The Bellbrook Lions Club, which runs the local youth baseball and softball leagues, wants to relocate the ball fields at the flood-prone Sackett-Wright Park on Ohio 725 to dozens of undeveloped acres at Berryhill Park in the Bellbrook Sugarcreek Parks District.
The Lions Club recently announced it is committing $110,000 and is asking others to contribute or otherwise be part of the project.
After joining the South Dayton Baseball and Softball Leagues, the Lions Club realized “more than ever that our facilities are inadequate,” according to John Dorn, Lion’s Club Children’s Athletic Committee chairman.
Dorn said the park sits in a 100-year flood plain and when the ball fields were originally built there, the park flooded once every few years. He said the park has flooded twice every year for the past three years, likely because of more runoff from housing and commercial developments upstream.
“It puts us behind every year,” Dorn said. “The facilities that our opponents have are comparatively better. We want to give the kids a chance to play on really nice fields.”
Berryhill Park, at the intersection of Waynesville and Centerville roads, is approximately 50 acres of undeveloped land. Ten acres are dedicated for the township to use for public safety, but the rest can be developed into a park.
The parks district bought the Berryhill Park property from the township in 2001 for $512,000, financed over a period of 10 years.
Jeff Stewart, parks district director, said they have discussed the idea with the Lions Club, adding that the park has been viewed as a “placeholder” to possibly be used in the future as a suitable athletic site.
“The flooding causes issues in the spring, especially when we get these flood events,” Stewart said. “There’s debris clean-up and sometimes there’s the loss of material from the fields.”
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Sugarcreek Twp. Administrator Barry Tiffany said the flooding is a safety issue for the township, as Ohio 725 is shut down each spring because of flooding.
Tiffany said as the Lions Club works with the parks district and agrees on a design, township trustees may be called on to consider the project for zoning approval.
Dorn said the plan would be executed in three phases to build eight ball fields along with parking lots. Dorn estimated that wouldn’t take up more than 20 acres of the land. The project would need grant funding and other contributions from the community.
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