All Jody Nazarchyk wants to do is fulfill Gene Sutera’s dream.
On November 27th, the Recreation and Parks Commission approved a request by Nazarchyk, serving in her role as president of the Waterford Junior and Senior Softball League, to add $50,000 in the town’s 2014-15 capital budget and $25,000 in the town’s 2015-16 capital budget to install Musco lighting at the softball field in Lisa Dedrick Memorial Park.
Nazarchyk is actually pushing for that money to be moved up and approved for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 fiscal years, so lights could be installed as early as the fall of 2013. The overall cost of the project is expected to be around $100,000, according to Nazarchyk.
“I really think this is the time to do it,” she said. “It is such a beautiful field and lights would only enhance it.”
The plan still needs to be approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Board of Selectmen before it can go any further. First Selectman Dan Steward said he had not yet seen the plan and wasn’t prepared to comment, but said the group would have to fundraise a good amount of money to get approval.
“If they come forward with a plan that says the town is going to have to fund it completely, I can say that’s not going to happen,” Steward said.
Nazarchyk said she was planning on starting to fundraise for the project and was hoping to get some events put together soon. Additionally, she said there is a group of dedicated parents, including tradesmen, who are willing to volunteer their labor to help defray the cost of installing the lights.
Right now, the softball field in Lisa Dedrick Memorial Park is used by the high school’s junior varsity softball team and Waterford’s junior softball league, which serves teenage girls up to 15. The problem is scheduling is tight and there is no time for the senior league, which now has to play its games in Windham County, Nazarchyk said. Because of that, fewer and fewer girls are joining the senior league, which serves girls 16 to 18, she said.
The other problem is the Waterford softball teams routinely go far into all-star tournaments and are always on the road. The reason is the host team must hold two games in a night, and without lights that isn’t possible, Nazarchyk said. The most frustrating part is Lisa Dedrick Memorial Park is far nicer than the other fields the girls travel to, yet they cannot host any of these tournaments because there are no lights, she said.
Also, there used to be an adult softball league for women, but no longer because there is limited space on the fields, Nazarchyk said. By having lights, there could hopefully be enough time, she said.
“We have a beautiful field,” Nazarchyk said. “I just wish we could use it more.”
Lisa Dedrick Memorial Park is owned by the town, yet volunteers have done a considerable amount of work on the park at no cost to the town. The park is named after Lisa Dedrick, the daughter of Mary Ann Clark, and Clark and her husband Stu along with a slew of friends have installed dugouts, an electric scoreboard, bathrooms and more at the field at no cost to the town.
One of the most dedicated volunteers was Gene Sutera, who volunteered in many of those projects along with being involved in the softball leagues. Sutera died in 2003 of a heart attack while he was bringing a grill to Lisa Dedrick Memorial Park. After he died, a playscape at the park was named after him.
His dream was always to have lights at the field, Nazarchyk said. This is would be the final step in completing the field, and fulfill his dream, she said.
Four light posts would be needed for the Musco lighting, Nazarchyk said. The lights are LEDs, which use less energy, and are engineered so there is very little light pollution to surrounding homes, she said.
Recreation and Parks Director Brian Flaherty said he supports the project but is cognitive of the town’s fiscal situation. He said the commission recommended the project be funded over two years, in 2014-15 and 2015-16, although Nazarchyk is pushing for it to be in the budget this upcoming year.
Nazarchyk said she is pushing for Musco lights instead of a cheaper alternative because they are LED lights, which are much more efficient, give off less light pollution than standard lights and illuminate the field far better than standard lights. Waterford High School’s fields and Spera Field both have Musco lights.
Flaherty said if the field does have lights, it could be rented out more and potentially bring in income to the town. Nazarchyk said people coming to Waterford for those events would mean more money for businesses in the area and a chance to show more people how great the town really is.
“I’m really proud of Waterford and I would really like to show it off,” Nazarchyk said. “We have a beautiful town.”