New Fields Could Ease Crowding

County Plans $5.2 Million Sports Complex Near Lake Shore

February 14, 1992|By Joel McCord | Joel McCord,Staff writer

The Lake Shore Youth Baseball League had to shut off the flow of youngsters trying to register this year. The Mountain Road Optimist Soccer League began setting up makeshift fields wherever officials could find 100 yards or so of open grass.

As development mushroomed on the Pasadena peninsula over the last 10 years, so did the crowds of youngsters straining the capacity of the two leagues and the Lake ShoreAthletic Association -- the three largest youth sports groups. And they have finally reached the breaking point.

"You look at the construction around here, it's been tremendous,"marveled Rick Hare, who has long been involved in local recreation programs. "And its continuing to grow with all these kids vying for times for these fields."

But the county Department of Recreation andParks may have an answer -- a new youth sports facility carved from half of a 132-acre wedge of sand and scrub pine squeezed between Mountain Road, Route 100 and Woods Road near Lake Shore.

Jay Cuccia, assistant to the department director, said yesterday that he plans to seek bids for the first phase of the $5.2 million project in March and have it completed in time for the 1994 baseball season.

"We'll clear the ground, set up the infrastructure, the stone base for the roads and do the beginnings of the fields this year, then assuming we get the phase II funding in fiscal 1993, we'll do the backstops, lights and concession buildings," he said.

The additional fields will "help us out tremendously," said Russ Hewitt, commissioner of the soccer league.

"We have 24 teams in county play, 19 more in intramuralplay and only four fields," he said. "We made some makeshift fields for the younger kids, but we still have a hard time scheduling practices for 740 kids."

"The only park we have in this area is Bodkin Park," Hare said. "Everything else is played on school fields."

Meanwhile, officials of the Lake Shore baseball league "had to put a capon the number of kids," said Jim Tully, the league president. The increase this year as "astronomical," he added. "We're overflowing withkids, and we have no room to play."

Efforts for the new park began in 1983 when Hare and other youth sports league leaders began circulating petitions asking the county for more playing fields.

In June 1989, the county purchased the tract from Michael T. Rose Associates, a Laurel real estate developer, for $1.36 million and began drafting plans for the playing fields.

Now, Cuccia said, he hopes to have the first bulldozers on the property in the spring.

When the park is finished, it will include three multipurpose fields for soccer, football and lacrosse, seven diamonds of varying sizes for baseball and softball, tennis courts and a tot lot. It should "satisfy the needs of the area for a while," Cuccia predicted.

And Tully, who complained about the length of time it has taken to begin construction, predicted that his program would have "almost no limit" with the additional playing fields.

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