Rec Center investigating installation of handicapped accessible baseball/softball field | News | The Press and Standard

by | March 31, 2017 5:00 am

Last Updated: March 29, 2017 at 10:16 am

By GEORGE SALSBERRY
gsalsberry@lowcountry.com
Colleton County Recreation Director Chris Myers and Colleton County Capital Projects and Purchasing Director John T. Stieglitz III have started the preliminary work that could lead to the construction of a handicapped accessible baseball and softball field at the ACE Basin Sports Complex — and they are looking for those who share that vision.
Former Recreation Department employee Courtney Stevenson laid the groundwork for the possibility. Stevenson, while serving as the recreation center’s concession coordinator, brought the idea to Myers’ attention.
A foster parent, Stevenson learned about miracle fields and the forming of miracle leagues and researched the subject — work that included getting the facts and figures together that showed the need in Colleton County.
Her research found that the county school district had 990 students who had some kind of disability. She reasoned that the county would have at least that many disabled adults who could also benefit from the construction of a handicapped accessible ball field.
When Stevenson left her county post and relocated to Florida, she left her vision of a handicapped accessible ball field in Myers’ capable hands.
Myers found that it fit perfectly with what county officials envisioned for the county’s recreation center.
“We want to be more inclusive in our activities,” Myers said. “There is a group of people we are not able to hit with our traditional sports. We see this as a way to bring more people into being active.” The miracle field could be used by both children and adults.
Myers discussed the possibility of establishing the special field with Stieglitz, and he joined the effort.
Then during a meeting, County Administrator Kevin Griffin asked Myers if he had a major project, “a wish list item,” he was considering for the recreation department.
He told Griffin about the miracle field. Griffin liked what he heard and gave Myers and Stieglitz the green light to being searching for ways to fund the plan.
Myers said he contacted communities that had built their own miracle fields and learned that their funding came from a combination of public funds, grants and donations.
Myers said he is in the process of “seeing what is out there” in terms of governmental funding. The field would be eligible for a PARD (Parks and Recreation Development) Grant from the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, but that grant alone would not be enough to fund the whole thing.
The entire project, Myers estimates, for a bare-bones miracle field would cost about $450,000 — $500,000 would be “the magic number.”
Much of the money would go to site preparation and the paving of the field. “It is all paved, even foul territory, everything inside the fence,” Myers said. That makes the entire field handicapped accessible.
A miracle field has a base layer of asphalt that is topped by a synthetic rubber surface.
That additional $50,000 would play a role in where the miracle field was located within the ACE Basin Sports Complex.
A bare-bones field would have to be located near existing restrooms and concession stands, existing parking areas.
The magic number, he said, would allow the miracle field to have its own concessions and restroom facilities.
That, in turn, would give the recreation department more leeway in where the field could be located.
Myers would like to see it constructed on a portion of ACE Basin Sports Complex property on Tuskegee Airman Drive, across from the Colleton County Middle School.
That location, Myers said, would enable the middle school and possibly the high school to use the field for its handicapped students physical education classes, as well as allow it to be used as part of the annual Special Olympics held each spring at the middle school.
“We would only use it for miracle league, not traditional baseball or softball,” Myers said. He point out the outfield fence would only be about 100-120 feet from home plate.
The only other thing it might be used for would be t-ball, he said.
Myers said the planning is still in the early stages. “We are still kicking around the idea and getting the word out that we are looking to do this.”
Getting the word out, Myers explained, will hopefully lead to others who share the vision to join the effort. “We encourage anyone who has an interest to contact me or John.
“We will be moving slowly until we can get traction,” Myers said.

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