Lancaster will be home to a 16,200-square-foot indoor baseball training facility that could be up and running by the end of the year, with a price tag not to exceed $1.7 million.
In a series of actions tied to the Lancaster Depew Baseball League project, the Town Board gave the green light Monday that essentially moves the project off the drawing boards. It will be built in the eastern section of Lancaster in the town’s Westwood Park.
“It’s surreal to me. I can’t believe it’s actually happened,” said Larry Komendat, a league official who has actively worked on the project. “We’ve talked about this amongst the league board for four to five years.”
Town officials unanimously voted on formally partnering with the baseball league for the construction and operation of the preseason practice facility that will be year-round, and also approved the town’s plans to finance the $1.7 million maximum cost through borrowing to get it built.
“This is the stamp of approval that we needed in order to move forward,” Komendat said, noting the league’s board of directors will vote Wednesday on the project.
The facility will be owned by the town, but operated and ultimately paid for by the baseball league, with a 15-year payback period. The league’s annual repayment to the town is expected to be just shy of $125,000, if the project comes in at $1.5 million. The actual footprint will be 14,200 square feet, but totals a little more than 16,000 square feet when a mezzanine for parent viewing and waiting during practices, is factored in.
Town leaders also approved a state-required review of the project, noting that it would not result in any adverse environmental impact on the area.
Resident Lee Chowaniec, who said he supports the project, still had unanswered questions and sought assurances that Lancaster residents would have use of the facility and questioned membership fees.
“This is my town and my park, and I want to make sure town residents can use it,” Chowaniec said. “I know how important baseball is to kids.”
League officials said that players in their league do not have to be Lancaster-Depew residents, but that many are. A $150 membership fee will be assessed to be able to use the practice facility, but league officials said that is much less than the $300 to $400 that many players and teams pay for annual memberships at facilities outside of Lancaster for fewer hours and less features than the Lancaster site will offer.
Supervisor Dino Fudoli lauded the project backers and board for its work on the facility, which has been in the works since January 2012. It will be built on the south side of the park, set in from the Pavement Road entrance, southwest of the pond.
League officials hope groundbreaking can begin July 1, with possible opening over the Christmas holiday.
The league, with 870 registered players including 65 house teams and 15 travel teams, serves mostly boys and some girls ages 4 through 18. Bid requests will go out on the project in two weeks, with the league looking to kick off its capital campaign for fundraising on the facility within a month.
The Town Board also approved sponsorship agreements with Russell J. Salvatore, Basil Chevrolet, Brown Chiari law firm and Intense Milk to help support the facility’s construction. To date, the league said it has raised $110,000 for the project.