Council: Let’s play ball

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 7, 2005

City leaders went to bat for local ball players on Wednesday.

Several Suffolk City Council members, during their work session, recommended the city look into partnering with schools and the new North Suffolk YMCA to affordably provide much-needed public athletic fields.

The $5.9 million Driver Sports Complex, planned for 384 acres on Sleepy Hole Road, includes plans for five adult softball fields, two Little League fields and soccer fields, said Lakita Frazier, the city’s director of parks and recreation.

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But the $950,000 the city has earmarked for the project through 2007 will not cover construction of the ball fields, she said.

However, it will cover the facilities’ design costs, she said.

&uot;Ball fields are among our top priorities,&uot; Frazier said.

Ballfields were one of the top recreation needs identified by the public during a series of community meetings last April, she said. Other top priorities included an equestrian center and skate park, she said.

Frazier is already exploring grants, corporate sponsorships and public/private partnerships to help cover development of the park.

&uot;I will be aggressively seeking sponsorships,&uot; she said.

Councilwoman Linda T. Johnson and Councilman Charles F. Brown said the YMCA could be a viable option to providing ball fields.

&uot;The YMCA could be an inexpensive, quicker way of getting recreation in the north end,&uot; Johnson said.

Councilman Calvin Jones sugggested talking with the school system about joint use of the ball fields.

That could be creating facilities at bargain prices, Jones said.

Also, the fields would be strategically located around the city, just as the schools are, he said.