Oxford Park Grant Will Boost Baseball

by Charlie Richards, Staff Writer; Oxford Ledger : Published Feb. 21, 2008

Actions expected to be taken by the Oxford Board of Commissioners Thursday night were designed to pave the way for a grant to help provide athletic facilities at Oxford Park and boost the city Recreation Department’s baseball development program.

During the past week, details have been worked out so the city can accept a $241,000 grant from the Baseball Tomorrow Fund (BTF) to help provide field lights and other amenities at the athletic complex being developed on Horner Siding Road.

Lighting equipment was one of the extras, along with inflation, that had pushed the total cost of the facility from the original $1.8 million estimate to about $2.7 million. The original amount had been supplied by land donations from the Oxford Park development and a state parks and recreation grant.

In addition to accepting the BTF grant, action by the Board of Commissioners Thursday night was to clear the way for provision of the lighting at a significant discount through a partnership between BRF and Musco Lighting, Inc.

BTF, an arm of Major League Baseball, is designed to promote the growth of baseball and softball around the world through funding programs, field improvements and equipment purchases to encourage youth participation.

Musco is described as a leader in the sports lighting industry, It provides the official lighting system for Little League Baseball and was selected to light the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex, a 200-acre complex for 30 sports.

The BTF funding also will be used to purchase support items such as bleachers, benches, portable mounds and pitching machines. Recreation Director Mary Caudle said it will make possible participation by more youth.

Mayor Al Woodlief called the BTF grant, much larger than its usual $50,000, “a home run for the small city of Oxford.”

Cathy Bradley, executive director and spokesman for the baseball organization, thanked the city and its recreation department for its commitment to youth baseball and softball. The department will develop programs to encourage participation.

Caudle said the addition of four lighted fields added to existing city fields and those at the county-operated Granville Athletic Park, will help expand its program and develop skills of those previously disadvantaged because of the lack of facilities.

She said she was particularly excited about the opportunity to develop fast-pitch softball and “open a door for local girls to have the opportunity to achieve success.”

While the grant guarantees a lighting system, the Recreation Department still needs funds to complete all aspects of the Oxford Park complex, which include irrigation systems, playgrounds, walking trails and support facilities such as concession space.

The complex occupies about 20 acres in the area of Oxford Park that includes its private swim club and a potential school site. The residential community, developed by the Bodes and East West Partners of Chapel Hill, is in a satellite annexation area of Oxford.

The Recreation Department has been seeking donations. In addition to the state and BTF grants and the land from John and Lucy Bode and Oxford Park, donations have been made by Bandag, the Royster Cross and Hensley law firm, Richard and Noel Moore, Al and Anita Woodlief and Coca Cola.

The Oxford recreation program is the only public one in Granville County, although volunteer associations are active in South Granville, and the county, Creedmoor and Butner have recreation facilities. Many of the participants in the city’s programs are residents of unincorporated areas and over the years the city has sought and received some support from county government.

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