The Times
  • Renovations at Vets Park will take a cooperative effort

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  • Repairs and improvements needed at Veterans Memorial Park will take the effort of the city, the school district, Pop Warner and the community, according to those involved with the project.
    The bleachers along the first baseline were closed off earlier this month after insurance representatives for the Little Falls City School District said they didn’t meet state regulations. Mayor Robert Peters also said work needs to be done with the lighting, though it’s not clear what exactly needs to be done at this point.
    “Everything is up in the air until we find the status of the lights,” said Peters, which he said are 42 years old. “The poles were guaranteed for 50 years. If it’s a matter of doing the brackets, it’s an easy fix.”
    Peters said, however, if the poles need to be replaced, it will become a “big project.”
    “We’ll have to buy all new steel poles and locate them someplace just outside of the field,” he said. “But we’re actually in limbo until we pass step one.”
    Peters said the lights are “key” right now, since the Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs play their night games at the field over the summer. He said he planned to meet with Avalon Associates, of Glens Falls, earlier this week to see what sort of grants maybe available for the park.
    According to the city’s website, the Veterans Memorial Park complex consists of “a baseball field, a lighted softball field, a modified field for youth, a Little League field, two basketball courts and four tennis courts. The complex is open to the public May through November, weather permitting. Seasonal night lighting is provided.”
    Little Falls City School District Business Manager Clete McLaughlin said during a telephone interview Friday the district was approached by a group of parents hoping to bring night football games back to the park next year.
    “That’s what kind of generated all this,” he said.
    McLaughlin said their insurance representatives from Utica National during a recent visit found the bleachers “were a serious concern, safety-wise. That got our attention.”
    McLaughlin said they hoped to have an engineer look at the wooden poles used for lighting sometime next week. McLaughlin said the poles have some splitting, which is also becoming a concern.
    Little Falls varsity field hockey coach Monica Tooley said the problem with the bleachers “threw a wrench” into their seniors’ farewell game earlier this month. She said while the game was eventually postponed due to weather, they had been scrambling to figure a way to have seating for the game when they learned they could no longer use the bleachers there.
    Page 2 of 2 - “It was out of the norm. It was out of the routine for a game … a momentous game,” she said.
    Tooley said the game was moved from Wednesday to Saturday, and that some attendees were able to bring their own chairs to the match.
    “We love the field,” said Tooley. “The field hockey teams like being there and having the opportunity to play at night. We hope not to lose that because of the seating.”
    Mike Liscio, a top league official with Little Falls Pop Warner Football, said the bleachers will be taken down within the next two weeks. Then, they will have to decide what to do to install new seating.
    Liscio said the Pop Warner teams — which have 120 children in the football program and about 55 children in the cheerleading program — are finished for the season.
    “We have some time, but baseball is coming around the corner, then the DiamondDawgs right after that. Hopefully, we’ll have it up and running quickly. We need to have these things for the community,” he said.
    Liscio said with the work that needs to be done at the field, now is the time to “come up with a plan for the facility to bring it back to its glory days.”
    Peters said it will take the cooperation of the city, the school and Pop Warner to get the improvements done at the park. Liscio also said it will take the efforts of the community.
    “[Pop Warner] is definitely committed to being part of the solution … We’re heavily involved with getting the problems fixed,” said Liscio.
    He added, “This whole Vets field project is for the betterment of all the youth of Little Falls and all the sports. It’s not just about football.”
    Liscio said the field used to be in good enough condition for the baseball state championships.
    “There’s a lot of history involved with the field, so we can’t let that go,” he said.
    Liscio emphasized this project would benefit the whole community.
    “The community was so supportive of the Benton Hall project [when it went through renovations in the 1990s],” he said. “... The community had to put a lot of money into it, and now it’s one of our biggest assets. We have to take the same approach with Vets park. It’ll be a better community if it’s open and running for our kids.”
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