KINDERHOOK — Northern Columbia Little League now has the go-ahead to refurbish and upgrade the softball field at Volunteers Park in Kinderhook. At its regular monthly meeting, the Town Board confirmed the league could start the $5,000 project immediately.
Although the Town of Kinderhook has nine baseball fields, the Volunteers Park softball field is the only place where the girls involved in Little League can play their softball games, said David Kolb, president of Northern Columbia Little League. The boys in Little League can play games on most of those fields. National Little League regulations require several differences in the specifications for the baseball and softball fields, including no pitcher’s mound for girls softball.
“Unlike the top notch boys baseball field in Rothermel Park, the girls softball field is not up to standards,” said Mr. Kolb.
Mr. Kolb said there are about 500 children who participate in the Northern Columbia Little League and a third of them — at least 150 — are girls.
The project is being funded through a $1,900 grant from the town, with the Little League funding the remaining $3,100. Mr. Kolb said the field should be in good shape by the beginning of this softball season, in late April.
Still to be determined by the board is the fate of the adult baseball field at Volunteers Park.
Coaches from another league — the Northern Columbia CHAOS Girls Softball League — petitioned the board to even the playing field for both boys and girls. The coaches asked the board to consider converting the little-used Volunteers Park adult baseball field to a girls softball field, considering the inequity in the number of fields for boys and girls.
“We just want the girls to have the same opportunity as the boys,” said CHAOS coach Jeff Walsh, after the Town Board meeting.
Mr. Walsh and his fellow CHAOS coach Mike Lacouture explained that to hold baseball and softball tournaments, two side-by-side fields are required. It’s possible for the boys baseball teams to play tournaments in Kinderhook, but not for girls softball, since there is only one field available.
Mr. Lacouture said that if the adult baseball field is converted, the CHAOS softball league could hold its three weekend tournaments in Kinderhook. In addition to being a great opportunity for the girls, the tournament would bring in families from about 10 other towns, who would stay in hotels and eat at local restaurants, he said.
“That would be a financial boost for the community,” said Mr. Lacouture.
Mr. Walsh and Mr. Lacouture said a new softball field would cost at least $12,000 for construction, where the conversion costs would be minimal.
The board agreed to meet with representatives from the softball leagues as well as other interested community members on Saturday, April 9 at 9 a.m. in Kinderhook Town Hall.
In other business, the board heard a presentation from Steve Kirk of DBS Planning, who is writing a grant for the Village of Valatie Local Development Corporation. Mr. Kirk explained the LDC’s plan to help fund the startup of two new business that would create between 20 and 25 jobs in the community. One business is a window restoration company, which would take over the former Kinderhook Toyota building on Route 9H. The other is a food manufacturer that would be located on five acres off Maple Lane.
In this instance, said Mr. Kirk, the town needs to secure Community Development Block Grants that would then be turned over to the Valatie LDC to administer the loans. The Town Board agreed to hold a public hearing on the matter. The date of the hearing has not been set, but it will likely take place on Monday, April 11, immediately before the next Town Board meeting.
Town Supervisor Pat Grattan mentioned the town is still accepting written applications for volunteer openings on the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Board of Assessment Review.