ELIZABETHTOWN - Community members in the Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School district are actively seeking a new place to hold sporting events.
School officials formed a committee this past fall comprised of representatives from the school, local government, and town residents to find a suitable site, or sites, for new soccer and baseball fields.
"It's an energetic group," said school Superintendent Gail Else, a member of the committee.
Else said that the search for a new athletic field site has been going on informally ever since the completion of the school's capital project in 2005.
Currently, the school maintains an agreement with NYCO Minerals for use of a property in Lewis, which houses two soccer fields and a parking area. The contract, which does not allow the school to make improvements on the land, expires in 2012.
"It's an absolutely gorgeous place to have games," said Else, noting how parents could walk back and forth between the fields when simultaneous games are played.
Still, with time running out on the contract and the fields' distance from the school creating challenges for transportation, the committee is actively seeking a site that falls in closer proximity to the school.
"We have a long list of pieces and parts that we've looked at," said Else, explaining how the committee sent letters to numerous property owners requesting to discuss possible arrangements.
One property that stands out as a possible site is a town-owned field adjacent to Noble Terrace in Elizabethtown. The property has been a recreational site for many years, hosting soccer games during the summer and ice skating during the winter. The field is less than a half mile from the school's campus.
The Elizabethtown Town Board held a special meeting Jan. 8 to discuss possible school-use of certain town-owned properties, including the one on Noble Terrace. All of the board members expressed concern that, with the only access to the site being a narrow road that cuts through a dense residential area, it would be unsuitable to handle the amount of traffic often drawn by school sporting events.
Else acknowledged the issue, saying, "Access there is a problem we would have to solve."
The committee faces similar challenges with many of the properties they are considering. Proposed sites must be able to meet field size requirements and other regulations handed down from the state education department.
"It does get a little tricky when you get into the details," said Else, "but I don't think anything is insurmountable."
Else said the committee is exploring a shared municipal grant, which may help fund a project for facilities shared by both the school and the town.
"I'm very optimistic that we will be able to come up with a solution that will be great for the kids as well as a recreational resource for the community," Else said.