The little league baseball fields at Mead Park are getting a privately funded upgrade that advocates say will create a more attractive, stadium-like setting.
New Canaan Baseball will spend about $3,600 of its own money for top-of-the-line mesh windscreens that soon will drape the outfield fences at Mellick and Gamble Fields.
The Park & Recreation Commission unanimously approved the measure at its April 9 meeting, held in Lapham Community Center.
When a fellow commissioner asked if the height of the fences would be raised as a result of the project, Richard Kilbride said with a smile: “Only when the visiting team bats.”
In truth, the fences themselves will stay the same, said Brian Rogers, a New Canaan Baseball board member who presented the project.
“The fences, some of the areas are beat-up and unsightly,” he said. “So we wanted to improve the aesthetics of those fences by putting a windscreen from the foul pole to the foul pole on both of the baseball diamonds.”
The windscreen—a sample of which is pictured at left—is the most expensive version of the product, Rogers said (more than three times the cheapest option), and it’ll additionally help players focus because they won’t see others walking back and forth through the chain link fence as they do now.
Said commissioner Matt Konspore: “I’ve seen it as a done product and it looks very nice and clean. I think it would dress it up down there.”
Asked whether the league would post advertising on the screen, Rogers said no.
“It’s not permitted by the town,” he said. “We would at some point like to have a New Canaan Baseball sign up, but that’s another issue.”
To give the league time to purchase and install the windscreen prior to the season’s end—practices are underway now—the commission overrode its usual practice of waiting a month to decide on a newly introduced matter, and gave it the OK.
Recreation Director Steve Benko urged New Canaan Baseball to take the mesh back down after each season.
“What happens in the offseason, the ice will tear at it in the winter, maybe kids will cut it, so I think to get your money’s worth, take it down at the end of the summer season and put it back up next spring,” he said.
New Canaan Baseball/Softball Inc. is a 60-year-old nonprofit organization. According to documents filed late last year with the IRS and signed by the organization’s president, Mike O’Neill, its net assets come to about $211,000.