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Orange gets $300,000 for park upgrade

  • The upgrades to Butterfield Park in Orange will include improving the ballfield, restoring the gransdtand and building a skating rink. Recorder/Paul Franz

    The upgrades to Butterfield Park in Orange will include improving the ballfield, restoring the gransdtand and building a skating rink. Recorder/Paul Franz

  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>The upgrades to Butterfield Park in Orange will include building a professional level ball field attracting leagues from outside the area for games and tournaments.

    Recorder/Paul Franz
    The upgrades to Butterfield Park in Orange will include building a professional level ball field attracting leagues from outside the area for games and tournaments.

  • The upgrades to Butterfield Park in Orange will include improving the ballfield, restoring the gransdtand and building a skating rink. Recorder/Paul Franz
  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>The upgrades to Butterfield Park in Orange will include building a professional level ball field attracting leagues from outside the area for games and tournaments.

ORANGE — You can almost hear the cheers coming from the new grandstand at Butterfield Park in reaction to $300,000 in improvements the state recently awarded.

Those improvements will include restoration of the grandstand itself, which dates back more than 50 years, as well as restoration of the existing ballfield and the bandstand.

“It’s exciting,” said Kevin Kennedy, a grant writer who came to work for the town seven months ago, wrote an application for the long-needed park renovation funds and — well, hit it out of the park. “I’m most excited for the community. It’s been a while since the town got an investment like this from the state.”

The town needs to come up with a 30 percent match for the state funds, or $128,570, including “in-kind” contributions. Kennedy expressed confidence the town would find the money and said construction would likely start next summer and run through 2015.

The parks and recreation grant, announced recently by state Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard Sullivan, will also provide for construction of two practice ballfields, expansion of the playground, expanding an existing basketball court that can be flooded to become an ice rink, and creation of two picnic areas and even a community tree nursery.

“The town has been talking about this ever since I’ve been here,” said Public Works Superintendent David Frye. That’s been 16 years.

The concrete grandstand, which includes a dugout, has been in disrepair, as has the ballfield and the bandstand, said Kennedy, who said the repairs are intended “to fix up what we have and give the park a fresh new look and feel.”

The baseball field, which is believed to have one of the last clay infields of its kind anywhere around, will be upgraded while maintaining that feature in the hopes of attracting a diverse group of vintage baseball and “40-and-older” leagues, said Kennedy.

The basketball court and ice rink would be built across East River Street from the park, near the town salt shed, where an area would also be set aside to grow saplings that could be planted around town to save the town money in nursery stock and also provide an opportunity for young people to learn how to care for them.

Plans for the 12-acre park also include adding grills and picnic tables to convert the park from a place where people come and go to one where people stay a while and enjoy themselves, to “develop more of a sense of community,” said Kennedy.

As one of its other new features, the park would also see the addition of a half-mile track around its perimeter for cyclists, runners and walkers. Plans also call for addition of a shed for the farmers market, “as a way to give it a presence” that goes beyond its transient weekly tents, he said.

You can reach Richie Davis at rdavis@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, Ext. 269

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