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Rocky Hill Expects Funding For Athletic Field For Disabled Children

ROCKY HILL — Funding to construct an $800,000 baseball field at Elm Ridge Park for children with disabilities is expected to be approved Friday by the State Bond Commission, state legislators said Tuesday.

The Miracle League complex will feature a flat, handicap-accessible playing surface. It enables youngsters, including those who are vision-impaired or wheelchair-bound, to play baseball, and its cushioned, rubberized surface is designed for multi-sport use. An adjacent playground would be accessible to all children.

A similar field operated by Miracle League of Connecticut Inc. was built in West Hartford and opened for use two years ago.

"We'll have a state-of-the-art facility,'' said state Rep. Antonio "Tony" Guerrera, D-Rocky Hill, who, with state Sen. Paul A. Doyle, D-Wethersfield, announced the funding. "We fought hard for this and I'm happy to see the governor's and the bond commission's support for it."

In addition to the Miracle League funding, Guerrera and Doyle said that the town will be receiving a $444,000 grant under the Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) to replace the 10-year-old field turf at Rocky Hill High School's McVicar Field. The field is used for football, soccer and lacrosse games.

The town had earmarked $350,000 in its current capital budget for turf replacement. That money can now be used to replace the high school track. It is anticipated the two projects would be done simultaneously over four to six weeks next summer, Parks and Recreation Director Lisa M. Zerio said. The STEAP application was filed this past spring.

Planning for the Miracle League complex remains in the conceptual stage and its location within the park has yet to be determined.

"We're very excited about this,'' Zerio said, noting that the town master plan calls for establishing an entire Little League complex at Elm Ridge Park.

Guerrera said the application followed conversations he had town council member Bill MacDonald, board of education member Brian Dillon and others. One special needs parent involved in preliminary discussions, Sebastian "Sebby" Sorrentino, called the announcement of the funding "phenomenal," a culmination of a rapid period of growth in local recreational programming for disabled youth.

Beginning with the launch last summer of Little League Challenger baseball, the programming has grown to include the popular the Sea Cubs buddy swimming program and expands to the Side Kicks soccer program in the fall. All three programs are at capacity. "It's really blossomed nicely this year,'' he said.

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