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Field of dreams? City may build new baseball diamond

Thorold to enter negotiations with school board about proposed turf field at McMillan Park; City Hall recommends building new ballpark in the Rolling Meadows subdivision

Could the baseball diamond be leaving McMillan Park?

At Tuesday night’s city council meeting, councillors voted to enter negotiations with the District School Board of Niagara (DSBN) about the proposed turf field at McMillan Park. However, some of the particulars of the project remain unclear.

As reported by ThoroldToday, the DSBN wants to install a full-size synthetic turf football field at McMillan Park.

After courting feedback from the public and affected user groups, the city has put three different proposals for the park on the table.

Proposal one would leave McMillan Park the way it is now. Proposal two would install a turf field but remove the splash pad and playground—an issue that had some local residents concerned.

Proposal three would install a turf field at McMillan Park—and build a brand new baseball diamond in the Rolling Meadows subdivision. City Hall staff recommends this proposal.

Several user groups were on hand at Tuesday's meeting to give their perspective.

The president of the Thorold Minor Baseball League, Chris Green, said he was enthusiastic about a new baseball field at Rolling Meadows. He explained that, because of rapid growth, the league needs more space.

“We have a tsunami of players coming through the system,” Green told council. “Our goal is to make them lifelong baseball players. Thorold Baseball is thriving.”

Gene Citrigno, the president of the Thorold Soccer Club, shared his excitement about the turf field. Currently, the soccer club uses C.E. Grose Park but the grass field there is often unusable because of weather conditions.

“The turf field would allow us many things,” Citrigno told council members. “We are currently unable to hold tournaments. We would have less cancellations due to rain. The competitive players want to play on turf field.”

After the presentations, councillors discussed how to move forward. To build the turf field, the park would need to be sold or leased to the DSBN, and councillor Jim Handley feels the city is rushing to get the deal done.

“It can wait another year,” he said. “We have a lot of unanswered questions. I’m not against the project, I just don’t want to expedite it through. Before we decide anything we need to decide whether or not we are selling the land, or we’re leasing it, and we go from there.”

Councillor Carmen DeRose asked the city’s director of public works, Geoff Holman, about the fees that different user groups would have to pay the DSBN to use the park.

“The use of the soccer field and track is important for the community because it’s a place where they can go and have active and passive recreation,” answered Holman. “Part of this deal needs to include a long-term commitment that will allow community groups to access this facility at little or no cost.”

In the end, City Council voted to appoint councillors Ken Sentance and Anthony Longo to get together with City Hall staff and some of the affected user groups, and enter preliminary negotiations with the DSBN.