the Cortland County Youth Soccer Association, said the organization raises between $1,000 and $2,000 each spring from the concession stand at its fields in Homer and is looking to raise the same amount at the concession stand at Ted Testa Park next spring.
The raised money will pay for the organization’s expenses such as purchasing soccer balls each year for approximately 200 children in the league’s 5- to 6-year-old division.
“The soccer field at Ted Testa Park has given us a central home field in the Cortland area, which has provided a big boost to the organization,” Jacob said, noting the field is used by roughly 300 children, who range in age from 5 to 15 years old, during the organization’s spring league.
Jewett also said the fields at Ted Testa Park have allowed local baseball leagues to operate as an affiliate of Little League International Baseball and Softball.
Other local baseball fields did not contain enclosed team benches to protect children from fly balls, which is one of the safety measures required for becoming affiliated with Little League.
Before Crown City Little League was formed in 2007, local baseball teams were run by through the Cortland Youth Bureau and could not participate in Little League’s tournaments and coaches’ training, Jewett said.
After buying a hot dog at the concession stand on Monday night, Deanne Walker said she is glad to have a field nearby and not have to travel outside Cortland every week.
The stay-at-home mother also said the concession stand relieves the pressure of having to worry about making dinner when she returns from her 10-year-old son Austin Reed’s baseball games.
“(Little League) gives my son something to do,” said Walker, 29. “And we enjoy it, too.”

 

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