Renovations to Klein Field at the Dean G. Skelos Sports Complex, including the creation of a softball field that meets NCAA specifications, will be completed by March 1, weather permitting, according to Rockville Centre Mayor Francis Murray.
The new field, funded by Molloy College, does not yet have a final price tag. But according to the contract between the village and Molloy, the cost will not exceed $1.6 million. The contract includes an option allowing the college to spend an extra $60,000 on machinery for field upkeep.
The agreement, dated Sept. 14, 2012, gives the college the NCAA-regulation softball field it wanted, and provides the village and the Rockville Centre School District with the cost-free use of the upgraded field.
According to Deputy Mayor Nancy Howard, Molloy will reserve the field for its use from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. each day from February through May and from September through November.
“When we were working the new agreement, the schools, the clubs and the village met and had come up with a working schedule that everyone could live with,” Howard explained. “It required some flexibility on everyone’s part, but it really accommodates everyone’s needs, just the same as the [other] fields.”
The new agreement maintains an arrangement between the village and Molloy that gives the college access to the complex’s North and South fields.
The construction of the new field will include the installation of artificial turf, a new backstop, new dugouts, a pitchers’ warmup area, batting cages, a press box and a scoreboard. There will also be a small practice field, outside the main field’s fences, mostly for younger players, Howard said.
“It gives our children a wonderful opportunity to play on an NCAA field, a state-of-the-art field,” Murray said. “We’re going to have so much time on the field for our children. It is far beyond what we could do with our taxpayer dollars.”
Howard explained that although Molloy’s softball program begins earlier than South Side High School’s and there will be overlap, the school district will be able to use the field for some of its games and practices.
The district’s athletic director, Carol Roseto, said she did not know Molloy’s softball schedule, but the high school softball schedule runs from the first week of March to the first week of May. “It really would have to be like what we do with [the North and South fields],” she said. “If Molloy is away, there’s a possibility we could jump in [that] slot. We could possibly work around their schedules. Any construction and improvement to the fields is a wonderful thing, and I think it would be an outstanding opportunity for our girls to play [on] a college softball field.”
Roseto said that, most days, the high school softball team would play and practice at the field at the school.
The agreement is a reflection of the communication and cooperation between the college administration and the village, Murray said. “They’re looking to be a good partner for our softball program,” he said of Molloy. “Their softball program wants to invite our girls down and practice with our girls, do a clinic.”
The village and Molloy had discussed renovating a number of fields, including those at Centennial Park, but the focus was narrowed to the Skelos Complex when testing showed that the soil at the other fields would not support artificial turf. At his State of the Village speech earlier this month, Murray said that other fields would still have work done, paid for by grants and gifts.
The village’s Hickey Field will have a new infield, part of its outfield will be replaced and the entrance and backstop will be improved. According to Murray, the bids for this project are currently out, and it is expected to be completed by June.
The mayor said he also expects Lister Park to be renovated, as well as the basketball courts at Centennial Park.