FALL RIVER: The need for more baseball fields in the Fall River area so organizers did not need to turn away youth players in the LWF Baseball Association has never been more real.
Now, because of funding for two new baseball fields—and a football field—at a vacant lot on High Road, that should help alleviate some of the pressure the non-profit organization faced and mean they won’t have to turn anyone away, said the treasurer for LWF Baseball Barry Dalrymple.
“It’s as close to winning the lottery as we can get,” said Dalrymple in describing what his reaction was to getting word of the funding. “Yes we have been supported by governments and local businesses through the years, they have always helped.
“I have never been involved in a massive grant like this. This will help a lot.”
The lot was to be the sight of a football field a few years ago, but nothing more was done to it.
He said it was an unexpected grant. LWF Baseball and Dragons Football joined together on the 25-year lease football has on the land a couple months ago.
“This kind of money allows us to make this more accessible to the wider community,” he said. “One of the first things that came to mind when we met was to have a crusher dust walking trail around the property so the community, instead of walking along the side of the road, will have a beautiful place and safe spot to walk.”
The province announced March 17 it was given the partnership of LWF Baseball and Dragons Minor Football $256,00 for the construction of two baseball fields (which will be more so used as fields for skill development and some games). There will also be a football field built at the site. The ball fields may overlap a little into the football field itself.
Both groups take in youth from across Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank (and upwards to Elmsdale and Enfield for Dragons Football.)
The money allows them to figure in other ideas to the larger scope of what things will look like and be available there, said Dalrymple.
What they originally applied for would have built some of the fencing for the two ballfields, the backstop, four dug out, but not the full thing, or any bleachers or goal posts for the football field, or side parking.
“All of those things we had hoped for over three, four, five years we can now do,” he said. “We can have that all done this year.”
Dalrymple said the funding is for the fields only and does not include anything else such as bleachers for either field.
He is hoping to get tenders from local construction companies over the next week or two, and get work started late spring or early summer. He said the field should be ready for full play by next year, although it could be ready for some practice/skill sessions by the fall.
He said the new fields will allow them to expand the girls ball program and add Challenger Baseball in 2024 to their programming, but they will need coaches and instructors to run this.
MLA Brian Wong, also the Advanced Education Minister, said he was thrilled to be able to support two community groups that many in his full area he represents use by gaining this funding for their projects.
“This is something the community has been trying to do for several years, and I know some government monies has been put towards developing it into a football field,” said Wong. “When Barry Dalrymple says there’s a huge need for baseball fields, I believe him. He’s the one at the root at it.
“He and his organization worked very hard at getting this done so I was very pleased to be able to get them monies to develop that field.”
Dalrymple said they faced the real possibility they would have to turn players away after losing a field in Sackville for playing use. That number of kids who would have been told no they couldn’t play was over 100.
“We were looking at turning kids away this year because of losing a ballfield,” he said. “We are going to figure out how to keep 100 kids playing this year while these fields are being built with the knowledge we will have fields next year.”
The new ball fields will be built without outfield fencing as the outfield will be on part of the football field. He said that no outfield fencing won’t be an issue for the kids playing. They won’t be regulation.
“These fields are to get our kids on the fields, especially our younger kids,” said Dalrymple. “These fields are a game changer.”