A long-term plan to create a baseball/softball facility at Crossroads Park is starting to gain momentum.
The board of directors for Hotchkiss Home Plate, a program providing baseball and softball opportunities for North Fork area youth, is focusing on making the facility a reality, said board president Terry Pagone. "We're a new board and we're learning a lot of new things, and we're starting to move in the right direction."
This spring they began ramping up fundraising efforts in anticipation of applying for grants this fall. Because of the high cost, estimated about 10 years ago at $2 million, "We're going to try to do it in stages."
The North Fork Pool, Parks & Recreation District oversees Crossroads Park, located adjacent to Hotchkiss High School. The facility currently includes the North Fork Pool, the soccer field, the office of the newly formed nonprofit, The Nature Connection, and a picnic area. "We fully support them," said district administrator Lenore Cambria. A baseball facility was written into the district's master plan, and two areas of the Crossroads facility are set aside for ball fields. Some matching funds have also been set aside, and plans are in the works for a playground area.
According to a letter written by the HHP board of directors, the first phase of the master plan includes four new youth fields, concessions, storage and batting cages. The group is seeking public support and plans to apply for a Colorado Lottery Great Outdoors Colorado grant in November.
Home Plate teams currently use the fields located at the Delta County Fairgrounds, affectionately known as the "Dust Bowl." The fairgrounds board of directors is focusing on its master plan to expand the fairground facility, which calls for moving the existing ball fields to Crossroads Park and converting the ball fields to a campground.
Pagone said the board is reaching out to the community for financial and in-kind assistance. They currently have $30,000 of the required 10 percent of matching funds needed to apply for the grant. They are seeking help with dirt work, batting cages, fuel, building materials, irrigation work, bleachers, dugouts, landscaping and fencing, all of which can go toward the grant application's required in-kind donations.
They're also seeking letters of support from the community to submit with grant applications. Letters can be sent to Hotchkiss Home Plate, P.O. Box 44, Hotchkiss, CO 81419.
The summer baseball and softball programs are now in full swing. Baseball teams are playing through the Montrose Recreation District, and the girls' softball program is competing through Bill Heddles Recreation Center. T-ball and coach-pitch leagues, which include kids ages 4-8, are playing other Delta County area teams. "It's a big family," said Pagone.
The program is also in need of funding and sponsors. Baseball players are hoping to return in July to Telluride to compete in the Wooden Bat Classic tournament. The cost just to get them there is about $2,500, said Pagone. The kids have been holding bake and ice cream sales, and a GoFundMe account is in the works.
The board is seeking other funding sources, including Baseball Tomorrow Fund, a partnership between Major League Baseball and Major League Baseball Players Association. The organization offers funding opportunities for fields, uniforms, equipment and coaches training.
Last year Terry and Michelle Pagone purchased a dunk tank, which they plan to set up at the Delta County Fair. "Every little bit counts," said Pagone. For more information, call Pagone at 970-361-2232.