A committee that has spent more than a year studying the possibilities for relocating two little league baseball fields on Pantigo Road this week presented its proposal for new diamonds at the town athletic fields off Stephen Hands Path.
The committee said that building the new state-of-the-art artificial turf diamonds at the Stephen Hands Path property would anchor the fields as an athletic nexus for the town and provide more room for parking and athletic amenities like bleachers and batting cages to go with the new ballfields.
The proposal calls for two new fields to be built, one a regulation little league baseball field of the sort demanded by “travel teams,” the other a flexible design that could be adjusted on any given day to meet the dimensions used in high school girls softball games as well.
Mike Ruddy, a member of the search committee, said that local kids are at a substantial disadvantage because of the condition of the existing little league facilities in the town, particularly because of the lack of artificial turf diamonds, which limit the time the fields can be used in a rainy spring.
The new fields are being proposed because the town has agreed to lease the land the existing fields are on to Stony Brook Southampton Hospital for the construction of a new $30 million emergency room facility. In exchange, the hospital has pledged $1.75 million toward the construction of new fields at the site of the town’s choosing.
Councilman David Lys said the town hopes the new fields could be ready for the spring of 2022 and that he expects the town will also incorporate upgrades, at its own expense, to the existing bathroom facilities at the property as well as other possibly amenities like a new playground and electric car charging stations.
The proposal presented at Tuesday’s work session asks the Town Board to approve designating the property for the new diamonds and hiring engineering firm L.K. McLean Associates to draft construction plans for the new fields.
The 51-acre Stephen Hands Path site currently hosts two soccer fields and two volleyball courts.
“I think in some ways it will help this area be focused as a major recreational facility in the town,” said Larry Cantwell, the former town supervisor and a member of the committee.
Councilman Jeff Bragman raised some concerns about the artificial turf being proposed, which he said is made from “tire crumb” rubber, but said he was generally in favor of the location for the new fields.
“Regardless of where it is,” little league coach Jason Biondo told board members on Tuesday, “the fact that there will be a new facility is a huge plus. The kids deserve a new facility.”