September 2, 2014

Work underway for Lincoln Township ball fields

By Kevin Bunch
Staff Writer | news@arenacindependent.com
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LINCOLN TWP. — Excavation work is underway on ball fields at the Lincoln Township recreation park, located on Deep River Road.

The Standish-Sterling Youth Sports Organization (SSYSO) is behind the ball field construction, which got underway in May. SSYSO member Gary Roper said the group is currently installing the infields for the six planned ball diamonds.

“We figured we would get more bang for our buck by having the excavator come out and do all the fields at once,” Roper said.

He said much of the ground was already level, but needed the proper mix of sand and diamond dust added in, alongside sod removal.

The SSYSO has raised about $30,000 so far, Roper said, and that money went into the infield work currently underway. The money was raised from a variety of sources, including raffles, a charity basketball game with the Detroit Lions, and grants from organizations such as the Arenac County Fund, which donated $750, and the Michigan Baseball Foundation, which donated $2,000.

“We appreciate what the community is doing to support our cause,” Roper said. “We raised a little over $30,000 and that was all thanks to the community.”

The SSYSO is planning additional fundraisers going forward, and Roper said they hope to have the first field complete by the time youth leagues begin playing in April of next year, with a pace of having one to two fields completed and fenced in each year until all six have been constructed.

Roper said while there are fields in the area already, such as the ones at the schools and in Deep River Township, there is a growing need for additional ones.

“Those are great fields, but we need more to accommodate the teams, and to avoid scheduling conflicts,” Roper said. “Even now all the fields are being used six days a week.”

Roper said the organization is “on the same page” with the area Little League, and is also planning on hosting tournaments, all-star games, and traveling teams in July at the fields, once the little league season ends.

The Lincoln Township board approved the SSYSO’s construction efforts in March, as the board was interested in developing the recreation park property. Former Supervisor Andy Kopaczewski donated the 15 acres of land in 2006, but plans for development slowed after talks with Standish fell apart when the city changed city managers. An additional two acres owned by the Standish-Sterling Fire Authority was donated for use with the caveat that if the SSYSO does not end up using the land, it reverts back to the fire department.

The township also plans on building a pavilion and new township hall on the property. The current township hall was constructed in the 1930s, and plans have been in place to replace it since 2006 when park development started getting underway.

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