Disabled athletes in Anne Arundel County will be playing baseball, lacrosse and soccer on a brand-new rubberized, all-purpose field by the summer as part of a nearly $1 million overhaul at Lake Waterford Park in Pasadena.
The renovation project includes creation of an adaptive recreation field, a covered pavilion serving as an outdoor classroom and dugout, and installation of pathways and parking in adherence with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
County Executive John R. Leopold and Councilman Daryl D. Jones, a Democrat who first pushed for the project, will be among the attendees at Wednesday's groundbreaking. The renovation of what is now called Challenger Field has an expected completion date of mid-June. County officials have started a contest to rename the field.
Leopold, a Republican, said the field is the first of its kind in Anne Arundel and only the third in the state designed for disabled athletes, calling it "an exciting endeavor."
Wendy Scarborough, superintendent of Lake Waterford and the county's recreation supervisor for adaptive and inclusive programs, said the new field will be accessible to those participating in the county-sponsored baseball league for disabled youths, The Challengers, as well as other organizations such as Recreation Deeds for Special Needs, the Handicapped Athletic Program of Anne Arundel County and the county's Special Olympics program.
"We're trying to break down those barriers," said Scarborough. "We're trying to make sure that everyone can ... have a good time."
Although the field was designed for baseball, the rubberized wheelchair-accessible surface accommodates a variety of sports, Scarborough said.
Gregg Meade, area director for the Anne Arundel branch of the Special Olympics, said he sometimes scrambles to find appropriate places for his baseball, track and field and bocce competitors to practice. Of the approximately 400 Special Olympics participants in the county, few are in wheelchairs, but Meade said he's hopeful that the new court will encourage more athletes who use wheelchairs to compete.
"You can't believe how this is going to help Anne Arundel County Special Olympics," Meade said. "I will be able to use these facilities and not have to fight for facilities. When this came along from the county, it was a boon."
The project will cost about $950,000 - about two-thirds of which was financed by the state.