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Kiwanians take swing at new baseball field

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  • | 4:00 a.m. April 11, 2012
The current baseball field at the Bayfront Park Recreation Center is not regulation size. File photo.
The current baseball field at the Bayfront Park Recreation Center is not regulation size. File photo.
  • Longboat Key
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Could youth baseball and/or softball get another home run on the island? The Kiwanis Club of Longboat Key suggested a revival of the sports in a letter to the Longboat Key Town Commission written in advance of the 2 p.m. Wednesday, April 11 Goals & Objectives workshop.

Kiwanis Club President John Wild, who also serves as secretary of the Kiwanis Foundation of Longboat Key, cited a section of the Vision Plan listing “recreational facilities for children and grandchildren” among a list of amenities that could be added or enhanced in the future. He wrote that a “golden opportunity exists” to increase the dimensions of the baseball field at Bayfront Park Recreation Center making it a regulation-size field due to Sarasota County’s 2009 purchase of the former Albritton property, which added 3.88 acres to the park site.

Wild’s letter states that at a recent meeting, more than 30 members affirmed a pledge to work toward bringing expanded space for youth baseball or softball.

“ … We think that even a token effort by the town to recognize the presence of children on the island is appropriate,” Wild wrote. “The mere presence of school buses proves we even have resident children, now forced to join teams on Anna Maria Island. By expanding our current facility to include a regulation-sized field, we might find this making our facility more family-friendly … ”

Mark Richardson, Longboat Key facilities and recreation manager, said that at least three years have passed since a Little League team practiced on the Bayfront Park field.

He believes that making the pitch for baseball and/or softball could be tough. The current field is too large for softball, and expanding the field into a regulation-sized baseball field would require altering the entire site of the park. 

According to Richardson, who also serves as president of Manatee County Little League Baseball, the community center still has tee-ball and pitching machine baseball programs, however, all Manatee County Little League programs are based out of G.T. Bray Park, located in Bradenton.

Regardless of whether the idea of reviving Bayfront Park’s ball field is a hit with the commission, the park and its community center will be the basis for many groups’ goals and agenda. Three groups — the Longboat Key Public Interest Committee, Longboat Key Garden Club and Federation of Longboat Key Condominiums — have submitted goals and objectives for Wednesday’s meeting that endorse a proposed community center for the site.


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