Georgetown Slopitch League threw out the first pitch for a new ball diamond at the budget-starved Trafalgar Rd. Sports Park with the announcement that it will give $100,000 to the Town of Halton Hills. Tim Abbott, president of the adult recreational league, gave the good news to the Town's budget committee (all members of council) at its public night Monday. The league had levied a $100 capital surcharge on each of its 70-odd teams per year for the past seven years to raise the money for the contribution. Abbott said the group has about $86,000 in the bank and should have the remainder by the time the diamond opens for service in 2008. "We'll have the money when you're ready to spend it," he assured budget committee. Abbott said his group has been pressing for new diamonds for a long time. His league has more than 1,000 members who play four nights a week on local diamonds, and the demand for more and better diamonds is high. At first, the group looked at renovating existing diamonds, but the cost proved to be too high. Trafalgar Sports Park, located on the corner of Trafalgar Rd. and 17 Sideroad, has been on the drawing board since 1999. Since then Town has funded only $800,000 of the $10 million 10-phase project. The Park's master plan calls for 14 soccer fields (six with lighting), four ball diamonds (with lighting), picnic shelter, concession, washrooms, play area and cemetery.
To date, only four unlit soccer fields have been completed. Last year Phase 3B was removed from the 2006 budget, after the Georgetown Soccer Club rescinded its previous contribution offer ($75,000 plus $60,000 over three years). The club instead invested in the Acton Agriculture Society's multi-purpose facility, which will include indoor soccer. As a consequence, the Town bumped up the construction of the Acton Sports Park beside the arena after receiving a $100,000 contribution from the Acton Soccer Club. This year Phase 3B was once again included in the Recreation and Parks 2007 capital budget with a proviso of a $100,000 contribution from either the soccer club or the slopitch league. Funding will also come from development charges reserve fund ($311,000) and Cash-inlieu Parkland reserve ($104,000) for a total $515,000. Abbott said roughly $288,000 of the total would go to the building the unlit major diamond and the remainder to site works (parking lot etc). "Baseball diamonds are expensive, and that's without lights and irrigation," Abbott said. "If you had lights and irrigation, it would be up to nearly half a million dollars just to build a baseball diamond." Ironically, he said, it is unlikely Georgetown Slopitch League members will ever use the Sports Park diamond on a regular basis, since the teams play mainly at night, and require lit fields. "We're really doing this just to get another ball diamond in town," Abbott said. "And hopefully that will release some of the pressure on the other facilities as well." Based on the high cost of sports facilities, Abbott is approaching other organizations in town, such as Georgetown Baseball Association, Halton Hills Hawks Softball, and Georgetown Soccer Club, for contributions as well, and preliminary discussions are proving positive. "I'm just delighted in my short time of watching and participating to see someone come here with a cheque in their hands," said new Ward 3 Councillor Dave Kentner. "This is great, go and get some more."