MAHOPAC, N.Y.— The baseball fields at McDonough Park will get some major upgrades this winter thanks to a collaborative effort between the town’s Recreation and Parks Department and the Mahopac Sports Association (MSA).
Jim Gilchrist, director of the Recreation and Parks Department, and Bob Buckley, chair of the Recreation and Parks Advisory Committee, went before the Town Board at its Dec. 14 meeting to spell out the various projects they have in mind.
The collaboration between the town and MSA includes repairs to two batting cages at the park, including the installation of new netting and special turf designed to deaden batted balls; the installation of gravel around the cages to mitigate runoff and help with drainage; the purchase of a new portable fiberglass mound; three protective tarps that will have weighted perimeters to keep them from blowing around; four new foul poles and yellow capping for fences; a new flag pole; and cosmetic upgrades to the bathrooms, such as a fresh coat of paint.
“MSA came to us with a comprehensive plan and it was not just what they wanted to do but they came with a substantial amount of money too. They wanted to be invested users,” Buckley said. “They brought some good ideas to the table and they brought some money to the table. That is the new approach of the advisory committee; when you come to us, you can’t just come with hat in hand because, unfortunately, we don’t have the funds. But MSA Baseball said they have the finances to help offset these costs.”
Gilchrist said MSA plans to hold a work party with volunteers to fix up the bathrooms.
“They’ll do some repairs and give them a fresh coat of paint and really clean them up,” he said. “They will get all vested people involved and really turn the place around.”
Gilchrist said if larger repairs are needed, such as replacing doors or light fixtures, the town will take care of those projects.
The estimated cost of the batting cage improvements is $10,100. The portable mound, flagpole and three protective tarps will cost $5,500. The foul poles and yellow fence guards come to $3,000, and the cost of the work party for the bathrooms is estimated at $500.
Besides the MSA projects, the town will undertake several projects of its own at the ballfields, including backstop repairs.
“This will be similar to the repairs we made last year at Sycamore Park where we used all the existing framework and anything that was out of plumb (not completely vertical), the footings were removed and reset and the piping was sprayed black with Rust-Oleum paint,” Gilchrist said.
Gilchrist said there is money set aside in the recreation budget to do the backstop repairs, but he wants to put the job out for bid early so the work can be completed in time for opening day next spring.
“We can probably get both fields done with what we’ve budgeted,” he said. “There is $45,000 in the line for that work, but if we go over a little bit, we have the capital line for our parks and we might have to take some funds for that. The original quote was to just do the 90-foot field, but we are going to try and do the 60-foot field too. So, we will have all new black chain-link fencing to go along with the new safety netting that is being installed currently.”
Gilchrist said both fields at McDonough are also in need of infield renovations due to safety concerns. The 70-foot field needs to have its clay infield extended further into the outfield.
“We will have to purchase new clay, probably a truckload or so, and have the field laser-leveled and have it ready for opening day next spring,” he said.
The 90-foot field has to have its clay infield cut back from the outfield by about 20 feet, which means that turf will have to be purchased and installed.
“We will need to bring in a significant amount of turf,” Gilchrist said. “We would like to get it done before the spring season starts, but it’s all weather-dependent.”
Gilchrist said there is money already in the budget for these jobs because some other projects came in under budget.
“I was asked to go through the current budget by the Advisory Committee to see if we have any funds that are available to address some of these safety concerns on both baseball fields,” he said. “We were fortunate that some work we did at Baldwin Park came in under budget, so we have some funds in the recreation budget to do it.”
Supervisor Ken Schmitt thanked MSA Baseball for partnering with the town and helping to fund some of the improvements at the park.
“It really is making it better for our kids and the visitors to the park who use the fields,” he said. “I want to thank them for their support and ponying up some of the cash to pay for this. It makes a big difference.”