Spruc­ing up South River ball­field

Recre­ation group look­ing at fund­ing op­tions

The Compass - - NEWS - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER

It’s been awhile since any soft­ball has been played on the ball­field in South River.

These days you’re more likely to see a group of young peo­ple hang­ing out there and away from pry­ing eyes than some­one us­ing it as an ath­letic arena.

All of this is some­thing the South River Recre­ation Com­mit­tee is look­ing to change in the near fu­ture through a recre­ation re­ju­ve­na­tion pro­ject. The mem­bers are chair Melissa Hier­lihy, Maria Power, Mag­gie Snow, Dana Tay­lor and Char­lotte War­ford.

The group has its eyes on sub­mit­ting the ball­field pro­ject to the Aviva Com­mu­nity Fund, a com­pe­ti­tion that of­fers a to­tal of $1 mil­lion to projects that garner the most votes online. The South River group is hop­ing to get $100,000 for the pro­ject.

The dead­line to sub­mit their ap­pli­ca­tion is Oct. 2. On Sept. 25, four mem­bers of the five-per­son group was at the ball­field to take some pic­tures of the field.

They saw the over­grown in­field, di­lap­i­dated shed on the third base side and the col­lapsed dugouts.

Still, there is plenty of up­side to the ball­field. The fenc­ing is in rel­a­tively good con­di­tion and the back­stop is in tremen­dous shape. Those are pil­lars for which the group to build upon mov­ing for­ward.

Be­neath this evening’s fall­ing sun, a trio of chil­dren make their way around the field. With a puppy nip­ping at their heels and a plas­tic bat in hand they make the most of it.

For a few fleet­ing mo­ments, it is pos­si­ble to see what the field can be.

“I would say this could be the corner­stone for what we’re do­ing in the com­mu­nity,” said Hier­lihy.

The field would also pro­vide am­ple space for the town’s up- com­ing 50th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions next year.

“The de­mo­graph­ics have changed,” said Hier­lihy. “There’s lots of new homes ... and this area is a busy area.

“So, there is a need for recre­ation fa­cil­i­ties and this al­ready ex­ists.”

Mem­o­ries pro­ject

In ad­vance of ap­ply­ing to Aviva, the recre­ation com­mit­tee sought any mem­o­ries or feel-good sto­ries about the ball­field that com­mu­nity mem­bers may have. The idea was to in­clude them in their pro­posal. The group thought the re­cep­tion was strong.

There were mem­o­ries of the sum­mer recre­ation pro­gram that used the field and plenty of hazy sum­mer af­ter­noons spent rid­ing bikes along the path.

The cur­rent recre­ation com­mit­tee in South River got its start just over a year ago. It’s a chore to trace back to the last time such an en­tity ex­isted in the town.

Made up of moth­ers and com­mu­nity mem­bers, the group is look­ing to turn the boat around on giv­ing chil­dren some­thing to do.

“Since we’ve been formed, we’ve been try­ing to get a lot of things done in the com­mu­nity for all ages,” said Tay­lor. “Most of our stuff has been fo­cused on chil­dren. There isn’t a whole lot here for chil­dren. The play­ground was old and dan­ger­ous and we’re hop­ing to have it up and run­ning in the next month or so.”

Out­side of bring in new play equip­ment, they’ve looked at putting in hockey nets on the slab of pave­ment be­hind the play­ground. Cre­at­ing a walk­ing trail that would link to the site of the ball­field is another pos­si­bil­ity.

“We can see about adult-ori­ented pro­grams as well,” said Tay­lor. “It’d be good to get it go­ing for chil­dren and adults in the area.”

Mem­bers needed

Re­shap­ing the recre­ation world in a com­mu­nity can be an ex­haust­ing or­deal for any num­ber of peo­ple.

Same goes for the five-mem­ber South River group. They said they’re al­ways look­ing for fresh faces and new ideas when it comes to volunteering.

“We’d like to have some more mem­bers,” said Tay­lor.

Any­one in­ter­ested in volunteering for the com­mit­tee or just in­ter­ested in the group’s ac­tiv­i­ties can visit its Face­book page by search­ing Town of South River Recre­ation/So­cial group.

In the mean­time, the group will con­tinue to push for­ward with the play­ground pro­ject, as well as fil­ing out the ap­pli­ca­tion for the Aviva fund.

PHOTO BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER/THE COM­PASS

A group of young chil­dren stand in a bushel of alder bushes that have sprung up in the in­field of the South River ball­field. They are, from left, Cam­ryn Tay­lor, Hay­den Hier­lihy and Ja­cob Ralph. They’re just a few of the chil­dren who would ben­e­fit from the South River recre­ation com­mit­tee’s goal of spruc­ing up the ball­field.

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