BROADALBIN — The vision of young athletes hitting the fields at Broadalbin Town Park took full form this month after a years-long community effort to get the park built.
“It’s been a long time coming, there have been a lot of battles to get it where it could be open,” said Keith Buchanan, Broadalbin Youth Commission fundraiser coordinator, on Thursday.
The effort by the Broadalbin Youth Commission to construct a park with playing fields capable of serving the hundreds of local kids who participate in seasonal youth sports began over a decade ago. The park on Union Mills Road officially opened to the public last weekend as members of the spring youth soccer league took to the fields for the first time.
“To see the kids play is remarkable. It’s very refreshing we’re getting back to normal and kids are enjoying themselves,” said Bill Suchy, Broadalbin-Perth Lions Club president, of the opening weekend. “I don’t think I saw a frown in the bunch.”
“We’ve had nothing but positive comments,” said Buchanan. “I feel elated.”
The newly constructed park features two full-sized soccer fields, three baseball and softball fields, a basketball court, a pavilion with a concession stand, a picnic area and public restrooms. An intermediate baseball field with a practice football field is still under construction.
Before the park’s construction, Suchy said, sports leagues organized by the Broadalbin Youth Commission played at Perth Bible Church’s fields.
“We knew that we needed one site for not just the Youth Commission, but also for the taxpayers so people in the community could have a place to go,” Buchanan said.
Efforts to secure land for the park by the volunteer members of the Youth Commission in partnership with the town were already underway before Buchanan got involved about 15 years ago.
Eventually, 20 acres of land along Route 29 was purchased for the park, but the presence of wetlands on the property posed a huge financial burden for advancing the project. The setback was overcome when Stewart’s Shops bought the property for an expansion project.
The funds from the land sale allowed the town to purchase a 24-acre property on Union Mills Road neighboring the Town Barn and the Youth Commission continued planning and fundraising for the project.
The Youth Commission has been fundraising to cover the cost of constructing the park for years through annual events, including the Fulton-Montgomery County Home Show and Craft Fair, Junk-in-the-Trunk Flea Market, Broadalbin Youth Commission Golf Tournament and chicken barbecue dinners.
“It was always the commitment of the Youth Commission to pay for the park,” Buchanan said.
Construction of the $1.1 million park finally got underway three years ago with a $500,000 grant award from the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and a $200,000 contribution from the Youth Commission. The town borrowed the remaining balance for the project and the Youth Commission is working toward repaying the debt.
The park has also benefited from local contributions and donations from private individuals and organizations. Adirondack Mechanical Corporation donated labor and materials for the installation of an irrigation system and Lowe’s donated and constructed a storage shed at the site.
While initial construction is now complete and the park has opened, additional improvements are planned. Future fundraising efforts by the Youth Commission will be aimed at the installation of a walking path, sand volleyball court, expanded picnic area, lighting for the fields and paving.
Additionally, although the pavilion and concession stand is up and operational, it is not yet complete. The Broadalbin-Perth Lions Club over the past decade has been fundraising to assist with that project. The restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic slowed those efforts over the past year as in-person events were hampered.
However, the Lions have finally reached their $20,000 goal and the check presented to the Youth Commission this weekend will cover the cost of finishing touches for the pavilion and concession stand.
The Lions have operated concessions for the Youth Commission for several years, Suchy said. Contributing to the pavilion and concession stand at the new park seemed like the perfect fundraising project for the volunteer organization to undertake in addition to its annual charitable efforts, he said.
“We felt it was a worthwhile activity to benefit the community, that’s why we stepped in and are assisting as much as we can,” Suchy said. “We feel great about it. We look forward to continuing to do more with the Youth Commission, whether it’s a large program like this or on the smaller scale.”
While volunteers will continue working to bring further improvements to the park, both Buchanan and Suchy gushed about the efforts of the community over many years that culminated in the opening of the park.
“It looks gorgeous,” Buchanan said. “We have probably one of the best parks in Fulton and Montgomery counties.”
“I hope we’re setting an example for other people to get involved,” Suchy added.