Call fields questions

Southwick residents approved funding for Whalley Park earlier this year. (File photo by chief photographer Frederick Gore)

SOUTHWICK – Some questions remain among residents who have called The Westfield News asking who maintains the playing fields in town and if there are fees to use them.
Until recently, the Recreation Center owned the majority of playing fields in Southwick, offering programs such as soccer, baseball, softball, tee ball, basketball and floor hockey with volunteer coaches.
According to its website, the Recreation Center is “a non-profit organization made up of volunteers that offers the youth of our community a variety of sports.”
The Center staff is comprised mainly of volunteers and run by a board of directors. The Recreation Center also offers a school-age program both before and after school, for a fee. The Center charges fees for participation in its sports programs. It maintains its fields primarily through volunteers.
The Southwick Park and Recreation Commission maintains Prifti Park, located behind the public safety complex, which includes a playscape, basketball court, and volleyball courts. Until Whalley Park was turned over to the Commission earlier this fall, it did not maintain any other fields in town. It also maintains the Town Beach.
Commissioner Daniel Call said it can be confusing because many town youth sports programs are run by a Parks and Recreation department.
“Not many places have a private entity running its sports leagues,” said Call. “It can be confusing for people who are not used to both.”
That will all change once the fields at Whalley Park are grown-in, including baseball, softball and soccer fields.
“We’re going to be offering more – it should work out really nicely,” Call said. “Now we not only have the Rec Center, but there will be a public space with Whalley Park.”
Given to the town by John and Kathy Whalley, the 70-acre park was donated for use by the town, the public, and the Recreation Center.
Call said the fields would be open to the public for free, with fees charged for leagues, especially out-of-town teams.
“There will be an agreement between the Rec Center and Park and Recreation Commission, but I do not believe there will be any fees,” said Call.
The Southwick-Tolland-Granville Regional School Department maintains its own fields for school use, including baseball, softball and soccer fields. On weekends, outside teams often play on the fields when they are not being used by the schools.

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