Sports fans climbing into the stands at Patriots Park will get a little relief from the summer heat next year.
Four sets of bleacher covers and 10 Bradford pear trees were recently added to the park's facilities as the first purchase by the Recreation Department Advisory Board using funds raised from an activity fee that was implemented in fall 2003 to replace some fund-raisers, said Charlie Beale, the Recreation Department manager and the board's chairman.
The advisory board raises funds to help supplement the Recreation Department budget for whatever is needed, whether it be capital improvements, special projects or equipment, said Mike Brodhecker, the facilities' supervisor.
In response to parent suggestions and complaints, the recreation board convinced the Board of Commissioners in summer 2003 to pass a $5 activity fee to be tacked into an athlete registration fee.
"The parents are a lot happier doing that than having to go out and sell candy or cookies or any type of fund-raiser we have done in the past," Beale said.
He added that an average of 4,500 children participated in recreation department programs a year ago. If all parents agreed to pay the fee, the board could earn $22,500 without having children compete by holding school fund-raisers at the same time.
The first purchase with the activity fee was the bleacher covers that were installed over sets of bleachers at the three small baseball fields and the girls fastpitch softball field at Patriots Park, Beale said.
"It gets right warm out there," Beale said. "In July, it gets hot."
The Bradford pear trees, planted between the soccer fields and playgrounds, also were added to provide future shade. Beale said the smaller trees had to be chosen because taller ones would have interfered with field lighting.
The board, which also raises money with an annual Fourth of July Celebration and Veterans Day Memorial Barbecue, has provided money for several projects through the years, including fencing and sodding fields, purchasing shelters and building playgrounds, Beale said.
Brodhecker said the board plans to continue using the money collected through the activity fee to improve recreation facilities. Future projects include bleacher covers at Riverside Park, more bleachers at Patriots Park and widening sidewalks at Patriots.
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