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Town land eyed for new softball field in Hadley

  • —GAZETTE FILE PHOTO



Staff Writer
Monday, December 13, 2021

HADLEY — A new softball field could be developed on vacant land south of the North Hadley Fire Substation on River Drive.

The Select Board recently gave unanimous support to the Park and Recreation Department’s plan to pursue construction of the softball diamond, which would be the first dedicated softball field in town.

Park and Recreation member Jim Shea told the board that the project is being developed because softball players currently play on baseball diamonds that already have a good deal of use.

“They have absolutely no place to call their own at this point,” Shea said.

Instead, the softball players and their families have to request playing time on the Cal Ripken League fields, situated between the elementary school and public safety complex. Shea said the girls often get less desirable times for using those fields.

Shea said the town would be providing only the land and no money toward the costs of construction. Earlier designs show a baseball and soccer field could be built near the fire station, though Shea said there is not a need for a new soccer pitch at this time.

“I’d just like to give these girls a place that is going to be theirs,” Shea said.

Select Board member Joyce Chunglo noted that some of the baseball and softball diamonds in town have been lost in recent years, including ones next to the former Russell School and North Hadley Hall, and at Zatyrka Park.

“I’m all in favor that we should allow this field to be made into a softball field so that we can accommodate the young girls in town who want to play softball,” Chunglo said.

Fire Chief Mike Spanknebel said the project wouldn’t interfere with operations at the substation. “I think it’s a good fit and very reasonable what Jim is asking to do,” he said.

Spanknebel said a training area and a possible town animal pound would not be compromised by the development on the 9-acre parcel that the town originally purchased in 2017.

In addition, Shea noted that, while there will be a backstop installed behind home plate and some fences down the first and third base lines, snowmobilers who cross the property during the winter will still have access to that trail.

Any maintenance would be done by families, as is done with the Cal Ripken fields, and are not expected to be added to the Department of Public Works responsibilities.

Shea said funding is not yet identified, but he has asked state Rep. Dan Carey, D-Easthampton, about the possibility of state money. Chunglo also suggested that Community Preservation Act money could be used.

But Shea said that, while it’s possible CPA funding will be sought, there are plans to pursue money from that account for a project at the underused Zatyrka Park.

The unidentified project will be spearheaded by Greg LaSage, the new Park and Recreation director who Shea said recently relocated to the region from Pueblo, Colorado, where he had overseen a baseball complex.