After spearheading the push to secure Manatee County funding for a new concession building for Manatee East Little League at Lakewood Ranch Park, League Board Member Allen Steinfeld still faced a $30,000 shortfall.
That's when he approached Neal Communities' Pat Neal and asked him to take a tour of the current concession area. And after Neal saw the mud-filled accommodations and dilapidated trailer, he pledged the money needed to get the new building started.
“We’re longtime residents and raised our own kids here,” Neal said. “Providing facilities that encourage kids to get involved in sports is paramount to a community’s success – kids who are involved in sports are more likely to be achievers in school and other aspects of their lives. It was just the right thing to do."
Steinfeld said Neal's final $30,000 completes a dream for the league and the community.
“The combined efforts of the board members, Manatee County, small business owners and parents of the little leaguers demonstrate how a community can come together to make an important project for kids and their families a reality,” he said.
The new Manatee East Little League Concession Building will include restrooms, storage space and ample space for concession sales, of which a percentage goes back to the Manatee East Little League. Staffed by Manatee East Little League Board and family members, the facility not only will benefit the players, which total between 200-400 kids depending on the season, but also their families and other visitors who use the park.
Total cost for the new building is estimated at $150,000, with $100,000 committed from Manatee County thanks to the support from County Commissioner Donna Hayes and Manatee County Parks and Recreation. In addition, another $20,000 was raised through fundraising programs, East County families, board members and other individual and corporate contributions.
“The new concession building project is another important example of how public and private enterprises can effectively work together to come up with a solution for a much-needed facility,” Hayes said. “Kids, baseball and supporting youth and other important sports programs are vital to our community, both from an economic as well as quality-of-life issue."
Construction, to be performed by J.K. Fowler General Contractor Inc., is planned to commence within the week. Michael Otis, from CPA Construction Inc., was instrumental in organizing the process with the building contract and Manatee County. Scheduled completion is by the end of January 2010, in time for the opening of the 2010 Spring Season, which begins mid-February.
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Merchants on Lakewood Ranch Main Street continue to mourn the surprising loss of fellow business owner Rebekah Hatmaker, co-owner of Serendipity Boutique.