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VILLAGE EYES 20-ACRE SITE FOR ATHLETIC FIELDS

The Village of Hamburg is in the market for additional soccer fields and softball diamonds and is eyeing 20 acres of vacant land next to Glen Meadows Park in the Forest Glen neighborhood.

Village officials have proposed the project to the Hamburg Central School District, which owns the land, in the hope of working out a mutually agreeable arrangement that would benefit both school teams and village recreation programs.

"We're chomping at the bit to pick up more space," Recreation Director Thomas Moses said Monday.

The proposal to convert the land into athletic fields is in the preliminary stages, and a committee of village and school district officials has not yet met on the idea. The School Board last week named a committee to review the project after Village Administrator David Fountaine approached school officials about the idea.

The cost of converting the land for recreation use is unknown, as is the feasibility of the project. Trees and underbrush cover the site, which looks like Glen Meadows before it was developed. Drainage remediation also may be necessary, village officials said.

Officials seem to be leaning toward pursuing a rental or lease arrangement and not buying the property from the school district, which purchased the land 20 years ago in case it needed to build another elementary school.

Interim School Superintendent Edwin Osborne said the school district would be interested in sharing the land but retaining ownership of it if more land were needed for another elementary school.

Osborne acknowledged the need for bigger athletic fields in the village and school district. He noted that the fields along Legion Drive and North Street are full and overused.

Mayor John S. Thomas said the village and school district may be able to consider combining labor and equipment expenses.

Fountaine said he doubted the village could buy the land but would be interested in considering a joint use or long-term lease of the land. "The village is looking at ways to expand that facility (Glen Meadows)," he said.

Currently, the four soccer fields at Hamburg High School on Legion Drive and two fields at the Middle School are overused by school teams and the Young American Soccer League, which also uses Frontier School District facilities. A soccer field also is located behind the Hamburg School Administration Building in Armor and still is in "fairly good" condition, Osborne said.

The constant use of the soccer fields from spring through fall fails to give them a respite, officials say.

Moses said the village has a shortage of baseball fields and suggested that in addition to soccer fields, the property could be developed for softball diamonds and possibly baseball diamonds.

"The problem we have right now is we have more children that want to participate in those sports than we can accommodate," Fountaine said.

The idea of converting that land to athletic fields is not new; it failed to materialize a few years ago. Now officials hope Glen Meadows Park can be expanded. Glen Meadows, sprawling over 16 developed acres, contains a playground area, pavilion, softball diamonds, tennis, basketball, volleyball and badminton courts.

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