September 18, 2014

Location may change in construction of ball fields

James Kuch
Community members looking to build baseball fields in the Standish area are looking to construct the fields along Airpark Drive in Standish, rather than near the Standish-Sterling Central High School along Grove Road.
By James Kuch
News Editor | news@arenacindependent.com
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STANDISH — Early plans for constructing new community baseball fields in Standish have changed.

Community members, who have started an organization called the Standish-Sterling Youth Sports Organization, are now looking to construct new baseball fields on Airpark Drive in Standish, rather than north of Standish-Sterling Central High School along Grove Road.

Richard Sullivan, vice president of the Standish-Sterling Youth Sports Organization, said planning of the fields is still in early discussion, but he added that the group will be meeting with the City of Standish Planning Commission on Monday, Aug. 15 to discuss the possibility of constructing the fields.

“They (planning commission) are going to discuss if this is something the city should move forward with,” he said.

Standish Mayor Pro-Tem Jerry Nelson said he approached the group with the idea to construct the fields along Airpark Drive.

“I knew we had the property where the decommissioned airport is located, and I thought that would be a great place for the fields,” he said. “I feel like it is a better location. There is already a parking lot there, as well as city water and sewer.”

In May, Brian Bartlett, treasurer of the Standish-Sterling Youth Sports Organization, and other community members involved in the project approached the Standish-Sterling Community School District with the idea of constructing five fields on the district’s property.

Bartlett said then that the cost per field at the high school would be around $30,000, including adding fencing and constructing of dugouts.

Sullivan said further research determined that it could cost up to $60,000 to construct one field at the school property.

“When we looked at the property on Airpark Drive, we noticed the ground was much flatter and we would not have to excavate much in the area,” he said. “Plus, there is already a parking lot there.”

SSCS Athletic and Community Education Director Ben Welmers said community education would be able to use the fields no matter where they are constructed.

“Whatever they have to do to make it work and whatever is easier is better for everyone,” Welmers said. “We will still be able to run our program.”

Welmers said looking to build the fields to align with a municipality is a good decision for the group.

“They could have a better chance to get grants,” he said.

Nelson said the city attempted to build a park like this along Deep River Road around the same time that the Standish Maximum Correctional Facility closed in 2008.

“There were a couple of (grant) opportunities but we just could not do it at the time,” he said.

Sullivan said the organization wants to make the fields state of the art.

“Instead of regular dirt, we want to use crushed red clay for the infield, like the Great Lakes Loons have at Dow Diamond,” he said. “We really want this done the right way.”

These proposed ball fields are something Sullivan said he wishes he had growing up in Standish.

“The City of Standish has never really had anything like this for kids,” he said. “I remember I always had to go to the school to play ball. I think this is something the city would be proud to put their name on.”

Nelson said he would like to see Standish have a park like Sterling has.

“I hear people complain that there is not much to do here,” he said. “These ball fields are what we need in this city.”

Nelson said the city will back the project in anyway it can.

“The city council wants this to happen,” he said. “This group of people that want to build this have a desire to make it happen, and we will help them.”

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