Youth Sports Complex taking shape
G.R. Lyons, a member of the board of directors for the Janesville Youth Sports Baseball and Softball Association, said all baseball and softball fields have been completed and grass is starting to grow in the outfields.
In fact, the girls softball league already has begun playing on some new fields this summer. Bathrooms, concession stands and some dugouts still need to be constructed before the facility can fully open in spring 2011.
Development of the baseball facilities started on the east side of Wuthering Hills Drive in 1996, when two diamonds were built.
The youth sports board in 2008 pitched to the Janesville City Council the idea of adding four baseball fields and four softball fields at an initial cost estimate of $2.5 million. The city originally committed $1.2 million for the project, while the youth sports association pledged to pick up the rest through donations and fundraising. Lyons said that except for installation of irrigation and fencing, all labor and supplies were donated.
The city began construction last year with rough grading and infrastructure for the new fields. Contractors began laying infields and building dugouts this summer and are expected to finish the concessions and bathrooms sometime in the fall.
Duffy Dillon, another youth sports board member, said construction picked up after the board took out a construction loan of about $325,000, which they plan to repay with the sale of their complex at Woodman Road. While taking out a loan is a riskier approach than selling the property first, Dillon said it was done to keep construction on schedule and make good on its promise to the city council that some fields would be in use by 2010.
“We showed them (the city council) that we appreciate what their commitment has been to this project, and we want to be as excellent a partner to them as they’ve been to us,” Dillon said.
The Woodman Road property couldn’t be sold until the board was sure it would be able to play baseball games at the Youth Sports Complex. Now that they know the fields will be ready for a 2011 start, Dillon expects to list the property in the next two weeks.
Even if construction stays on schedule, however, the complex won’t be completely finished next spring.
The youth sports association still is short a half million dollars, the amount needed to purchase stadium lights for the new fields. Dillon said the lights would allow flexibility in scheduling games.
While installation of lights likely will be delayed, Dillon is hopeful the rest of the project will be finished before the ground freezes. Dillon said contractors will wait for the girls softball league to finish the season before beginning construction on the concession stands and bathrooms.