PROSPECT — A longtime recreation landmark in the hamlet of Prospect is undergoing a complete renovation that will improve its usability, access, and overall appearance, according to an announcement Thursday by the Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties.
The renovations of the Prospect Memorial Softball Field, totaling more than $500,000, are being funded through donations and charitable contributions to the foundation’s Prospect Softball Field Renovation Fund.
The contributions will cover facility upgrades that include a new playing field, lighting, fencing, dugouts, backstop, bleachers, scoreboard and more. The previous facility was torn down with the exception of one pavilion and the restrooms, which will each receive a new roof and siding matching the field structures.
In addition to these upgrades, the field is also being rotated from its original position to address batters’ having to look into the late afternoon sun.
“The project really got started when Todd and Terry Hart contacted me in December of 2019,” said Joe Smith, Trenton town supervisor and the project’s point person. “They wanted to see if there was any way they could help with upgrading the field and navigating the process required to plan, fund, and construct a state-of-the-art softball facility on this historic field.”
“They were well aware of the facility’s current condition and were disappointed when Prospect didn’t hold its annual Fast Pitch Tournament—the first time since 1946,” Smith said. “Obviously, their involvement was an unexpected but a very welcomed development. We always planned on doing minor renovations, but it would have taken us 10 years and we wouldn’t have gotten anywhere near where we are now. We hope to make the field a showcase that all can enjoy.”
The Harts and their younger brother, Dale, grew up in Prospect and, like most other kids in the village in the 1960s and 70s, spent much of their youth at the field.
“Our grandfather both played ball there, and he also coached the Prospect Little League baseball team in the early and mid ‘60s. The Prospect Volunteer Fire Department, that both our father and our grandfather were members of, was instrumental in much of the early construction of the field,” Terry Hart said.
“We didn’t just grow up playing at the field, it’s probably more accurate to say that we lived there—that’s where you spent the summer days, all day every day,” he added. “It brings back so many fond memories. We see this not only as a means of giving back to Prospect and the Town of Trenton, but also as a means of paying it forward.”
“Another key factor for initiating this endeavor was realizing the number of people that will benefit from this upgraded facility,” he said. “We’re hopeful others will have a similar perspective and be encouraged to help support this renovation.”
Though the brothers no longer live in the area, both still feel a strong connection, and they visit Central New York and the Adirondacks at least a couple of times a year.
“Over the past decades, there have been numerous Prospect residents who have generously volunteered their time towards the maintenance of the field. Being able to now play a role, help out, and ultimately see what the end result will be for the community, the town, and for Central New York, is very rewarding,” said Todd Hart, who was the summer playground director at the field in 1977. “It’s the efforts of people like Nick Grimmer at the Community Foundation, and especially Joe Smith, that will make this project a success. I have no doubt the end result will be a facility that the community will be very proud of.”
The Town of Trenton and the Harts urge those who would like to support this project to consider making a tax-deductible charitable contribution to The Prospect Softball Field Renovation Fund, foundationhoc.org/prospectfield.