Few surprises, challenging price tags
By Michael Turton
There was a full house at the Haldane auditorium on Jan. 30 as Curt Coronato of Ward Associates presented the consulting firm’s lengthy list of remedies for Philipstown’s ailing sports fields. The study began last fall and was prepared for the Town of Philipstown, Village of Cold Spring, Village of Nelsonville, Haldane Central School District and Garrison Union Free School District and numerous stakeholder groups that use the fields for a variety of sports. The presentation can be viewed in detail on the Haldane Central School District website.
Going into the study there was unanimous agreement many fields are in substandard condition as well as a perception that there is a shortage of facilities overall. The study clearly confirms the need for an overhaul of the area’s sports fields and in some cases the creation of new facilities. Coronato outlined general recommendations made in the report as well as specific proposals and conceptual drawings for eight key recreational properties. Estimated costs are included as are recommended priority actions to be undertaken in the initial phases of rehabilitating and improving the fields.
The most difficult work may lie in coordinating how the work will be undertaken – and most importantly, how the improvements will be paid for. “This [study] is just the beginning. The key word is ‘recommendations,'” Amber Stickle, director of the Philipstown Recreation Department said. “This committee has no ability to make decisions.” Stickle said that each participating organization will now have to consider the report and seek public input regarding implementation.
General Recommendations: Town-Wide Improvements
The report recommends that a central, major facility or “community game field” capable of withstanding heavy, extended use be established either at the current Haldane football field or Philipstown Park. It also suggests adding additional playing fields at the Philipstown Community Center in Garrison. The study states that an annual turf grass maintenance program, provision for water service, irrigation of grass fields and ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) access to fields and facilities be undertaken town wide.
Highlights: Recommendations for Each Playing Field
Haldane Main Field
The Haldane football field and surrounding area is recommended as the best location for the “Community Game Field.” The expanded and improved multipurpose field is perhaps the biggest recommendation of the study. The plan calls for a three or four- lane running track around the periphery of the field. That the track would not meet standards required for hosting track meets was a bone of contention at the meeting with some residents arguing a full track ought to be a priority. Coronato said that there is actually no locale within Philipstown’s parks suitable to house a full sized running track. He also said that a community the size of Philipstown should have five tennis courts compared to the two existing courts, which are in poor condition. The study suggests a number of potential locations for improved tennis courts, including at Haldane and at Philipstown Park. Bleachers, press box, restrooms and concession would be established on the north side of the field, opposite their current location. The price tag for recommended field improvements would range from $2 million to $3.25 million depending on whether grass turf or synthetic turf is used and whether or not lighting is included. Repairs to the existing tennis courts would cost in the $80,000 – $100,000 range. Three new courts would cost $200,000 – $225,000.
Haldane 9D Fields
Upgrades here would include an improved softball field and practice field, addition of a multipurpose court, a comfort station and storage, spectator seating and improved parking. Cost is estimated at $385,000 to $460,000
Garrison Union Free School Field
The existing softball field would be improved and the main playing field expanded and improved for multi-purpose use. Pedestrian access, parking and drainage would be improved. Estimated cost: $230,000 to $275, 000.
St. Basil Academy Field
No major improvements are outlined. Basics include handicap parking and improved access. The field is the only regulation sized soccer field but is not owned by any of the study participants. Residents pointed out that drainage is less than ideal. No cost estimates for improvement were provided. Interestingly, the concept plan seems to indicate that the site might be capable of housing a regulation running track.
North Highlands Fire Department Field
The fields here are not ADA compliant. The grass fields lack irrigation. Possible change in Little League Baseball rules may require expansion of the existing diamond. A children’s playground, safety netting and batting cage are shown as part of the concept plan. No costs provided.
The park is mentioned as a possible alternate location for the “community game field” as well as for a regulation running track. Existing fields exhibit poor drainage and were not properly designed or built. None of the fields are regulation size for varsity team use. The study calls for expanding and improving the playing fields and spectator areas, improving the entrance, access road and parking and adding a playground and support building with restrooms. Cost is estimated at $1.15 million to $1.31 million. If the “community game field” was developed here the additional cost would be $1.25 million to $1.5 million.
Philipstown Community Center Fields
Numerous improvements are recommended including: a new t-ball and practice field; new Little League Baseball field; batting cage; improved multipurpose field; support building with restrooms, and additional parking. Estimated cost of improvements is $1.24 million to $1.39 million. If the “Community game field” was developed here the additional cost would be $1.25 million to $1.5 million.
Cold Spring Mayors Park
Home to the only regulation size baseball field in Philipstown, the park suffers from poor drainage, lack of irrigation, poor storage, safety concerns and insufficient parking. Baseball layout is not up to standards and the softball field overlaps the baseball field. Proposed improvements would remedy those problems as well as relocate a multipurpose court and provide a jogging path. A “skinned” infield is recommended for the baseball field to allow multipurpose baseball use. Cost estimate is $980,000 to $1.07 million.
The study identifies the following as the initial steps to begin improving Philipstown’s sports fields:
- Implement a turf grass management plan on all fields.
- Fill depressions to even out playing surfaces.
- Locate water supply, provide irrigation.
- Consider a portable, above ground, shared irrigation system.
- Improve access at parking areas and provide pathways to fields and spectator areas.
- At Garrison School improve drainage as well as access and steps from the school and church.
- Repair cracks and color coat Haldane tennis courts.
- Add a bathroom and storage facility at Philipstown Park
- Work with St. Basil to improve access to the field.
- At the Philipstown Community Center improve the fields, add one T-ball/practice field and one regulation size soccer/multipurpose field. The study states this is the “best opportunity to add fields… these fields will be needed while others are being improved.
Haldane will hold a special meeting on Feb. 15. One of only two agenda items will be discussion of the Ward Associates study and how it relates to the school’s needs.
Photos by M. Turton
Report images courtesy of Haldane CSD