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Envisioning Little League Fields in Windham

Written By The Mountain Eagle on 4/19/24 | 4/19/24

By Michael Ryan

WINDHAM - It will be easy to spot any Major League Baseball prospects at the new little league fields being proposed in Windham.

And local folks who remember the outfield evergreens at the Windham-Ashland-Jewett school ballpark might be pleasantly surprised.

Town board members, at a meeting last week, were presented with the first concept plan for the fields which would be built at the Windham Path.

Delaware Engineering principal John Brust was on hand for the session, sharing conceptual drawings of what would be two regulation-size ballfields, one for games and one for practice.

Both would be located to the left of the Route 23 entryway to the Path, enclosed within the circumference of the popular walking trail.

Nothing is final yet, in terms of whether the project will in fact unfold or how much it would cost, but efforts are continuing toward that end.

Government leaders, this past January, broached the subject after potential parking issues arose at the current itty-bitty ballpark, located for generations along South Street.

While the town owns the land where the ballpark is situated, parking areas adjacent to the property are owned by others who, over the years, have allowed it to be utilized for that purpose.

That recently changed when one owner wished to create a business opportunity, establishing residential buildings next to the field.

There is still ample parking elsewhere and the town, earlier this spring, secured agreements with those owners, at least for this year.

Town leaders, however, say they are responding to the reality that those owners could one day pursue different options, eliminating that parking, even while the field would keep being active.

In the meantime, officials asked Delaware Engineering to do research on existing facilities and envision a plan that might fit Windham.

Brust explained that the fields would be positioned with the sunset in mind, minimizing the flyball-lost-in-the-sun possibilities for the kids.

The facility would conceptually include a grandstand for spectators, rest rooms, dugouts and locker rooms for players, a playground, 20’ by 40’ pavilion, concession stand and maintenance/equipment room.

Those items could be phased-in over time. A gravel parking area will be provided immediately to the left of the present entryway, enough for 46 vehicles, beyond the center field fence.

Parents need not worry if a home run by one of the little leaguers might bust their windshield. The long drive would pay for itself in the future.

“If somebody hits one that far, sign them up for the Big Leagues today,” Brust said jokingly, noting there will otherwise be plenty of distance.

Brust said that in-between the centerfield fence and the parking lot, there will be space for spectators to sit, similar to what is done at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

The practice field, set below the main field, will not have outfield fences, something that town supervisor Thomas Hoyt hopes stirs memories.

“Maybe we will put some trees out there to get back to the traditional way it was at [Windham-Ashland-Jewett school],” Hoyt, referring to his alma mater and harkening back to his own long gone 

The baseball field at WAJ, when Hoyt was a student and ballplayer, had no outfield fences. A line drive deep in the gap or towering blast had to be legged out as the ball rolled between or soared into huge pine trees.

Brust noted the existing Windham Path will be minimally imposed upon, passing briefly between the new parking area and outfield spectator seating, making its final westerly loop.

The fields and facilities would occupy 5.57 acres, less than ten percent of the total property that measures 68.71 acres, officials said.

No timeframe has been established for when ground-breaking might take place, if the project moves forward, although likely not this year.

Hoyt pointed out that visits to other existing fields are forthcoming as the plans evolve, seeing what has been successful over the long term.

“Whatever we do, if we do it, would be done with utmost professionalism. We don’t want to lose the scenic value of the Path or do anything to mar the beautiful vistas at the Path,” Hoyt says.


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