On May 12, in what would have otherwise been a cold, wet spring morning, I was proud to join a large contingent of Irondequoit residents at Camp Eastman to mark the grand opening of four new athletic fields to serve our youth sports leagues for years to come.
As I have written previously in this column, it is the responsibility of town government to meet the changing demands in our community. As we have seen an influx of younger families into Irondequoit over the past decade, this has seen an increased need for adequate recreational space.
To complete this project, we had to physically move a small mountain. In the rear of Camp Eastman lied a sizable berm comprised of sediment and tunnel rock from the construction of the Monroe County Pure Waters overflow tunnel in the 1970s. After some creative engineering, we now have four fields where one small, inadequate field once sat.
It was fitting that this grand opening coincided with the annual Irondequoit Soccer Club tournament. As we cut the ribbon, four games were just commencing, and I am sure there will rarely be an evening this summer when those fields are not in use.
This project wouldn’t have been possible had it not been for state funding secured by Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle and Sen. Rich Funke. Combined, they allocated a half-million dollars in legislative grant funding for the project. Over the past few years, our state legislators have partnered with the town on so many different projects that will serve our community for years to come, and our gratitude for their support cannot be overstated.
In recognition of the state’s support, we dedicated one field as Excelsior Field, in tribute to our state’s motto, which, in Latin, translates to “Ever Upward.” Given there were three other fields opening, we took the opportunity to name them after Irondequoit residents who have left their mark on this community. This included: former-Supervisor Frederick Lapple, who passed away last year; Coach Ernie Lisi, regarded as the founder of Irondequoit Lacrosse; and, Jon Poulakis, a longtime volunteer with Irondequoit soccer who has mentored hundreds of volunteer coaches.
We were thrilled to be joined at the ceremony by Coaches Lisi and Coach Poulakis, as well as by members of the Lapple family. Most importantly, it was wonderful to see so many children and alumnus of our youth sports organizations present. The people of Irondequoit have earned investments like this.
Shifting gears, I’d like to recognize our Town Historian Patricia Wayne, who recently received our Staff Spotlight Award at the May Town Board workshop meeting. Pat plays an invaluable role in preserving and promoting the wonderful history of Irondequoit and we are lucky to have her at Town Hall.