0

Newton County Miracle League field nears completion

Construction at the Miracle League field at City Pond Park in Covington nears completion as crews work to finish the concession stand roof. Miracle League consultant Tamera Richardson said opening day could be set for early June. (Special photo)

Construction at the Miracle League field at City Pond Park in Covington nears completion as crews work to finish the concession stand roof. Miracle League consultant Tamera Richardson said opening day could be set for early June. (Special photo)

COVINGTON – A ball field for special needs children in Newton County is closer to reality as construction for the Miracle League field at City Pond Park nears completion.

Miracle League consultant Tamara Richardson said opening day is anticipated for the early summer, and she hopes by June to have players on the field.

“We plan to begin an abbreviated baseball season in June with possible evening games,” Richardson said. “Since many of the players and adults can’t be in the heat for long periods of time, we hope to have a few night games. Then we’ll start a full season of about eight to 12 weeks in the fall.”

Despite the rain, snow and use of free labor, the concession stand roof, doors and locks are nearly finished.

The Miracle League project began in 2009 with a budget of $2.5 million. Newton County Recreation Commission, Covington Rotary Club, Covington Kiwanis Club, the Covington & Oxford Lions’ Clubs and The Friends of Newton Parks joined together to see the project come to fruition through fundraising, collecting donations and receiving grants.

Richardson said the groups reduced the budget to about $2 million after cutting out some project plans and partnering with the Georgia Department of Corrections to use inmate labor. A majority of the funding, about $1.7 million, is funded through Newton County SPLOST funds.

The complex will include a custom-designed field with a cushioned rubberized surface to help prevent injuries, wheelchair accessible dugouts, and a completely flat surface to eliminate any barriers to wheelchair-bound or visually impaired players. Accessible restrooms, a concession stand and picnic pavilion were also part of the project.

With the roof set to be completed this week, Richardson said the next step is laying floor and ceiling tile, pouring asphalt and installing the artificial turf.

“It will most likely be the first of May before we see surfacing and details such as dugouts and landscaping,” Richardson said. “The weather and inmate labor have slowed the project down somewhat, but we’re almost there.”

After working on the project for about four years, Richardson said the Recreation Commission staff is “biting at the bit” to see the first ball thrown on the Miracle League field.

“This has been such a complicated project involving so many entities that it’s almost a miracle to have it come together,” Richardson said. “The support has reached communitywide. I’ve lived here for 25 years and this is the first time since I’ve been here that I’ve seen such a widely embraced project. The residents have really wrapped their arms around it to see it happen.”

Once the first season is in the books, Richardson said she hopes to see the Recreation Commission add more therapeutic sports.