CLINTON — If you’ve ever been running and stepped in a hole, turning your ankle, resulting in a sprain or worse, it’s easy to understand why repairs at the Kiwanis-owned Paul J. Weimer soccer field on Beatty Avenue are so important to AYSO (American Youth Soccer Organization) representatives and Kiwanis members.
“The soccer field is full of divots and holes, which if the kids tried to play on today would surely injure themselves,” said Paul Frey, treasurer of the Kiwanis Club of Clinton.
Frey has spearheaded the effort to fix the field since November of 2018, along with AYSO Regional Commissioner, Henry Schweitzer, who is passionate about giving the kids a decent field to play on.
“The Kiwanis Paul J. Weimer Park has been around for a number of decades,” Schweitzer said. “The soccer field especially has really never been given any updates. The last 15-20 years, that soccer field has looked exactly how it looks today. We really just want to improve the field conditions and add to what is currently there. We want to make that park stand out and update the soccer area by adding a fence around the field, spectator seating, and more parking for all, that is what we hope to accomplish.”
Schweitzer said having a nice field for the kids to play on benefits not only them, but the community for years to come.
“We want these youth soccer players to come to a field and be proud to play here. Right now, that field is run down and needs a lot of TLC. With these improvements, these two fields will be here and in great condition for the next 15-20 years. As Regional Commissioner, I always told myself we need to make a change so this program can continue to succeed. Clinton AYSO continues to develop and deliver quality youth soccer programs which promote a fun, safe, family environment, where children can grow and develop not only their soccer skills but their leadership and social skills for life. Without change, things get run down and outdated. The more we improve this park, the better it is for the organization and the entire community. In the end, it comes down to having a nice park for youth soccer players to be outside enjoying this sport. We owe it to the kids to improve what we currently have and make it last another 15-20 years.”
Frey said since he’s been working on the preliminary logistics he’s run into a couple of obstacles.
“It’s complicated because half the field is in the Town of Kirkland and the other half is in the Village of Clinton,” Frey said.
Frey also said he was able to acquire property deeds from Oneida County to show the property belongs to Kiwanis, and he obtained aerial maps to show the property boundary lines, in order to establish where they could build new sheds, storage facilities and make other improvements, reiterating some of Schweitzer’s points.
“We want to fix all the holes in the field and level it yes, but there’s more,” Frey said. “We want to redesign the one large field into two playing fields, one for boys and one for girls. We also want bleachers for the parents and fans. Additionally, we’d like to install a chain-link fence along the outside of the playing area to keep the soccer balls from rolling into the road and perhaps into the creek that runs parallel with the field. We’d like to improve the parking lot from the dirt and gravel stone it is now, to a blacktop lot with marked space lines. I figure to do what we want to do is going to take about $20,000.”
Frey admits there are details that still need to be worked out, but a couple of area contractors have already said they’d be willing to help with the project.
“Nelson Associates said they would do the architechtual planning free of charge,” Frey said. “Also, Billy Owens Plumbing said they would install a water fountain free of charge. The water fountain, for those who can’t afford to buy water, would be donated by a source requesting to remain anonymous. Also, Peck Excavating said they are onboard to begin work on the field as soon as the funds are available.”
In a meeting of the Kiwanis Club and AYSO at Michael T’s Restaurant on Seneca Turnpike in New Hartford on Tuesday, March 19, financial planner Garret S. Wyckoff laid out a plan to apply for a $10,000 micro-grant from The Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties.
According to Wycoff, if the grant is approved, he suspects construction will be able to begin sometime this summer, with project completion coming in the early fall. However, the grant money is only half of what Frey said they needed to cover the expense for what the Kiwanis and AYSO organizations said is necessary.
The rest of the money he hopes will come from charitable donations from the community.
Like Schweitzer, Frey said Kiwanis just wants to make the field safe, and give the kids, and parents, a place to play that will make them proud.
“We at Kiwanis believe in the our motto, “Changing tomorrows one child and one community at a time,” Frey said.