AMESBURY – Town Park could soon become a hub for youth sports if the city’s new sports grounds plan goes into effect.
The city will soon innovate on the $ 60.5 million Sgt. Jordan Shay Memorial Lower Elementary School next to Cashman Elementary School, taking with it the two baseball fields that Amesbury’s Little League calls home.
Former mayor Ken Gray had planned to move the diamonds to the city-owned Woodsom farm next to Cashman, where seven football pitches would also be built.
The city pledged $ 1.5 million for the sports fields project and planned to use $ 300,000 from the school construction project and $ 1 million from a neighborhood improvement fund plan with The Heights Amesbury apartment complex to get there.
A sports field master plan was released in 2019, but the plan would prove unworkable, according to Caitlin Thayer, the city’s communications director.
“The original concept was just unobtainable due to the budget,” she said. “The whole plan was around $ 10 million and we just don’t have that money.”
Thayer said Mayor Kassandra Gove spent a year and a half conducting feasibility studies and researching potential locations for sports fields in the city.
“We need to find out where we are replacing the baseball diamonds,” Thayer said. “The Little League recently finished their season and right now they don’t have a field for next year. So it has become our main priority.
The mayor had looked at seven potential locations for baseball diamonds, including Woodsom Farm, but Town Park turned out to be the best location for baseball diamonds.
“We are going to turn the city park into a diamond hub,” Thayer said. “Right now there are three diamonds in Town Park. One big, two small. We are therefore going to add an additional diamond.
Little League president Leigh Noyes said his organization is considering three or four potential new homes, but the municipal park plan will work very well.
“The field is flat and most of the area is already being used for baseball anyway,” Noyes said. “It was exciting when the mayor brought it up.”
Thayer said the administration plans to make improvements to the high school athletic field where the varsity baseball team play.
“We heard from the fields master plan that the university field is underutilized and that it also has structural problems,” Thayer said. “So we’re going to fix the structural issues and add a few more teams so it doesn’t get so underutilized.”
She said the plan is to have enough baseball fields ready by the time Little League and varsity baseball start up again next spring.
“We want to make sure all of these teams are ready for next season,” Thayer said. “Next, we want to make sure we build another big diamond on the high school backfield for the 2023 season.”
Cashman’s sports grounds also included a concession stand that is expected to be recreated in Town Park, according to Thayer.
“There are already bathrooms in Town Park and we will be adding more,” she said.
Amesbury’s Little League has recently seen a resurgence in popularity.
The Amesbury Williamsport team – 11 and 12 – have qualified for the final four in the North Shore District and the league recently fielded 270 boys and girls aged 5 to 12.
“No place is going to have a perfect situation, but we’ll make it work,” Noyes said. “We travel to a lot of different cities and everyone has things to do too. No one has a perfect situation.
Editor-in-chief Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.