CHESHIRE — Jim Gidicsin, vice president of the Cheshire Reds youth travel baseball program, recalls feeling encouraged after a meeting two years ago when newly-hired Parks and Recreation Director John Gawlak brought together representatives from youth and adult organizations to talk about fields and facilities.
“(Gawlak) made a master schedule for groups to use the facilities and came up with a list of renovations that he wanted to make in the future,” said Gidicsin.
Recently, Gidicsin enjoyed seeing the local baseball community receive a boost to start the spring season. At the end of March Championship Turf Services, a company based in Harwinton, started work on improving the four diamonds at MacNamara Legion Field, located at 550 Wiese Road.
“It is amazing to have this work done,” said Gidicsin. “In the 15 years that I’ve been associated with Cheshire baseball, we haven’t have the kind of relationship that we have now with the town.”
Town Manager Sean Kimball said the Town Council appropriated funds for Parks and Recreation projects a few years ago. The work started at Bartlem Park and Mixville Park and has now moved to other locations.
“It is great,” said Kimball. “MacNamara has a long history of volunteerism, with coaches and parents helping to take care of the fields. Before this project, it had been a while since the town had been able to do a large upgrade.”
Championship Turf Services edged and cut grass lines on the diamonds. The company also put in new sod.
“I’m amazed at the job they did,” stated Gidicsin. “There are no longer standing puddles that will take days to dry.”
The town also purchased a new fence that baseball volunteers installed at MacNamara field 4 last month.
“The fence is temporary at the field,” said Gidicsin. “It will be taken down at the end of the season...”
Cheshire Youth Baseball and Cheshire Youth Softball use the MacNamara field along with the Reds.
The Reds have five of their six teams playing at MacNamara this year. The 13-U squad is using Bartlem Park.
When Gidicsin spoke with Kimball and Gawlak last Friday, he raised the possibility of improving conditions at Bartlem as well.
“During our meeting, John and Sean were actually looking to see if there is money left to do more work, but with the capital budget being finalized right now, it will probably need to wait,” Gidicsin said. “We will keep communicating on projects. The coaches routinely volunteer to do regular field maintenance during the year, but we’d like the big work to be done before the season starts.”
Because of the pandemic, CYB/CYS canceled their traditional spring season last year, but with an improved health situation, teams returned to action over the weekend.
The Reds have started the 2021 season with precautionary measures still in place.
“You don’t have to wear masks on the field, but you need to have them on the bench,” said Gidicsin. “We have marked out 6-feet spaces for people to sit down and there are also hand dispensers...”
Gidicsin said that the Reds have approximately 66 players this year. In most years, squads play between 30 to 40 games.