Little League site won’t fly

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card The restriction is in the deed passed from FEMA to the water district, Newhall district general manager Steve Cole said. The century-old Castaic Union School used to sit on the 18 acres, but under FEMA orders the school relocated. FEMA bought the land and turned it over to the water district, which operates three drinking water wells there. Little League fields there are out of the question at this point. “The deed restrictions don’t allow the district to accommodate that kind of activity,” Cole said, but noted that could change if his board of directors decided to work with FEMA. “Personally, as a manager, I think it would make sense to get beneficial use of the property,” Cole said. “It’s not a priority for the district, but I don’t like shutting the door all together. It seems like the land could be of valuable use for public benefit.” Members of the league’s board want to pursue the dream for the 7- to 14-year-old boys and girls they serve in the western Santa Clarita Valley. CASTAIC – The homeless Castaic Little League – 200 kids strong – is eyeing an abandoned lot as its field of dreams, but the federal government says no, fearing a nightmare. League officials envision baseball diamonds with real pitching mounds and grassy infields where Castaic’s first school once stood. They see bullpens and areas for batting practice, a place where coaches can store their equipment, where moms and dads can work the snack bar. “We want state-of-the-art fields, something our kids can be proud of, something that will set the tone for youth sports in Castaic,” said John Konecnik, the league’s vice president. “I have maps that show 13,000, 15,000 housing units are proposed. This is something that we can do now for the future.” But the Federal Emergency Management Agency sees Castaic Dam uphill and has prohibited the current landowner – the Newhall County Water District – from allowing structures on the property or public access. The fear is that the dam, built to withstand an 8.0-magnitude earthquake, could rupture some day and release a wall of water to wipe out anything in its path. This expanse of land along Ridge Route Road looks like the abandoned property it is; trees grow haphazardly, lush weeds fill the giant cracks of the old asphalt parking lot. Barbed-wire fencing follows the perimeter where the only bow to history is the brick pillars banking a decorative iron gate that once opened onto the campus. Ironically, the property is surrounded by development including some small retailers, fast-food restaurants, a post office and a large apartment complex. Nearby is the sprawling Castaic Sports Complex, built since the school closed. That’s where Little League plays now, but renting the facility is costly and the fields are built for softball, with dirt infields instead of grass and no pitching mounds. The league officials have come up with a three-phased plan for the old school site – working with an architect to design the fields, creating a facility perhaps replicating in miniature some of the nation’s best known baseball stadiums and finally building softball fields. While other leagues have neglected softball and been ordered to ensure facilities for a sport that involves predominantly girls, Konecnik said the demand is for baseball fields. “We have a need right now, and with limited resources we can’t do it all now,” he said. The real question is if it can be done at all on this grassy field near the center of town, land where playgrounds heard the shrieks of thousands of schoolchildren over 100 years. Patricia Farrell Aidem, (661) 257-5251 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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