AMESBURY — Town Park could soon be a hub for youth sports if the city’s new athletic fields plan takes effect.
The city will soon break ground on the $60.5 million Sgt. Jordan Shay Memorial Lower Elementary School next to Cashman Elementary School, taking the two baseball diamonds that the Amesbury Little League calls home with it.
Former Mayor Ken Gray had made plans to move the diamonds to the city-owned Woodsom Farm next to Cashman, where seven soccer fields would also be built.
The city bonded $1.5 million for the athletic fields project and planned to use $300,000 from the school building project and $1 million from a district improvement financing plan with The Heights Amesbury apartment complex to make it happen.
An athletic fields master plan was released in 2019 but the plan would prove to unfeasible, according to Caitlin Thayer, the city’s communications director.
“The original concept was simply unobtainable because of the budget,” she said. “The whole plan was roughly $10 million and we just don’t have that money.”
Thayer said Mayor Kassandra Gove has spent the past year and a half conducting feasibility studies and looking at potential locations for athletic fields in the city.
“We need to find out where we replace the baseball fields,” Thayer said. “Little League finished up their season recently and, as of right now, they don’t have fields for next year. So that has become our main priority.”
The mayor had looked at seven potential spots for the baseball diamonds, including Woodsom Farm, but Town Park has proven to be the best location for the baseball diamonds.
“We will be turning the Town Park basically into the hub of diamonds,” Thayer said. “Right now, there are three diamonds at Town Park. One big, two small. So we will be adding an additional diamond.”
Little League President Leigh Noyes said his organization was looking at three or four potential new homes but the Town Park plan will work just fine.
“The ground is flat and most of the area is already being used for baseball anyways,” Noyes said. “It was exciting when the mayor brought it up.”
Thayer said the administration plans to make improvements to the athletic field at the high school where the varsity baseball team plays.
“We heard from the master fields plan that the varsity field is underutilized and it also has some structural issues,” Thayer said. “So we are going to fix the structure issues and add some more teams there to make it not as underutilized.”
She said the plan is to have enough baseball diamonds ready by the time Little League and varsity baseball start up again next spring.
“We want to make sure that all of those teams are set for the next season,” Thayer said. “Then, we want to make sure that we build another large diamond on the backfield of the high school for the 2023 season.”
The athletic fields at Cashman also included a concession booth that are expected to be recreated at Town Park, according to Thayer.
“There are already bathrooms that are in existence at Town Park and we are going to add more,” she said.
Amesbury Little League has seen a resurgence in popularity as of late.
The Amesbury Williamsport team – 11- and 12-year-olds – made it to the final four in the North Shore district and the league recently fielded 270 boys and girls ages 5 to 12.
“No spot will have a perfect situation but we will make it work,” Noyes said. “We travel around to a lot of different towns and everybody else has things they have to work around, too. Nobody has a perfect situation.”
Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.