Seymour parks department ramps up projects


Time is ticking for the Seymour Parks and Recreation Department to complete three major projects using a $100,000 Impact grant from the Jackson County Visitor Center.

The city has until the end of the year to complete the two new baseball/softball fields at Freeman Field Recreational Complex, two pickleball courts at Gaiser Park and the third and final phase of the Schurman-Grubb Memorial Skatepark at Shields Park.

All three projects have been delayed since the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“It has been a struggle to get materials secured for projects and to get labor,” Parks Director Stacy Findley said.

Parks board member Matt Levine said he was concerned the department was trying to finish too many projects at once.

Currently, drainage work is underway at Freeman Field in order to add the two new baseball/softball diamonds.

“They are filling in culverts and installing piping now,” Findley said.

The diamonds are costing around $68,000, and the fields should be finished by the end of September. Hostetler Lawn and Landscaping of Middlebury is the contractor for the project.

Fencing and sidewalks likely won’t be added until spring of 2021.

“We’re just going to run out of time for anything extra,” Findley said.

The additional two diamonds will double the number of playing fields at Freeman Field to four and give the city a total of 14 diamonds at six parks to host tournaments.

“For a community this size, we are competitive in the amount of fields we have,” Findley said. “We host a lot of tournaments, and I’m really proud of that.”

With more fields, Seymour can host more ball tournaments, which adds up to increased revenue and sports tourism dollars in the community.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we add more diamonds in the next five years at Freeman,” Findley said. “But we will have to do more drainage work to support that. We have the capability to grow to meet whatever needs that we may have.”

With $100,000 in matching funds from a city bond, the parks department has a total of $200,000 for all three projects. Findley said the work adds up to around $239,000, so some additional city capital dollars will have to be used.

Construction on the two pickleball courts should begin this month and be complete by the end of October with fencing being added next spring. Findley said the parks department and Seymour Department of Public Works are building the pickleball courts in-house to keep the cost down.

Pickleball combines elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong. The paddle is smaller than a tennis racket and larger than a ping-pong paddle.

It is a huge sports trend, Findley said.

“We’re kind of behind the curve as far as having access to pickleball courts,” she said.

The two courts are estimated to cost $5,000 and are going to be constructed at Gaiser Park where the old playground equipment currently is located.

Findley said Gaiser was chosen because it has adequate access to restroom facilities, sidewalks and parking.

The final project is completing the Schurman-Grubb Memorial Skatepark. That piece is the most expensive at an estimated $100,000.

Original plans for Phase III call for the addition of new features, such as a three-quarter bowl, stair sets, handrails and a curved ledge.

The first phase, which laid the foundation for the park, opened in late 2013 and cost around $120,000, which was funded by the city and the Seymour Skatepark Association.

In 2015, the city completed the second phase, which included a quarter pipe, a volcano feature and additional square footage of concrete skating surface. It cost around $30,000, the bulk of which was funded through a grant from the Jackson County Visitor Center along with continued fundraising efforts by the skatepark association.

Besides skateboards, the park sees a lot of use by in-line skaters and those riding scooters and BMX bikes, making it an asset to the community.

Findley said construction on the skatepark should begin in September and be finished up by the end of November. During that time, the skatepark will be closed, Findley said.

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