Lancaster Depew Baseball League seeks support to build indoor facility
The league consists of more than 850 players and when the season is over, a facility to provide pre-season, as well as in-season, instruction, practice and clinics for each player’s growth is not available for the league in Lancaster. That is why back in 2009 the league set a goal to build an indoor practice facility at Westwood Park.
“This is not some new thing that we are looking to do. This is something we thought about a long period of time,” said Dave Mansell, board member and in charge of traveling tournaments for the league. “We have been fund-raising for the last two years to generate funds to do this.”
President of Lancaster Depew Baseball, Paul Cumbo and Mansell came to a town board meeting a couple of weeks ago to update the board as to where the league stands with the project.
“It is something we really need,” said Mansell. “People with kids spent a lot of time going to SPP [Sports Performance Park] in the Eastern Hills Mall, spending a lot of dollars to go up there. We as a league spend between $10,000 to $15,000 a year going there. The Epic Center and Sahlen’s Sports Park is not built for baseball. There is a need for this for sure.”
The league has received local donations and sponsorships for the project; raising to date $100,000. The proposed facility would have about $8,100 square feet of playing area and until a final concept is agreed upon, a concrete figure for the cost of the project could not be provided, but the league anticipates roughly $640,000.
The cost of the utility hook ups to the facility would be covered by the town, something which former supervisor Robert H. Giza promised and Town of Lancaster Supervisor Dino Fudoli said he would honor by using funds from the parks and recreation department. But the monthly costs of the utilities would be the responsibility of the league.
“Over the course of the last two years, we have had a lot of different meetings with different people. We have gone from 14,000 square feet, to 20,000 square feet, to a 40,000 square foot facility. We have gone the whole gamut. The 8,100 square feet is not a final plan. It is a concept that we’re looking for support right now.”
Mansell said the tipping point came about a couple of months ago, when a meeting was held with Fudoli, Director of Administration & Finance for the town, Dave Brown, and the town’s outside attorney, Jeff Swiatek.
It was at this point, it was recommended by Swiatek that this should be a town project.
Fudoli remarked that surrendering town park land is a difficult process and the state legislature would have to agree to turn land over to the league and there is no guarantee it would happen.
“This could be a town project, which would essential cost the taxpayers nothing because the little league baseball would pay for this, but essential it would be a town project because it is on town land,” explained Mansell. “We do have sponsors lined up to help us generate funds. The bottom line is this, the end result, what we are asking for is the support to build this building.”
The town would also finance the project, with the league paying the costs with interest over a 10 year period. The borrowing rate is a lot cheaper for a town then for private entities and even non for profits, remarked Fudoli.
To keep the facility operational year round, the league estimated it will need annual revenue of $91,000 to support the facility. Potential sponsors are lined up, according to Mansell.
“Our goal is to develop and promote sports,” said Cumbo. “We will include soccer, offer it to the Ponytails, we will offer it to football, and to cheerleaders. So it is really to promote the welfare of the community by promoting a facility to get them involved in youths sports or youth organizations whether it is baseball or soccer, but obviously baseball is stepping up to drive that.”
If the other sports take advantage of the facility, the facility will be used by more than 90,000 youths, according to baseball officials.
“So, usage wise it would get used a ton,” said Mansell. “This is not a building that would be built and then sitting there by any means. If the town supports it, we can get a final concept in place in the next few weeks.”
The board did not make any discussions of this matter, but members did not seem to oppose the idea.
“Ultimately, it will be somewhat of a mirror image of what the Ponytails have done out at Walden Pond,” said Fudoli.
Fudoli added there are some legal questions and some legal hurdles to be gone over. Also, there are wetlands around Westwood Park and some issues with tapping into the water line that runs to the pavilion, a separate water line may be the solution.
Town of Lancaster Council Member Ronald Ruffino said from one day the league has had his support.
The next Town of Lancaster Board meeting will be held at 8 p.m. Monday, Aug. 20, at the town hall, 21 Central Ave., Lancaster.